I would like to start this month’s newsletter off by saying “thank you.” On Sunday, the 18th, we concluded our sermon series that took our mission and vision deeper. I am proud to be a part of our church. In this month-long sermon series, we explored deep issues together – how a church can be for its community, hunger, mental illness, division and injustice, and how we’ve pursued our vision this past year. In addition, we experimented with different preaching formats, even changing the worship service times for one week.
I am grateful to be on this journey with you.
The other day I saw some new data from the Barna group. Author and researcher, David Kinnaman, purports that as of 2014, 43% of Americans are “churchless” – those who’ve never been a part of a church or were but no longer are. Eve with the remaining 57%, only 49% attend church at least once a month. Additionally, 2 in 3 unchurch Americans say they are spiritual people. Slightly more than half even say their faith is very important to their lives. 99% of unchurched Americans are aware of Christianity and 69% have a favorable view of it. Yet nearly half of these same people see value in personally attending church.
As I said on Sunday morning, the landscape behind us does not look like the landscape before us.
Today I had coffee with another local pastor and I was encouraged as he shared many of the same questions and concerns for ministry that I have. He described some of the same ongoing trends within his church that we face within ours. In all, the conversation showed me once again, that we are asking the right questions as a church. We are seeking the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit in our time.
I would like to encourage you to continue thinking about our mission and vision. Consider how God leading you to risk and experiment this year with your faith. Consider how God may be calling us to do this as a congregation. Have ongoing conversations with family members or friends, too. I am convinced that God’s way forward for our church involves every one of us. Throughout the centuries, God has used ordinary people like you and me to advance his kingdom. The Holy Spirit has continually guided God’s people through the unknown, experimenting their way into a new reality.
What an adventure! Again, I’m so thankful to go on this adventure with you.
Austin D. Hill