January 9, 2018

Reflecting on the Past – In Preparation for the Future

The year 2017 has ended and many of us cannot wait to continue to jump into 2018. Like children at Christmas I guess it is natural to reach out for the new shiny toys and discard the old and used ones without consideration. Now that we are all grown up I think it is worthwhile to do some reflection on the passing year as we prepare for the new. Many congregations do this reflection in the form of Mutual Ministerial reviews, primarily with the Vestry and Clergy. However, I think these reflections should be expanded to the total life of the congregation. Asking the simple questions, should we do more of this or less of this, with the answers helping to make the positive adjustments needed to enhance our corporate lives together. For example:

  • In our worship, questions can be asked about the music, if it working well for all ages and demographics (then do more of), if complaints (then do less of), how about the Mid-week Service, the Bible Study, the service times, etc.
  • In our outreach, questions can be asked about the groups that meet in the church, the outreach programs that we are currently engaged in, groups or individuals we are partnered with, the funding sources for our outreach, and outreach-pastoral care for our own congregation
  • With our youth, are we engaged in activities at the diocesan and national levels, do we have a good balance of social activity with Christian education, do we need additional teachers, are youth involved in service projects
  • What about our buildings, have we done inspections, are we in need of a capital campaign for major repairs, do we have an ongoing list of minor repairs, do we need to change contractors that we are using for these projects
  • With our finances, do we need a more robust stewardship program, are we sharing the financial status of the church with our congregations, are we overdue for an audit, do we need an assistant treasurer
  • With our guilds, are they doing the same programs with dwindling results, should guilds be combined because of similar programs, should we add a guild because a specific ministry is not being covered e.g. Health Guild

This may sound overwhelming but we can request each organization or responsible individual to prayerfully reflect on their area of responsibility, ask these questions and give a response by the end of January. We can then analyze the results. They may be interesting, sad, exciting or a waste of time, but at least we asked and now have permission to jump into the new year with all the joy and anxiety that we know it will bring.

Happy New Year!!