Who's Joining Our Community: Old First E-pistle 04.26.12

Who's Joining Our Community: Old First E-pistle 04.26.12

We now have four Andrews (H., C., and two McLs).
Three Marks (W., S., M.).
And just recently we’ve gone to three Jonathans (A., V. and B.).
We’ve gotten used to two Beths (W. and D.), but there’s also two Lizs (O. and McL.) and an Elizabeth (G.).

You’ll notice I have to refer to Bruce Co. and Bruce Cl.
And currently we have two Adams (S. and G.) and two Mikes (B. and W.) and me (Michael).
Two Tims (K. and H.). Both our Vals (K. and S.) are arrivals in the last few years.
And Chris M. makes us need to further identify Kris F (at least when we are speaking).

For some time we’ve had two Annemaries (K. and T.) and four Bobs (S., R., C. and P.). And two Carl Kls. Two Dans (R. and B.) and a Daniel (W.). Two Keiths (H. and F.), two Megs (O. and B.), two Miguel As, and two Warrens (L. and B.).

So far, we have only one Alla, Angel, Bastian, Blossom, Bula, Kameron, Elwood, Freja, Griffin, Gulya, Haeman, Iyabo, Ivelisse, Jackson, Jillian, Melisha, Micah, Oleg, Stirling, Sungyhe, Wanda, Yajeh and Yiwola!

Can you identify all the individuals named above? One of you suggested recently, “With all the new people showing up in church, we need more of a commitment to getting to know one another.” Maybe we should create a spiritual discipline for interacting more and deepening relationships? ?To make church a place where you get to know people deeply– not superficially, but where it matters most. That sounds like religion! Remember: a community can never be stronger than the relationships that comprise it.

Keeping “name twins” straight is a symptom really, a secondary aspect of our growing church community. But how many members we have, I think, can too easily become about our feeling good about ourselves. What if we dared to ask ourselves what difference touching more lives really makes?

We might tease that inquiry into more detail by asking:
1) How do we affect the individuals involved in our community? and
2) what effect does our our faith community have in the larger world?

The Revitalization Task Force is preparing a report on our Covenant Ministry. We’re anticipating being able to present some analysis:

~ what worked to help grow our congregation: how and why?;
~ what didn’t work: why not; do our failures suggest other strategies or goals?
~ overall, what did we learn from our revitalization effort?
~ what’s our experience of the last three years suggest we should undertake next?

Our initial reviews seem to provide confirmation. One of you commented recently, “When I come to church, I don’t know half the people there.” If you aren’t at church all the time, or if you haven’t made a significant effort getting to know new people, that could be true. The initial numbers witness to strong growth in the size of our “participating community” during the last 33 months.

Likewise, we believe three of the four groups for whom we targeted to evolve our traditions to serve better– 1) families with children, 2) L,G,B,T folk and 3) young adults ? have shown significant growth. We’re not sure how to gauge how we’ve done with “people disappointed by church, either by their experience or their expectations of the church.” If you have any ideas how we can measure this, please let us know.

We’re also curious to understand in better why our worship attendance is lagging behind, or at least not keeping up proportionally with the growth of the overall community.

I hope you will keep the RFT’s evaluation effort in your prayers. And look forward to the final report which we hope to provide by the end of May. Church isn’t an effort that’s easy to evaluate. And for all kinds of reasons, we don’t even try as often as we could. But thorough and consistent reflection would help our efforts improve even further, indeed incrementally and over time changing the nature of our service itself.

See you in church,

Michael

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