You may be curious to hear about planning for the start of an outreach campaign for our church. What kind of campaign will it be? Does it have a motto, or even an icon? And what does it hope to accomplish? When will it start?
These are more questions than anyone could answer at this moment. The campaign committee has just met twice, and it decided to split temporarily in smaller work groups to deal with some of these questions. John Keller, Ben Berman, Nicola Mammes, Gary Bernhofer, Lolly Schenck, and both of us pastors are part of this committee. We report to Invitation & Outreach and to Consistory.
So far, one thing seems clear. It’s not going to be a campaign of simple church growth. No matter how you turn it, such a campaign would view new members not as ends in themselves but as means to achieve goals, numeric goals. 10 new members by Christmas; 20 by Easter, and so forth!
Moreover, too often the model of pure membership growth presupposes that new members will simply be added to an existing congregation, and that this amounts to nothing more but an expansion of what was already there. Growth is perceived as not much more but an increase in numbers. Under this model, new members are oftentimes expected to “assimilate”.
We all know that this does not work. New members will want to bring their own ideas, values and customs. This will require some readiness for change on the side of those who have been here for a while.
But you know what? The good part is that this type of discussion will actually help us to keep our identity alive. It’s like this: When we are not challenged by questions and the offer of alternatives, we begin to take for granted our old ways. Sometimes, we take them so much for granted that we even forget their original meaning. By contrast, it is much better for our sense of identity, if it has to prove itself in an environment of change and transformation.
Thank you for letting me share with you these preliminary thoughts on our campaign. More will follow in the weeks and months to come.
With fond wishes,