Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

1/10/2007

Ignoring Advice

Easter worship at King of Peace

The Episcopal News Service published an article recently on which churches are growing and why. The article said in part,
A plan to recruit and incorporate newcomers, clarity of mission and ministry, contemporary worship, involvement of children in worship, geographic location, a website and the absence of conflict are key factors in why some congregations in America are growing, according to the latest national survey of U.S. faith communities.

Blessing of the Animals at the Humane SocietyThe survey, sponsored by the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership (CCSP), found that wanting to grow is not enough. Congregations that grow must plan for growth.

"Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were much more likely to grow than congregations that had not," according to a report on the survey written by C. Kirk Hadaway, Director of Research at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
Though he probably doesn't remember it, I've eaten a couple of meals with Kirk at the Presiding Bishop's Conference on Church Planting at which I was a presenter. He's a sharp guy and really has a handle on statistics about The Episcopal Church in a helpful way. Despite that King of Peace is not following his advice.

Griffin and Celeste working on a Habitat for Humanity houseThe Mission Council (our church board) has talked about this more than once and we are clear that we don't want to do anything for the specific purpose of growing the church. We do want to be intentional about trying to be the Body of Christ in Camden County to the best of our ability.

Over time our imperfect attempts to be the Body of Christ has caused growth both numerically and spiritually within our congregation as it has for other churches in the community who are doing the same. But we do not attempt to be faithful so that we will grow. We attempt to be faithful in being the church God is calling us to be because that is what we are supposed to do.

The growth is grace. It's like grits on the breakfast plate at a good southern restaurant. It comes unordered, but if your Mama raised you right, your glad your getting grits. ;-)

Eating together at King of PeaceSo we'll take the recent study as descriptive of us, but not prescriptive for what we should now do. Instead, we continue to call on parishioners to dream as God dreams and show us new ministries for which we have the gifts that should come to be a part of our ministry of reaching out to our community in love.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

PS: for the curious, the Episcopal stuff from that ecumenical survey is online here: Findings from 2005 Survey and the full text of the ENS article is online here: Ecumenical Study Shows Why Congregations Grow.

Serviong the Thanksgiving meal for the community
Serving a community-wide Thanksgiving meal

3 Comments:

  • At 1/10/2007 8:14 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I belonged to an Episcopal Congregation that tried everything to grow. They Failed! They went from Parish to Mission. They thought to themselves, "We are too small to do any significant good works. We need more people to help us do them." They tried everything to recruit members but missions disappeared and people left instead of coming. When people simply moved away to follow jobs that left holes that weren't filled.

    I believed then and still believe today that when you build it they will come.

    To badly and liberally paraphrase the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, "People are looking for something, they don't know what. They'll say someday, 'lets go for a drive' and find themselves turning up your drive."

    If we are here (and out there) doing God's work, people will come. Some will know why and some won't. We all have a God shaped hole in our heart and nothing else quite fills in all the cracks.

    Planning is good and necessary, but I think we ought to be planning to make space and time to let God work his works in us and with us. Have faith that he knows what he's doing. To quote another movie badly (Father of the Bride) you got to learn to love the roller coasters.

     
  • At 1/10/2007 1:17 PM, Blogger anything but typical said…

    Jesus promised that if His disciples would lift Him up, He would draw all men unto Him.


    Growing the Kingdom of God isn't about how many people you have on the membership list. It's about being the hands and feet of God to a world separated from Him. You can't measure God's progress by the 3 B's (Buildings, Budgets, and Baptisms) because I don't believe He keeps score that way.

    Henry Blackaby, the author of the Experiencing God Bible study series, described it best. He said that God, at work in the world around us, invites us to join Him in what He is doing. God doesn't need us to make a plan; he just wants us to follow.

    Our attitude should be, "Here am I, Lord, Speak for your servant hears" not "Over here, Lord, see what I'm doing for you."

    Debbie

     
  • At 1/10/2007 1:57 PM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Kirk Hadaway (referenced above) wrote a reply to my email letting him know of the blog entry and graciously has allowed me to reprint it here:

    I usually talk about growth as a by-product of congregational vitality, rather than an end in itself.

    This report deals with correlates of growth, and we simply found that a plan for growth was related to growth, but not as much as actually doing things to invite and incorporate new people. More than likely, the correlation is based on the fact that congregations that care about reaching the people in their community are more likely to do something, whereas those who don't care tend to do nothing (and decline).

    Kirk

     

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