Dear Church Family,
In this article, I’m going to share with you where we are as a church and where we go from here. Let me illustrate the life cycle of a church by using three colors. Green is the color for growth. Yellow is the color that represents a mixture of growth and decline. Red is the color for decline. When a church is in the green it’s growing in most areas. The members are growing individually, the church is growing numerically, and the gospel mission of the church is expanding. When a church is in the yellow, many of the members may be growing individually but the church is not growing numerically and its gospel reach is declining. When a church is in the red, most signs of growth are in decline. Prior to the pandemic, we were in the yellow. The Lord was gracious to us and we made it through the pandemic and have experienced growth in some areas. However, our additions have not outpaced our subtractions which have caused us to move further down the scale. As we enter 2023, I believe we’re in the bottom half of the yellow. This presents us with many challenges but also with many opportunities.
Before I share with you how we’ll move forward, let me share with you our current reality. Our current reality as a church includes both signs of growth as well as signs of decline. First, let me share the signs of growth that I see in you. I see spiritual growth in you. I believe you are growing in your love for God, in your knowledge of God, and in your involvement in the mission of God. When we’re gathered together, I see the love that you have for one another. I also see your love for others as you welcome those who are new to our church family. You believe the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. You give generously of your time, talents, and treasure to the mission of God. You can’t manufacture those signs of growth. They are truly a testimony to the Spirit of God working in and through you. I am very encouraged by these signs of growth and I believe they will continue.
Now let me share some of the challenges of our current reality. This year was the first year since the pandemic with no restrictions. This has helped give us an accurate picture of where we are. Two indicators that are concerning are worship attendance and giving. These are not the only indicators that I’m looking at when I consider the health of our church but they are two of them. Worship attendance helps us see if we’re being effective in reaching new people with the gospel. Giving helps us see if people are becoming more generous which is a sign of spiritual growth. Giving also determines the church’s staffing, facilities, and mission objectives for the year. On this side of the pandemic, we’ve seen a decline of about 20% in our worship attendance and our giving. This is not unusual and is in line with what other churches in the nation are experiencing. However, for a church our size this percentage is very significant. It has pushed us down the scale and has placed us very close to the red.
My conclusion is that if we don’t make some bold moves in 2023 then The Hill Baptist Church may not exist in 3 to 5 years. Once a church reaches a certain point on the scale it becomes extremely difficult for that church to grow again. Our current reality is that we’re facing some challenges but thankfully we have the opportunity to make the necessary changes so that we can be more effective in the mission God has given us. I believe if we’re willing to make those changes then the ministry of The Hill Baptist Church will continue for many years to come.
This leads us to ask the question, “What changes need to be made?”
The deacons and I have been prayerfully discussing what changes need to be made for the past several months. But we need your help. We need you to join us in prayer as we seek God’s direction for the church. This is why we’re calling the church to start 2023 with 21 days of prayer and fasting. I have put together a guide for you to use during this time. You can pick up a printed copy in the vestibule of the church. You can access an electronic version on our website. You can also call the church office and have one mailed to you. Along with the guide, I’ll be spending the first four Sundays in January sharing more about this process. The deacons and I will be meeting throughout January to seek the Lord and finalize the plan for the changes that need to be made. Please join us in prayer and fasting as we seek the Lord during this crucial time. Pray for direction but also pray for openness to what God may have us do. We must all come to God with open hands, completely surrendered to Him.
Our current reality is a mixture of growth and decline. It’s my prayer that our future will be more characterized by growth. Let’s seek the Lord together and ask Him to help us become the people He wants us to be.
Pastor Ron Jones