What’s the Big Idea?
Back in mid-December, I had the pleasure of attending one of the “community conversations” designed to allow us to share thoughts and ideas about our congregation and its future. I went with some trepidation: I didn’t know how it would go, and I wasn’t sure anyone would show up.
Lo and behold, at the appointed time, over forty people had gathered in the Sanctuary. And what an exciting discussion!
Lots of participants had lots of ideas about what outreach activities were appropriate for the congregation to be involved in. Some admitted that particular social justice efforts were the primary reason they had joined the church in the first place; others expressed the belief that we do too much for others, that we ought to focus more on taking care of our own members and friends.
For myself, I think both taking care of our own and reaching out into the community are vitally important. Indeed, these are two of the key reasons for a congregation to exist.
Being welcoming to visitors as well as to current members was another recurring theme. Some wanted better hearing assistance systems so people can hear what’s said during programs and presentations. Upgrades to our audio-visual capabilities were important to many as well, it being well-nigh impossible to see the projection screen from the middle or back rows of our Sanctuary.
Further, in order to include shut-ins and to welcome more people into experiencing our services, the suggestion was made that, instead of posting audio recordings of sermons after the fact, we livestream our entire services over the internet.
It became clear that space issues still haunt us. Many obviously long for the days when we had only one service each Sunday, a possible solution for which would be to build a larger Sanctuary near the existing one and to use the one we have as a fellowship hall / education wing with a full-sized kitchen. When someone estimated the cost to be a million dollars or more, many balked, wondering if a new building would be worth the expense.
Late in the process, the chair of the Sunday Morning Experience Team mentioned how difficult it is to find ministers willing to guest preach after they learn we have two services each Sunday. This seemed to shock some folks, perhaps because they’ve never thought about what a strain this puts on resources.
Success is wonderful, but it has its cost. Doing two services every Sunday has its downside for a number of people, not least of all your minister and staff. But when our Sanctuary is too small to welcome all who show up, something’s gotta give. The cost of doing two services is not as great as that of building a new building, and I would say not as great as turning people away.
What shall we do about it together?
I welcome your ideas, big or small.
See you in church,