An Exciting Future Worth The Sacrifice
What an amazing weekend we just experienced at Central. My personal thanks go out to Sheila Walsh for sacrificing her Mother's day to bring a message of hope and life. People were encouraged, inspired, challenged and lives were changed.
This coming weekend, May 15, we welcome Pastor Kevin Myers of 12Stone Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin is a gifted and prophetic teacher who will bring an inspiring message of challenge to us on our Stronger theme.
The other day I had a conversation with someone who asked me what was driving "Stronger - Home and Away." They'd heard about it and were interested. I pointed out that "Stronger" was the next step in what we've called our "Water's Edge Vision" of being a multi-site church of at least six campuses by 2020. I said 'the next step' because since the introduction of the Water's Edge Vision on May 3, 2015 we have already tackled a number of challenges including:
- adding campuses,
- upgrading technology, and
- adapting internal structures (e.g.. communications)
We've made incredible progress over the last year and I am so thankful to serve alongside a staff team committed to diligence and with a congregation willing to do what it takes to bring the hope and life of Jesus to even more people. The Water's Edge vision behind our Stronger Challenge is about people and not buildings nor numbers. I can't repeat that enough...
As we move forward I thought it wise to unpack some of the drivers behind this next phase of the Water's Edge Vision, which we've entitled, Stronger. I've shared these a number of times but I guess there's no harm in doing so again. When we talk about being "Stronger at Home and Away" we do so convinced of God's call to build bridges to the future ministry needs that we have as a faith family. America has changed and will continue to change. We sense God calling us to stay faithful to the message but retool to present it in a fresh way. Here are five drivers behind our Stronger Challenge:
- Central was, is and will remain a church committed to the mission of Christ in the world. It is not about us but Him. We strive to see the rule and reign of God experienced on earth just as it is in heaven. Jesus taught us to pray for this and that prayer drives us to work for it too.
- Central is and will remain an intergenerational church. We love the fact that at Central young and old worship together. That isn't without its challenges but what God is doing at Central is fashioning an inclusive community which is a model for society as a whole. We love inter-generationality.
- Our fruitfulness away is dependent upon our continued strength at home. Churches invest less in the mission of Christ when they become weaker at home. In a day when many churches reduce missions and cut missionaries from budgets due to no longer being able to do what they once did, we take it upon ourselves to do what we must at home to make sure that we can keep on giving and keep on going.
- Both the older and younger generations have needs that impact our ability to remain strong at home. We are blessed with a wonderful facility through which we can facilitate ministry. Nonetheless, our older (legacy) generation have mobility management issues that impair their ability to be included at home. Someone has said that the worst thing for the legacy generation is not being alone but being forgotten by those they love and sacrificed for. Our 100ft promise is a commitment not to disparage the faithful saints who have served faithfully and given sacrificially! The younger generation has needed adequate next gen space for the last 20 years (recognized in capital stewardship materials as far back as 1996, repeated in 2006 but never actioned). The children’s ministry declined over the last decade as our church aged. We want to create an environment that is conducive to families too.
- The way people both view and access the church has changed and will continue to change. For most of my life I ministered in a post-Christian context where the church was considered irrelevant. In Europe the local church has to work very hard for someone to take the truth of the Gospel seriously. Sadly, America has rapidly followed suit. The church isn't viewed as she once was and the name of Jesus is foreign to many young children in our local schools. We must act.
These five headlines have led us to the Water’s Edge Vision, reflected in the Stronger Challenge. To remain a church capable of sustaining ministry beyond our four walls for decades to come we must deal with the challenges facing our legacy and next generations and retool our facility to reflect their needs but also how people access the church. That is why we are retooling to add a Playland, Next Gen wing and legacy rooms with improved access (with the 100ft guarantee).
But there is more to the Water's Edge Vision and the Stronger Challenge than this. If it is true, and it is, that people are not coming to church as they once did, we are committed to employing a structure and strategy that takes the church to them. That strategy is the multi-site strategy, a strategy that creates an intentional 'going structure' within Central through the creation of campuses. I've written at length about the uniqueness of our campusing structure - a merger of the typical church plant and multi-site campus strategies (available on the Central website under the Stronger Tab; you will need to scroll to the bottom!). One such campuses, La Roca, needs a new home closer to the Spanish community and another, a regional campus under the leadership of Pastor Toran, will launch regular Sunday services next year. The point is: if people don’t come to us, we will go to them.
God is doing great things at Central. The changes we made last year, while challenging for some, have already had a significant impact. For example, we're more racially diverse than we were a year ago. We've added younger families back into the church (our kids ministry is up by over 20% over the first quarter of 2014). We've seen more people make a personal profession of faith in the Lord Jesus this year. I could go on. We have a long way to go in all these areas but we're thankful for what God is doing! Our Annual report that will be released in August will reveal just how much God HAS ALREADY DONE!
As our Spotlight Sunday revealed we are moved to bring the hope and life of Jesus to all people. The initiatives coming in to play in the Stronger Challenge will strengthen people’s access to the hope and life Jesus calls us to bring. Older people, children and students, young adults and families will all be able to connect in a new and fresh way to the hope and life of Jesus that we're proclaiming at Central. The result of all this will be that we will become stronger inter-generationally and consequently, missionally too. That is, we will become stronger at home and away.
These are exciting days at Central. God is working.
Thanks for being a part of it!