I have never served in a church with such a dedicated and hard-working council or administrative assistant. I can ask for things to be done, and surprise! They get done! As we head into this month of thanksgiving, I just want to say how grateful I am for these folks. And I want to update you on what council has been up to since my appointment began.
Council is normally supposed to meet quarterly, but they have been meeting monthly ever since Klamath Falls UMC transitioned to a half-time pastor. Since I have been here, we have been focused on what we need to do to address our declining numbers (attendance and finances). The District Superintendent asked us to set one goal in each of five areas. We are focusing on the areas of worship and maintenance of our church building and grounds. Don Dumbeck has graciously, and quickly, compiled a list of things that need to be done to maintain the building. The worship question was phrased to us as one thing you will do differently in worship. Our answer was to move towards what in church speak is known as a blended worship service.
Whole wars have been fought in churches over the style of worship a church should have. In every church I have served, people have expressed the desire to have more families with children and youth in the church, but when you ask what are they willing to change about worship, it devolves into a “don’t change the ____________” (whatever THEIR favorite thing is about worship). There’s a great meme that was on the social web for a while with a picture of a church, factory, and school at the turn of the century. Rigid lines, everything lined up, with the captions, “This is what church looked like a 100 years ago. This is what work looked like a 100 years ago. This is what school looked like 100 years ago.” Then there was a picture of cooperative workstations at both work and school, and the captions “this is what work and school look like now.” Can you guess what is coming… “why does church still look like this?”
I get that change is hard. But if we want younger folks to join us in worship, we must be willing to compromise. Some of those compromises, be it music or what we do with the sermon time, might end up being just a little uncomfortable for you. They might not even be your cup of tea, but we are seeking to grow our church. These changes in and of themselves will not draw in new people, but our work with the Rural Church Cohort may. And if it does, we must have worship that welcomes people across the spectrum. If you really struggle with this, please make an appointment to come talk to me. I don’t bite, I promise. And I don’t hold grudges against people who see it differently than I do.
And there is one gentle reminder I would like to make – the only person on the clock on Sunday morning is me. Jeannie is here as a congregation member and so are the council members. This is their Sabbath and worship time. Please do not talk shop with them!
And if you really want to have a voice in what we are doing, then please join us at the next council meeting, January 17, 5-7 pm, here at church. We’ll share some soup and some holy conversation!