By Roger Wenk
Roger has been at FCCBC for three year and currently serves as the chairperson for the Vision and Strategy Team of the Church Council
I’ve recently finished a book called “Churchless” by Barna and Kinnaman. It investigates the decline of attendance in churches as well as some very sobering realities behind the decline. While the population in the United States has grown by 15% since 1991, the number of unchurched adults has nearly doubled.
The findings, patterns and recommendations from this book are backdrops for our Vision and Strategy team to fortify our strategic priorities. In September after fruitful discussion and deliberation, the Church Council prayed and centered ourselves upon these four priorities:
1. We seek to be an inviting church with an outward focus to connect with those around us with intention, authenticity and depth.
2. We value Sabbath rest as a fundamental priority in contrast to the busyness in the world around us. We want to intentionally make time and space for Sabbath.
3. We provide a “spiritual playground.” We honor the diversity of spiritual practices within our community and provide opportunities to experience God in unique ways.
4. We honor, uphold and embrace the differences between us and seek to build relationships across barriers with those not like ourselves. By doing so, we embody difference faithfully.
With these priorities in mind, there were some uncomfortable decisions made for our 2015 budget. These decisions help bridge us with the churchless and support us on our journey on a robust path for sustainable growth. The 2015 budget is an absolute fit to where we are today and to fuel the vision we carry ahead as a spiritual community.
We have authentic leadership. We have focused strategic priorities. We are a bold church, willing to invest in our future. In 37 months I’ve been at FCCBC, I’ve seen the Garden of Dreams transform from a dream to a bountiful garden of wondrous children. I’ve seen the infusion of a gifted and passionate music director. Art will be a focal point here in the near future, just to name a few. A paper awaiting incineration is all that remains of a once massive mortgage. And I’ve met incredible people in this faith community that continue to lift the spirit and lift your love. I’ve seen amazing volunteer work from the most humble people I’ve ever met.
In reminds me of a poem called “Which are you?” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.: “There are two kinds of people on earth today, just two kinds, no more I say…the two kinds of people on earth I mean, are the people who lift, and the people who lean.” We lift. When deep calls to deep, we lift. Thank you for the lifting you do for First Congregational Church of Battle Creek.