Monday, January 27, 2014

Ministry Monday: Reports Can Be Fun

Recently our church had our Annual Society Meeting, a great time of mirth and merriment that makes birthday parties feel like dental appointments. Since I had so much fun writing and giving my report, I thought I would share the joy here. 

Honestly, what follows is close to my heart, and only a portion of what I shared at the meeting. 

I sit before a blank screen each year and think through what I want to say to this esteemed audience. Realizing this is the twelfth time I have done this doesn’t exactly make it easier, wondering how I can keep this fresh, since I am quite certain many of you have taken copious notes from previous years. Obviously there are a few things I want to accomplish;
    • I’d like to paint myself as the Stephen Hawking of Christian discipleship.
    • I’d like to point out several of the many deserving volunteers who have given much.
    • I want to offer hope for what’s coming while not making all that’s happened so far seem pointless.
    • I’d like to be funny.
So, with all these goals set before me, I set to writing, realizing I may not accomplish any of my goals.
I did ask my wife if she had any good ideas. Perhaps doubting that anyone is actually listening, she suggested I pull out my report from my 5th year and use that. (That would be 2007) The references to people no longer here and programs no longer used might tip off the few of you still listening.
Then she suggested the airing of grievances, a nod to the show Seinfeld and their made-up holiday of Festivus, where family members took the holiday time they had together to tell one another all the problems they had with one another. This seems absurd…and yet, I have been prone to try things just as crazy. Does anyone recall those 6 weeks of sermons this past fall?
If we accept that not everything is perfect around here…
If we consider that things can always be improved upon…
If we are willing to internalize the need for better without allowing it to cause us to feel defeated already…
Then maybe an introspective look at what we’re doing around here would be a good thing. Or, in other words, what would a report sound like if I were to say what I actually think needs to happen?
Our church adopted a mission statement last year which states,
The purpose of the WLFMC is to serve Christ, His Church and our community
by making more and growing better disciples in the Lord Jesus Christ.
More and Better. Those are not words we would use if we were content with what we have. Otherwise our mission statement would read that we are to serve Christ, His Church and our community by doing the same thing we’ve always done and hoping for more of the same.
More and Better. Those words sound, to me, like we have an agreed upon goal that what we have here, in worship and community, is good enough to share with others. I would agree with this notion, offering that this kind of thinking is in line with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, both given us by Jesus Himself.
How can we make more and grow better disciples through our systems of Christian Education? Our reach is to all ages. While I would normally start with children’s ministries, I realize that real-time results do not often happen that way. There was a survey done last year dealing with families and Christianity.  
It found that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow. However, when the father is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow.
An American study found similar results on the impact of fathers. It found:[32]
  • When both parents attend Sunday school, 72% of the children attend Sunday school when grown.
  • When only the father attends Sunday school, 55% of the children attend when grown.
  • When only the mother attends Sunday school, 15% of the children attend when grown.
  • When neither parent attends Sunday school, only 6% of the children attend when grown.

So I believe it is imperative that we consider how we approach discipleship in keeping with reality. So let’s begin with adults, and specifically, men.
We have a system of discipleship we call Connection Groups. This includes our Sunday School classes. We have a concept of scheduling based on the semester schedules of the school systems. Is this because we are all in school or have children and teens in school? No.
But seeking More and Better means we base our systems on those who are not yet here, not of those who are already here. To put it in a way Jesus would, ‘it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’ So our system, at least in concept, is set to benefit those we do not yet have a lot of; primarily young families, singles and college students.
Why is this important? Because we need to be about seeing adults connect in groups where their faith can grow. If we are to believe even a shadow of the statistics are true, then the development of the faith of one generation will affect the discipleship of the next.
What is my goal? Nothing short of 100%. I don’t say that flippantly, nor will I count 2014 a dismal failure if we don’t have every single attendee of WLFMC in Sunday School or a small group, but: If discipleship is important at all, then it is important enough for all.  

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