I’m going to talk about Easter but you have to read on to see what I’m going to say.
At the March session meeting, our session unanimously voted to extend my interim pastoral contract for another year. In May, I will have finished up three years and will begin my fourth year. It’s not exactly an interim, is it? Someone asked me how long I planned to stay and I answered that I plan to stay as long as Ken Johnson has been our Clerk of Session, 52 years and counting. That will make me 125 years old when I leave here.
An interim is hired by the Session, and not voted upon by the congregation, which is the case when the congregation calls a permanent pastor. There is a 60 day notice on the part of either party, and I like that. It means that if the Session feels it is time for the interim to move on, they can give a 60 day notice. And vice versa. If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I will stay at FPC until your next and permanent pastor comes.
I never intended to stay this long, but each year there has seemed to be unfinished business for me. In the main, I have wanted to congregation to be stable and happy. (I saw a sign the other day which said “Don’t mess with happy.”) Stable in attendance at worship and in finances. And happy in that most everyone loves being part of this church.
We are stable financially. We ended last year with an $18,000 surplus. We have over $40, 000 in the Chris Harri account, and over $100,000 in reserves. Our preschool has turned the corner and in the first two months of this year has showed a positive variance.
There remains one major task for you and me, and that is to attract enough new members to replace those we lose by death, mobility and inactivity. At present we will run out of members before we run out of money.
To that end, I will dedicate my efforts in the coming year. Visitors to our church tell us they like what they find. Recently, a mother of one of our regular visitors was in town and came to worship. Afterward, her daughter asked her mother what she thought. “It feels like home,” the mother answered.
In coming months, I will suggest some strategies for modest church growth at FPC. No, we don’t want to be a mega church, but yes we do want friends and neighbors to find the love and inspiration we have discovered here
For openers, invite a friend or family member to attend one of our Easter services. They will be held at 9:00 am and 10:30 am. Note the change from our regular time. Our bell choir will play and chancel choir will sing and I will be preaching an Easter message.
All of us are called by Jesus to be evangelists. What that means, I think, is not that we ask friends and family if they are saved. No, what it means is that we say “I love our church and think you will too. Come with me next Sunday.”
We must plan for growth, pray for growth, and program for growth. Let’s start with Easter this year, sharing the good news of the resurrection with someone else.