Sunday, August 31, 2014

Planning for Next Year (Charge Conference)

    It is that time again.  By the end of next month we will need to complete our preparations for our annual Charge Conference.  That means that in the days ahead we will be making budgets, filling out forms, reviewing past performance, and searching for leaders and volunteers for next year.  Some of these things have already begun and you will hear of others soon. 

I hope that you will be in prayer for our church during this process.

    Our leadership has a significant impact on the direction of our church as well as our motivation to get things done.  Good leaders inspire us and move us forward.  But we need followers too.  Without volunteers, our leaders won’t get much done.  The chairperson of a committee, team or working group can’t do much by themselves. 

It takes all of us working together.

    As the Nominating Committee meets in the days and weeks ahead, I hope that each of you will consider, prayerfully, how God might be calling you to be a part of our ministry here at Trinity Church.  If you aren’t sure how you “fit” or how you can help, please take the time to ask me.  There is much to be done and there is a place for every one of us.

    There are some things that we will be doing differently this year.  I am hoping that they make things easier but also allow us to put a new emphasis on important tasks and allow some of our volunteers to do things that they are passionate about.  You can probably expect to hear an announcement (or three) about these changes in the weeks ahead.

Until then, consider what God might be asking you to do.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ask the Pastor

    A while back I asked our youth a question.  I passed out index cards and asked them to ask me anything.  I wanted them to ask me questions that were bothering them, questions about church, about faith, Christianity, or anything else.  For the past several weeks, and likely for the next month or two, I have been answering those questions and then posting the answers on my blog online.

    Many of the questions are good (and sometimes difficult) and it occurs to me that you may have asked some of the same questions.  For that reason, I invite you to stop by my online home at my Crossfusion blog and read them for yourself.  But I also invite you to ask your own questions - church folk as well as online readers.  Feel free to ask me anything about church, faith, Christianity, Methodism, political issues, or anything else that bothers you or you are concerned or confused about.  Deep and detailed answers might just become a sermon (or even a series) and shorter answers might be answered online. 

    In any case, ask away and I’ll do my best to find your answers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rockets and Jesus

    As I write this I am in Pueblo, Colorado for a week long event known as NARAM, the National Association of Rocketry Annual Meet.  Each year, several hundred members of our organization meet for the national model rocket contests and for a week of sport flying (just for fun).  I generally don't compete but just fly for fun.  In the evenings there are research presentations, craftsmanship model contests, movies, a charity auction, and a "state of the union" message from our president. 

    As I listened to the president's message it struck me that the experience of this group of rocket enthusiasts is similar in many ways to our experience as a church.  For many years the membership of this organization, as well as nearly all craftsmanship hobbies, has been in serious decline.  Today's youth are pulled in a thousand directions with video games, school clubs, and many other things and hobbies that require a skill and have a longer learning curve have suffered.  The response of the NAR (National Association of Rocketry) has been to reach out to the community, schools and groups like the scouts and 4-H (evangelism, in a way).  We offer programs of mentoring and teaching so that young people can experience our hobby and learn about rocketry but also interest them in the math and science that explains how it all works.

    Nearly ten years ago, the NAR partnered with a group of major aircraft and aviation industry corporations to conduct an annual event called TARC, the Team America Rocketry Challenge. Teams from junior high and high schools, boy scouts, girl scouts and other youth organizations from all over the country compete against one another for $50,000 in college scholarships and a trip to the Paris airshow where our champions will compete against the champions from France, England and Japan.

    But as great as the program has been, for many years, our membership wondered whether it was all worth the effort.  Our membership continued to decline despite all of the time and effort that we were contributing.  We heard the same sorts of things we hear in church, "Kids today just don't have time." or "There just isn't as much interest in these sorts of things." But we persisted because it was the right thing to do.  We were interesting a new generation in science and mathematics and we began to see that many of the students who competed on TARC teams were going on to major in science in college.  This year, our president reported that our organization reached the highest membership we have had in decades.  It didn't happen overnight and in reality, we still have a lot of work to do to stay healthy, but we do seem to be on the right track. 
    As I listened to the president's speech I wondered how much our church might be just like this association of hobbyists.  How often to we hear things like, "We tried that already and it isn't working." or "We've been doing that for years and it isn't doing any good." or even "We did that and we haven't gotten any new members."?  What that speech reminded me was that often times there is no magic bullet.  Our programs, our outreach, our evangelism, are all different than they were forty years ago.  We won't see instant results and flocks of new members overnight.  But, if we do the right things, and we are persistent over the long haul, I am confident that we will see results.

    We are seeing some results, even if the church isn't filling up overnight.  We must continue to do the right thing.  We must remember out mission.    Our mission is to reach out, to tell the world about Jesus, and to be persistent even when nothing seems to be working.

 "And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good." (2 Thessalonians 3:13)