Last Saturday, 25 people attended our Overcomer movie night outreach. Sunday morning, about the same number of people or less showed up for church. Throughout the fall, we averaged in the 40s and high 30s. In January, we’ve lived in the mid to upper 20s. When you consider the people who call CBC home, we should average in the mid to high 40s.
So, looking at a near-empty sanctuary depresses me as a pastor. Yet I feel an ironic optimism for this year. I will share several reasons I feel this enthusiasm for the new year.
Four reasons for hope at CBC
First of all, we have buy-in
On January 18, we hosted a kids’ night at the church. We had 19 people show up. We had I believe 10 to 12 kids show up. We had several visitors. Consider the numbers we pulled for Sunday morning services. Nineteen people showing up for a kids’ night represents massive buy-in and a willingness for our people to invest in ministry.
On February 9, our Overcomer movie night brought 25 through our doors; 22 of those people represented the CBC family. CBC family showed up for something we committed to as a church.
Looking ahead at the next three months, I see a full roster for all of our regular volunteer scheduling. Nursery, church cleaning, greeting, and grounds maintenance are all fully staffed. That is nearly 12 more weeks of service covered by volunteers! We have struggled with this in the past. This year, we have buy-in and volunteers willing to serve.
I honestly don’t have a master grand plan for improving numbers at CBC. But I genuinely believe that as people show up and unite and pull in the same direction, God will do some great things.
Secondly, we have financial stability and opportunities
Thanks to the generosity of many throughout the church, our giving numbers stopped declining through the fall. This generosity means starting the new year; we were able to set a budget with greater confidence than we have in the past. Money certainly isn’t everything, but it is a tool we use to enable ministry. When numbers decline, we have to make hard choices and cuts. Reductions to the ministry we do happens.
As many of you have noticed, we have seen an uptick in the ways we are using Thrivent grants. These $250 grants from Thrivent financial have provided creative ways for us to do more ministry for less. For example, all the expenses for the movie night last weekend were paid by a Grant. Currently, as a church, we have access to six Thrivent grants for the year. Doing the math, that is $1500 of resources to do ministry. $1500 not coming out of the pockets of our faithful members.
Looking ahead, we are preparing to apply for another more substantial grant. It’s called a congregational resource grant. The center for congregations, a group in Indiana, writes these grants to support churches. They are dollar matching grants that can be invested in people, for example, in a retreat. We hope to use one of these grants to plan our 2020 retreat.
In short, we are doing whatever we can to find more resources to do the work we think God has called us to.
Third, we have strategic partnerships.
Right now, we are talking to some of the people at the World Gospel Church to partner with them for a vacation Bible school program. They want to host a program in the Meadows elementary field. They have invited us to partner with them since we are in the area. WGC is about 10 to 12 times our size. This partnership will allow us to make a difference in our neighborhood and provide a kids ministry this summer for our kids. And we can do this without exhausting our limited volunteer base.
Fourth, we are the church of Jesus Christ.
Honestly, my optimism for CBC stems first from my faith in Jesus. As an elder board and as your pastor, we and I work hard to submit our plans and work to God’s leading. To whatever extent we are teaching God’s word and worshiping his Son, God will lead us in the way he’s called us to go. Jesus said He would build his church, and the gates of hell will not stand against it. We are his church.
I hope a few of these thoughts encourage you. I imagine pretty much anyone who has made it this far attends CBC. Take hope! God is doing good things at our church. Pray with me for the church