For the longest time I have been in deep thought about the growth and future of PCC. It’s something I constantly do. Hardly as day goes by that I’m not fully engaged in this mental activity. The last couple of years have been a real challenge for me too, and for a variety of reasons. You may remember me saying on Vision Sunday (Jan 2) those very words: “It’s a challenge for me to lead right now.” These leadership challenges have dominated my thought life.
Regarding our church’s growth I have been all over the emotional chart when thinking about it; one day telling myself that we’re big enough; another day thinking it might be easier to pastor a smaller church and maybe I should allow PCC to go down in size because the work load is about to kill me; and another day wanting to grow so that we might reach our redemptive potential. It's been an emotional yo-yo for me.
You may have noticed a bit of a slow down on my blog recently. That’s because I have been devoting a great deal of my time and thought-life to this matter. The last three or four weeks have been the most intense. Believe me, I have wrestled my way through some tough issues trying to decide what I’m going to do, and that was a process that I could not rush.
In the thirteen years I have served at PCC, staff members have come and gone, board members have come and gone, elders have come and gone, key lay leaders have come and gone, and significant donors have come and gone. Most left on good terms; the sad result of a mobile society. Other departures were painful and cut me to the core. But either way, these exits have led to some of the loneliest moments of my life. Why? Because losing great people who shared the vision is very disappointing – and sometimes downright scary. How can I carry on without this person? What’s the point of working so hard, we can’t get ahead. Why should I continue to investing myself in people; they all just end up leaving anyway!
Just so you know, I have turned the corner and will not ask myself those questions any more. After numerous late-night gut checks, I have come to complete clarity on this issue: By God’s grace, I fully intend to pursue the vision that God has entrusted to me, no matter what, no matter who comes or goes. I will not let the opinion of others affect my own commitment to God’s call on my life. Whether PCC is setting records and I’m enjoying the enthusiastic support of friends and followers, or if PCC is stumbling and bumbling down the court and I end up alone, still I will pursue the vision. It’s a private thing now, between God and me.
Regarding our church’s growth, I have decided that shrinkage is not an option for us. I have also decided that being a plateaued church is not option either. I am fully committed to seeing PCC become a growing church so that we might reach our redemptive potential and accomplish all that God has willed for us. What I mean is this: if we shrink or remain plateaued it’s not going to be because I sit back and watch it happen. I’m “ALL IN” and will do everything I can do to see PCC move forward and upward. I am mentally and spiritually healthy for this challenge too.
Of course, it takes more than pep talks, banners, and emotional stories to have a growing church. I understand that clearly. There’s a huge difference between having a vision and “getting the vision done.” To get it done means somebody has to roll up their sleeves and get into the thick of things. It means providing effective leadership; the kind that has muscle, punch, and oomph to get the job done. It requires setting goals and coming up with a strategic plan to achieve those goals. It means finding champions for these goals too. It means keeping the main thing the main thing and not allowing ourselves to get sidetracked. It means the role of the pastor must change, and the role of the staff must change. It means the expectations that the congregation has of the pastor must change too. It means that structural changes must be made. It means we have to learn new skills and new leaders must be developed. It means that “ministry alignment” is a must. We cannot allow ourselves to become a federation of sub-ministires who operate idependelty from the whole - like a group isolated ministry silos - a mistake I made in the past.
This will involve “growing pains.” Growth always involves decision-making and every time you make a decision somebody gets disappointed. There is no growth without change, and there is no change without loss, and there is no loss without pain. The church that wants to grow without experiencing pain is like the woman who says, “I would love to have a baby but I don’t want any labor pains or stretch marks.” It’s just not going to happen.
For the last eighteen months or so we have been methodically working our way through a certain list of critical areas in our church that needed help. We took a hard look at our ministries and internal systems. Everything was put on the drawing board for evaluation and some tough decisions had to be made. During this process we have not expanded or added any new ministries; and for good reason, other critical areas needed to be fixed first.
After a lot of effort we have finally hammered out a good result. We have found our stride in the adult service, and the Kids Zone has come together beautifully. New leaders have been deployed in several ministry areas of our church, other leaders have found new places to serve, and new staff has been added to the team. Attendance on Sunday mornings is better balanced between the two services; we no longer have an “A” service and a “B” service. For the most part, we are firing on all eight cylinders on Sunday mornings, which is a huge step forward for us. In short, the right people and the right systems are now in place.
On this solid foundation we are going to step into our future. We will launch new initiatives and expand the borders of PCC. Pastors can usually sense when God’s timing has arrived, and I think the time is now or is very soon. God has not placed PCC here to simply play patty-cake religion and do laps each Sunday. He has placed us here to have an impact on this community and advance His cause.
Over the last several months I have also done a great deal of research looking into the differences between small, medium and large churches and what makes each size unique. I have gathered a wealth of information that I want to share with others. I’m very excited about the future of PCC. As I stated on my Mind Dump last Sunday, “I am more encouraged than I have been in a very long time. Not because we are setting the woods on fire, but because of the people we have.”
We are going to the next level.
We are going to the next level.
I am very happy for you and the PCC Family. This IS our church and continue to pray that you have the clarity of thought and spirit to continue what God has laid out for us in our church.
Like you said, people come and go but God's presence will always be there.
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