Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Changing Lanes

My role is changing. Mount Vernon Place UMC has made the transition. We have gone from a church that was very close to closure. Just four years ago, we had an average age of 82. We took in one new member in a good year and none in many other years. There were times when six weeks would pass without a first-time visitor. Our chair of staff parish relations was 97. The lay leader was 90. The finance committee chair was 93.

Today, our worshipping congregation has doubled. Our average age is around 35. Some 50 new individuals have joined the church. Not a Sunday passes without a few first-time visitors being in worship. And, most of the time they return a second week and a third week and a fourth week. We have an amazing mix of lay leaders - old and young. We have an incredible congregation of babies to 101-year-olds. I love these people! I adore them.

For four years, I have been the engine behind most of the new things, many of the emerging ministries, several of the different ways of doing things. I have been in the birthing room time and again, waiting to see what might come out. It has been incredibly hard at times (actually, downright painful) but amazingly rewarding now that I look back upon it.

We have made the transition. We are no longer declining but growing - becoming more and more alive each day. The place has changed - in beautiful ways.

But, in the last week or so, I have been struggling to identify my place. I seem to have lost the chair that is most comfortable for me. I have been the recipient of emails telling me about new ministries that are starting instead of part of the process of helping the congregation to birth new ministries in healthy ways. I have let go of things that were once really important for me to do, waiting for someone else to do it and if no one steps up, being okay with letting it go.

I do not know how to faithfully make the transition from being in the birthing room to standing at the door, waiting for my high school student to come home.

And so, I am wondering. Those of you who have made this transition, those of you who have shepherded a congregation from decline to growth, how do you do it - how do you keep finding the reason that brought you there? Are there books you found helpful? Are there things you can teach me during this time? What is my role? How do I adjust to these changes?

If you have nothing to offer, I covet your prayers. I am struggling with how to change lanes - the road on which we are traveling has definitely changed.

No comments: