Your Congregation's Future Depends on People You Haven't Met
If you belong to a typical congregation in the North America, your membership is in decline. The median attendance in almost all mainline denominations is less than 100 people attend worship each week. Your system is not likely to be bringing in large numbers of younger people and so it is aging. Even many stable congregations are aging and will suddenly find themselves losing a large number of people to health, relocation to be near children and grandchildren, downsizing to smaller quarters, etc. If only the people who currently attend the congregation where you worship define its future, you can do the math and figure out pretty quickly, “We are going to disappear one day.”
Now that may be OK with you. Not every congregation needs to live forever (every church that Paul started is no longer in business today!). But if your message and mission field are important and you believe God wants ministry there to continue then there is a basic truth: “The future of your congregation rests in the hands of people you haven’t met yet.”
Coming to grips with God’s desires for ministry in your place and the long term truth that some one else will have to lead that is important. How are you making space for new people to enter the system, gain experience in leadership and take over the reins? When new people do come, are they both welcomed with integrity and also walked through the process of belonging, connecting and being equipped and mentored to take on important roles?No congregation’s future rests solely in the hands of the current participants. Congregations who know this and live intentionally working to be sure that new people ascend to important roles in the church are in a radically different place than those who hope someone new will drop in and simply want to lead some day. Are you truly alert to, and ready for, new people. The future of your congregation rests in the hands of people that you haven’t met yet!