This past weekend I had the opportunity to sit in on several meetings comprised of a variety of Richwoods folks – leaders, volunteers, elders, and staff. The meetings were conducted by The Unstuck Group, a church consulting organization contracted by the eldership for the next five months to help us gain perspective on our health, structure, and strategy as we continue to pursue our redemptive potential as a large church.
We started each meeting with a review of our history and the turning points along the way, identifying key moments and trends where God seemed to propel us forward as well as those times where we lost our footing and made mistakes.
At the end of each meeting four categories were put in front of us to help us frame our thinking about the health of Richwoods. What struck me the most was the variety of opinions on what is “right, wrong, confused, and missing.”
Doing church can be a squirrelly venture. Everyone has an opinion of best practice, right focus, and even a collection of things that should be avoided.
One of the harder relationships to navigate within each local church is the one between leadership and those who attend. Some churches fall into a trap of trying to manage everyone’s expectations and emotions through programs, teaching, and events — whatever it takes to keep everyone relatively happy so they don’t leave.
It’s an impossible task, and it often leads to church stagnation and decline.
When Jesus began to speak about the expectations of those who followed him, he challenged mindsets, best practices, behaviors, and programs. As a result many of those who followed him became frustrated and left. Even Jesus couldn’t keep everyone happy. Actually, I don’t think it ever entered his mind to try.
He was clearly focused on doing the things the Father sent him to do as he fulfilled his calling. Jesus was dead set on realizing his redemptive potential, not to please the crowds.
I’m not bringing up a Jesus story here to encourage blind trust in the leadership of the church as we move forward as if we have some special insight from the Father. What I am saying is we acknowledge we have experienced a couple of years of being out of sync as a church and it has created a level of frustration. But we will never be rid of all frustration. Our goal is to get in sync with where God is calling us, and put all of our effort into getting there.
The elders have prayerfully engaged in this process as we evaluate and lean on God for wisdom and discernment concerning what’s next for Richwoods. There are great days ahead of us as a church. There are so many people in the tri-county area who have yet to discover life in Jesus, and God is preparing us to be a church that helps them find and follow Christ.
As this process continues, here are a few things I’d like to encourage you with:
- It’s normal for a church of our size and history to be in this place, at this time.
- The Unstuck Group will not tell us what to do but will help us discern next steps to increase our impact for the Kingdom of God with tweaks, additions, and even elimination.
- We will keep you up-to-date within these FYIs. What we will learn is for all of us as we reach for our redemptive potential.
- Finally, a phrase The Unstuck Group left with us after this weekend was, “This is a case of good to great.”
We’re not broken, just stuck. Please be praying with us.
On average Richwoods needs to receive $39.1K in gifts to meet its 2016 operating expenses, 10% of which goes immediately to Missions and helping people in our community who are experiencing financial troubles.
Our budgets are set on a calendar year, submitted by staff and approved by the Elders of Richwoods. Our ability to meet the needs of the people, provide programs, offer ministry opportunities, and so on, are all contingent on the faithful and generous giving of the people who call Richwoods their church home. As a church we do not take annual pledges to set a budget but we work off of our historical giving and attendance patterns to project a conservative budget.
If you have questions about the information shared in this fyi, you can contact our Executive Pastor, Joel Dryden by email. You can also leave a comment below.