I wanted to share these important thoughts with you from Rev. Dotson as we enter a new year. Pastor Kevin
SEE ALL THE PEOPLE Piety, Not Anxiety June 06, 2018
Some of the statistics about churches are enough to make us really, really downhearted:
- Fewer than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church.*
- By 2050, the percentage of Americans who attend church will be almost half of what it was in 1990.*
- Only 6 percent of churches are growing, defined as increasing in attendance and keeping pace with the growth of its community.**
- A staggering 94 percent of churches are losing ground in the communities they serve.**
It’s certainly enough to make anyone involved in church work anxious!
But just replace this anxiety with piety, and your task will become more manageable.
In a 2010 report, the United Methodist Church calculated what we called a Vitality Index of our churches. The report’s authors believed that four “drivers” would create congregational vitality: Small Groups and Programs, Lay Leadership, Worship Services, and Pastoral Leadership.
This served as a call to action for denominational leaders. They devised a plan to implement these “drivers” of vitality. They measured, tinkered, managed, and implemented, believing this would make people fill the pews. Alas, it fell short of hopes and expectations.
The truth is, what these drivers did was serve as indicators of health. They did not create health.
I believe growing, thriving and healthy congregations are vital because they have never lost sight of the primary task of making disciples.
I believe the only way back to vitality comes through the deep and adaptive work we seem to want to avoid – a concerted and intimate re engagement of the communities we serve. We have to see and connect with the people God has called us to reach. This becomes the foundation of effective ministry.
We have the privilege of going out and engaging with our unchurched and hurting communities. We must embrace the opportunity to touch lives and form meaningful relationships in authentic, organic, and consistent ways.
The kind of intimacy required is not going to happen by sending a postcard or producing a PowerPoint. It requires so much more of us. It’s going to be messy and complicated. It will be frustrating for those of us who want a quick fix and immediate measurable results.
We can’t let the business of doing ministry become the ministry. Doing ministry requires us to engage people in our everyday life experiences.
Rev. Junius B. Dotson,General Secretary
Discipleship Ministries – The United Methodist Church
Praying for you to set aside your anxiety,
*Kelly Shattuck ** Thom Rainer