Good day everyone. This week I had a conversation with a pastor about a church that was experiencing a morale and anxiety problem. They are in decline and cannot see the future. They are questioning if they are relevant anymore. They are dying and don’t know if they can pay the bills to stay open next year. There are a few lessons that come to mind addressing this situation. The first one I choose today is to focus on Growing our Faith. I have experienced many times the self-doubt in myself in the past year as I am building my own ministry. I have exactly the same fears that this church is experiencing. The strongest way I have found to deal with this fear is to double down on my faith! God put me here to build my ministry and help churches with their ministry. While we see churches close around us, and combine with other churches, not every church must close. Some can be reborn, live and thrive again. Let’s focus on how we can grow our faith to combat the powers that want to tear us down and apart.
Let’s look at Jesus’s words:
“Then, calling the crowd to join His disciples, He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8: 34)
and Timothy’s advice:
“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” (2 Timothy 2: 2)
A very powerful tool to build our faith is in small groups. Take advantage of every chance you have to form your faith through small groups, classes, and personal study. Be a disciple and look to learn from those who know more of the Bible and Christian life than you do, then look for opportunities to share what you’ve gained with someone else.
Ideas for Action: If you’re not currently in a small group, call the church office and ask for assistance in finding one. Ask for some time
with someone whose faith you respect and pick their brains on their practices of faith formation. For those of you reading this that are in leadership, explore the option of forming faith-building small groups.
The second lesson I want to discuss is Welcome Change. Becoming something new is a biblical concept. We must be constantly aware and open to new ways of being church. We all faced this challenge in 2020 when our sanctuaries were closed in the pandemic and we had to move to online church to bring the body together. Now we are focused upon bringing everyone back in person to be the intimate Ekklesia or Ecclesia.
Be curious about new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. Get excited by the possibilities that change can bring. What worked in the past won’t always work in the future, for God is doing a new thing.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” (Mark 2: 22)
“And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21: 6)
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5: 17)
Ideas for Action: This is a simple one, so try it. Sit in a different pew in the sanctuary next Sunday. See what happens. You will meet someone you have not talked to in the past. How can you step out of your comfort zone and discuss brand new ways your church can come together to be a fellowship worshiping God?
In conclusion, we need to strengthen our faith to get us through earthly challenges, pray for God’s help in moving us forward, and then listening to God’s answer even if it is a change to what we were doing in the past!