The Vision Project: Why is all this necessary?

Our last communication talked about The Vision Project: Belong, Become, Beyond and explained how, over the past year and with God’s guidance, Erin’s pastor, session, and staff developed strategies to help us fulfill our vision. This second message answers the question: Why do we need to do this right now?

Why is it urgent that we take action now? The world around us has changed significantly in the last two decades. Fewer people believe in God, and even fewer have faith in Jesus as God’s son. This is true for Generation X—people between ages 40 and 54—and even more so for millennials who are currently 25 to 39. Even among believers, fewer feel it’s necessary to support a local church. We’re busier than ever, and with so many activities and events clamoring for attention, church has a hard time competing.

Erin has also seen changes. Because people today are involved in so many other activities and don’t see church as a priority, fewer members are willing to work on ministry teams, help with children’s programs, join a Bible study or Sunday school class, or take on a leadership role. As a result, those who are actively involved often wear multiple hats and face increasing stress and burnout. We can bemoan the fact that churches, and Christians, don’t enjoy the high regard they once did, but the old days aren’t coming back. If we want to be a strong, vital congregation, we have to figure out how we can be a compelling influence for God in the world as it is today.

Churches, just like businesses, social clubs, and other organizations, must respond to their ever-changing environment if they want to remain relevant. But churches aren’t used to thinking this way. We are rightfully proud of our heritage, and we celebrate Erin’s presence in this community for 142 years. But maintaining the status quo is not a viable option. All organizations go through developmental stages, from birth to death, just like people. However, unlike people, organizations can reinvent themselves and live for hundreds of years.

Throughout its history Erin has experienced this rebirth multiple times, or it wouldn’t still be here. Recently, though, we’ve had to expend most of our effort and resources just to keep things going. As a result, we’ve spent less time seeking new ways to encourage spiritual growth and share God’s good news with those around us. Without realizing it, we’ve focused more and more on ourselves, and our impact in the community has become more limited.

At this stage, we must either transition to a revitalized congregation … or continue to decline. As our pastor, session, and staff prayerfully considered where we are and where God is leading us, we chose to move forward. We’re seeing evidence already that members welcome this new direction; the overwhelming response to our “church outside the walls” at Sunset Gap in March is a great example. We believe the strategies God has led us to adopt will, with His help, keep us on the path to renewal and revival.

To learn more, check out the latest presentation on the Vision Project section of our website at Why is all this necessary? We also invite you to join us on a couple of Sunday mornings before church to find out more and ask questions. The first discussion is this Sunday, June 9, and it will be offered again on June 30. Join us on either day from 9:30 to 10:45 for coffee and tea, muffins, and conversation. We look forward to talking more about what we’re doing and why, and how you fit in.

In Christ’s love,

Your Pastor, Staff, and Session