Before I begin allow me a small facebook group update. My group is hanging in there at a steady 14 (in other words, no change). The VOR's group an insulting 34! (for the record, she did invite me but who likes pity?)
Now onto the State of the Church Address, 2009 edition. Earlier this week I had someone tell me they were coming for the first time (I thought about telling them to wait till next week, but the person is going to divinity school soon and I thought it would be good for them to hear). Background - one time I held some ambition to be a politician but decided against it. While in div. school our President would hold an annual state of the school address. Therefore, I combined these two experiences for an Annual State of the Church Address on the same Sunday as the Annual Meeting. As an aside, the first one of these I delivered a gentleman in the congregation had a pen and paper and wrote down my sermon almost word for word! This year there was no one taking down notes but there were several laughs, some tears, and some questions afterwards.
State of the Church: Growth again (we took in more than lost). Financial: surplus. Sunday School: progress, better programming and more enthusiasm. Property: finished and dedicated outdoor chapel. Spiritually: prayer groups started. Musically: new pianist and new director starting to come together. Community: continuing to be in formation but doing better.
There are still many areas for growth. Evangelism, need to develop better practice of effective sharing of faith. Financially, rely too much of fund raisers (we did, however, reduce them for the coming year to a comfortable number). Pastoring a church aint easy but it is a worthwhile and rewarding vocation. I hope the fellow who came this morning saw the challenge ahead of him, they are real and difficult, but I also hope he saw the promises, rewards and genuine joy available to him, they vastly outweigh the difficulties.