To the Saints of God at Emmanuel,
To the Saints of God at Emmanuel,
As we welcome the gift of another new year, I offer best wishes to all for a healthy, prosperous and blessed 2017.
At this year’s annual meeting I noted that September marked the beginning of our 22st year of ministry together. We have been through a lot these years, good times and challenging times. For the most God has blessed us with a fruitful ministry and faithful laborers. We have witnessed many changes throughout the years as we have sought to be faithful to the Holy Spirit shaping our ministry together. Most noticeably and of most concern is that we continue to be challenged with a declining worship attendance and general involvement of many of our members in the life and ministry of the church. Our Sunday school is down to about 25% of what it was when I came 20 years ago, and the involvement of our adult members in the education ministry of the congregation is practically down to nothing. Worship and education are the two main ways we continue to nurture ourselves in the faith as disciples. However, the fact is we are not alone in this challenge. This is a societal trend and it is true for most churches but particularly among most traditional mainline congregations. In conversation with most of my colleagues they report that they are experiencing the same in their congregations. It is definitely a challenge we need to make a priority as we look to the future. How do we reactivate our inactive members? How do we activate more of our members to support the ministries of the congregation? And how can we reach out to more of the young families in our congregation and community inviting them to be more involved in the life of discipleship and ministry of the church? What are the needs of our people to help them continue to grow in their life of discipleship? The challenges are great, but certainly not insurmountable. God is faithful and we trust that he guides us into the future.
Now we have reached yet another milestone in our ministry together, I believe it to be the right time for a more intentional evaluation of our ministries here at Emmanuel. It is a good time to consider the lessons of where we have been, look at where we are now, and dream dreams of where we feel God is moving and shaping us as we look to the future. There’s no better time then now to review the effectiveness of our ministry goals and to reestablish those goals for our short and long-term future.
The Church Council Leadership Team along with other ministry leaders will begin that process as we gather for our annual leadership retreat later in February. Part of the process will involve an in-depth evaluation of all areas of our ministry. Another part of the process will involve gathering feedback and ministry ideas from other members of the congregation as well as seeking feedback from the community where we are called to live, work, serve, and share the gospel. For the sake of our ministry everyone has a vital role to play in this discernment process as together we seek God’s will for the future of our ministry. As plans develop the Church Council will let the congregation know how best you can be involved. But for now, I ask that everyone keep our ministry lifted up in pray. Through prayer let us seek the heart and desire of God for our ministry.
May God richly bless us as we continue to discern creative and effective ways to proclaim the gospel message through word and deed.