“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2
Voting on the fanning the flame project was delayed for a few more weeks in order to insure that the requirements of our church constitution for a special meeting had been met, and proper notification received by all. However, discussion at the meeting revealed a couple of things.
The good news — enough people volunteered to serve on the planning committee, if the program is approved. As we are a small congregation, this was a legitimate concern.
The bad news — there is not yet complete agreement. Some are concerned about the cost; others don’t really understand what will be achieved. There is probably even some fear — what will happen, and how will we have to change? Will I be able to do what is asked of me? Do I even want to do it?
My prayer for St. Paul’s is for unity in whatever decision we make. Total unity is, of course, not possible this side of heaven, but if we’re sharply divided, if we’re angry with one another, if we’re intent only on getting our way, no plan will succeed. This is a time for listening — to one another and to God.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Pray with me friends and readers, as we attempt to discern the will of God in this matter.
A few days ago our congregation had a meeting with Mr. Joe Weatherly, a representative from Fanning the Flame, a ministry of church revival. A hard question was asked: do we want to be light and salt to the world, or do we simply want our church to continue? To survive and thrive, we must focus on Christ and serving others, not on ourselves. I realize this is a challenge. It is a challenge for me.
Hard work will be involved in completing the revitalization process. There will be workshops and retreats; people will have to take on jobs and be committed and accountable. However, in the end, we will understand our gifts and have a number of strategic plans for using them.
I sensed people were interested and I hope inspired (I was). I was heartened by a good turn out of our members and by the questions they asked. Are we ready to make this big commitment of time and money? This week or next we’ll have further discussion and voting. Please keep St. Paul’s in your prayers.
I’m going to veer off topic in this post to blog about something our church is considering. St. Paul’s is 191 years old and our congregation is small and growing older. The church is not located in a “growth” area of our county. Our pastor and leaders are concerned about the future: Does God have a plan for us? Will we be able to survive and thrive? Who will carry the gospel forward in Leitersburg, Md.?
The book, From Embers to a Flame, by Harry Reeder outlines a program for church revitalization. It is about church health, not church growth and is very biblically based. Topics include: The Biblical Paradigm for Revitalization, The Gospel of God’s Grace, The Role of Prayer, Mission and Vision, Great Commission Discipleship. So far our congregation has held cottage meetings, instituted a Wednesday evening prayer service, and started a Sunday School unit on our vision statement to be followed by a study of 1 Timothy (which Reeder calls a handbook of church revitalization).
Later this month a representative from the Fanning the Flame ministry will be visiting with us to tell us more about what their program offers. We will need to make a wise decision as it will require an investment of not just money, but personal commitment if we proceed. I hope our readers will pray with us for our congregation, for discernment and for our spiritual growth of our members. I also hope other authors from St. Paul’s will give their perspective on how things are going as we forge ahead!