Thursday, October 13, 2005

What Makes a Successful Church?

This SUnday is the culmination of our Stewardship campaign. Instead of a full sermon I will give some opening thoughts and then invite the congregation into table group discussions (we are having a pot-luck lunch afterwards and I figured we may as well sit at tables the whole time rather than set them up after the service).

These discussion groups will be a chance for people to talk to each other what their gifts to Riverview have accomplished over the last 50+ years.

What they don't know is that this is the beginning of a process in my mind. Assuming these table discussions go well (and maybe even if they don't) I intend to do this again. I think that this is the way to get people talking about where this congregation could/should go. I see this as a way to get people talking about questions of vision and mission.

At some point in these discussions I will get them to talk about how they will know if Riverview is a "successful" church. What are the signs of success? My denomination continues to consider a New Church Development successful when they build a building--and I find that to be an odd measuring stick.

SO for now I put the question out into the blogosphere. Feel free to comment here or on your own blog (if the latter please let us know in this comments section). What do you consider the hallmarks of a successful congregation? I have to give the answer some more thought myself but I will post more when I get those thoughts in order.

1 comment:

  1. I think a successful congregation is one that is involved and interested in the community around it. The key question would be " what difference would it make to " x community" if the doors of the church closed?" If the response is "none" then where is the outreach and faith life of the people who are the congregation. If the answer is that only those who come would miss it,.. then are we really anything more than a social gathering place. A successful community of faith in my mind is one that lives the
    gospel not only in the church but in daily life. They face the changes of society and try to the best of their ability to understand them from a faith perspective. Stewardship, money, paying the bills, falling attendance numbers, lack of volunteers, changes in commitment to the institution of denominational membership,.. any other problems we face as UCCan are all hard questions for them to struggle with;.. but they want to do so. It becomes a disfunctional, unhealthy place when everyone is so tired that new ideas are dismissed without an attempt at trying even a modified form;.. just because it would be too much work. Change is hard,.. life as it changes is even harder,.. but if we don't embrace the newness of each stage in life how are we going to continue to be whole people of faith. How else will our thinking, listening and hearig develope if we stop when things are comfortable,.. an then spend the rest of our time longing for those days. If you don't encouage a child to explore all facets of life, some will learn to live in fear, others will aways find the ways to make others lives painful;.. one or two may be such inquisitve self starter, they learn in spite of you;.. but most children learn what they see around themselves and if that is indifference, and a let others take the lead attiude,...soon the church will be no more. That is not what we want for our families, for our people, for our communites and for ourselves.
    we want a successful church to be part of the community, one that makes a difference in the lives of rich and poor alike. A place where people come to get ther needs met,... spiritual, physical, mental and emotions. A place of growth, acceptance and safety with a family that you have chosen and they have welcomed you in. Where children are valued for the innocence they bring to faith;.. where the older are sought for the wisdom of eldership,.. and the young and in-betweens are needed to round out the circle of life, that shows us the fullnees of God's love The successful church is one that will be missed by all people of a community, wheither they profess that faith or not, but because of the example of God's blessing that those who worship their so did so in the full knowledge of /god's grace in and among themiath