Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Important Updates

I ran into someone the other day and they asked me how the church was doing. Without giving it much thought, I answered “We are healthy”. For me, that was the best description I could give. That is not to say that we still do not face some serious challenges, and struggles. I believe, though, we are healthier than we have ever been and better equipped to deal with them. As a church, we have an overall sense that God is doing something special in our congregation to reach lost people in our community.

Not all churches share this view. In a recent survey of 1,000 church attenders, respondents were asked, “Why does the church exist?” According to 89 percent, the church’s purpose was “to take care of my family’s and my spiritual needs.” Only 11 percent said the purpose of the church is “to win the world for Jesus Christ.” I believe that most of our members understand that we are here to connect lost people with God through Jesus Christ.

We do have our share of challenges. Even those challenges have provided more evidence of how health we are as a congregation. For example, we are able to handle changes without experiencing a lot of the emotional upheaval we once did. We no longer see change as an enemy but the natural result of accomplishing our mission. Just recently we had a change in our staff with the departure of Raf Caudillo and Guy Louks taking over as our part-time student minister. I could not have asked for a more seamless transition in the ministry, with no loss of enthusiasm.

Another challenge we face today is keeping up-to-date with current law in regard to churches. We are working with StartChurch to bring us into compliance. We have already accomplished the first step of being incorporated. It will not actually affect you, as members, but it will provide us the proper framework legally. The next step is to do a complete rewrite of our constitution and by-laws. Most of the changes are needed in order for us to be in compliance with government requirements and to protect us from being targeted by the government.

Take the case of gay marriage. With the President making it a priority of his final term, the likelihood of it becoming a reality nationwide is quite possible. We need to include in our constitution the authority for us to refuse any use of the facilities to anyone if it violates our established doctrines and values. Without it, we could be sued for discrimination under federal law.

I realize that this is a BIG undertaking. Making changes in this document is a process that needs to be well thought out and carefully worded. We are still in the preliminary stages of this process. Dave Nance and I are working with StartChurch on a draft that we will be submitting to the Leadership team for review. Once we have the document completed, we will have a series of meetings with members to review, discuss, and revise as needed. The final draft will have to be approved by a vote of the entire congregation.

A parallel process is the leadership team considering a new membership policy. Not only is one needed as a companion to the new constitution and by-laws, but we need to update it to address some situations. For example, what role does one’s attendance play in being a member of this congregation? The elders have divided up the membership into shepherding groups. They will be contacting those in their group to introduce themselves and discuss any concerns.

In closing, I would ask you to begin praying for our Easter offering this year. Our goal is $20,000. Regardless of how much we receive, half will go immediately on our mortgage. The other half will be used to replenish our emergency fund and general fund. As you are well aware, the economy continues to struggle. This has impacted our finances as well. We are operating week to week, offering to offering. These funds will allow us to regain a positive cash-flow and stability.

See You Sunday,