Taking the Future for Granted
-- Pastor Bob Norris (Interim Pastor)
One of the tasks associated with the church assessment process is reviewing the history of the church, and I have enjoyed thumbing through the various photo albums and documents from the church library. The notebook that was assembled to celebrate the church’s 135th anniversary back in 2009 was particularly helpful and encouraging. The Lord has done some significant things over the years here at the corner of Camburn and Bradford!
The events of the past 15 months surrounding the covid-19 pandemic have reminded us that life can change dramatically from one day to the next. “Shelter in place”, “self-quarantine” and “social distancing” have all become commonplace expressions to describe our “new normal”. It also illustrates the warning that James records for us in his short epistle -
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 (NIV)
So much in our world has changed since the early days of the pandemic. Many of the activities we have enjoyed in the past may never come back, including a few of those who used to call FCC Stanton home. Although the Gospel does not change, the programs and methods of sharing the Gospel and making disciples must change with the needs and cultures of those we are trying to reach. When we become accustomed to our preferred way of doing things, we often become less open to change. In fact, we tend to not even perceive the necessity to make a change since our needs are being met.
I was challenged last week by a question posed by Andy Stanley, Sr. Pastor of North Point Community Church in suburban Atlanta. In a recent webinar that I participated in, he asked this probing question – what is the faith of the next generation worth? And of course, the answer is –it’s worth everything.
I recently asked our Transition Team to listen to a podcast featuring a pastor, Lee Kricher who planted a church in Pittsburgh, PA back in the late 1970’s. He served that church for 13 years and then left to pursue another ministry opportunity in the business world. 13 years later he was contacted by the leadership at that church he founded and was asked to come back and help them. By 2003, that church’s decline was so severe that the survival of the church was in serious doubt. One of the prevalent mindsets pertaining to ministry approach that he found among the people who were still attending was this – if it is good enough for us, then it should be good enough for our kids & grandkids. He challenged the church with a similar question to the one Andy Stanley asked – what will it take to reach our children? To God’s glory, that church took a hard look at itself and made the necessary changes to begin reaching the next generation. Their story has been captured in the book – For A New Generation – A Practical Guide for Revitalizing Your Church by Lee Kricher.
Our congregation cannot afford to take the future for granted. We must be willing to take a fresh look at how we do ministry in this “new normal” and focus on what it will take to reach the next generation for Christ. Please join with me and our Transition Team in prayer as we attempt to answer that question. Our future as a congregation depends on it.