At the beginning of our Vestry meetings, we spend 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning on formation. I will lead a devotion, or throw out some discussion questions. At our October meeting last week, I read a reading from a book called Beyond Business As Usual by Neal O. Michell. In the reading, Michell talks about Rick Warren’s popular book The Purpose-Driven Church, which many church leaders are using these days to inspire spiritual growth in their congregations. Michell talks about using this book with his own Vestry and, drawing on Warren’s work, asked the Vestry to reflect and discuss on what drives their church. In other words, he asked them to fill in the blank: “Our church is a _____-driven church.”
He talked about how one person on the Vestry claimed that the church was “crisis-driven,” based on their rocky history. This was a turning point for his Vestry and his congregation, as they moved from “crisis-driven” to something more positive.
So at our Vestry meeting, I decided to ask the same question of our Vestry. I asked them to reflect on the last few month in the congregation, our last few Vestry meetings, and be honest about what was driving our church today. I gave them all index cards to write on and some time to think about it. After watching them write for a few minutes, I collected the cards and read them aloud. I’m not sure what I expected, but here were their answers:
“Our church is a people/programs-driven church.”
“Our church is a Growing People-driven church. By growing people they become closer to God by worshipping him and doing his will.”
“Our church is a people (welcoming community)-driven church.”
“Our church is a growth-driven church.”
“Our church is a welcoming-driven church.”
“Our church is a community-driven church.”
Isn’t that something? Even though the answers were different, of the 6 Vestry members gathered (3 members were unable to attend that night), there was a very common theme running through. We are squarely focused on people, and growing them both in terms of depth and amount. For me, this was incredibly encouraging! Many churches out there are struggling to keep the doors open, but St. Nicholas is thriving. It has mainly to do with the Holy Spirit and each one of you being open to that Spirit. I see you opening your arms to newcomers who walk in the door. I see you feeding your own mind and spirit through our Adult Formation classes. I see you taking care of one another during sickness and tragedy. I see you out in the community finding needs and filling them. I see you creating opportunities like Lobsterfest and Trunk or Treat to include our community in what we do at St. Nicholas.
It’s an incredibly exciting time for all of us. On Sunday, after our Celebration Meal, Hank Houser will be with us to present our Master Site Plan. It will be a rough sketch of what our buildings and grounds may look like and will give us a roadmap for our future growth. This growth all has to do with YOU and the work you are doing with God right alongside you.
We don’t know yet when we will start a building campaign, but if we continue to be the “growing-people-welcoming-community”-driven church, who knows what can happen!
To God be the glory!