Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Ultimatum

Yesterday was a pretty solid Sunday. Worship was solid. There were more little squeakers in the nursery than I've seen in years. Our praise team did a solid job. After worship, we had a decent new members class. None of them fell asleep, at least, not for more than a few moments, and they were all trying really hard to stay focused. That was followed by a good, productive, and long session meeting.

And during worship, I told Trinity Presbyterian Church of Bethesda that I will resign in a year unless things improve.

It was a conditional resignation, of course. I really like my congregation. They're good folks, and there's a lot of promise and possibility for our future. Things there are totally, utterly different than when I began six years ago. The congregation has twice as many members. It has more than doubled the attendance in worship. Annual giving has tripled. It is now majority young adult, and this year, it's leadership is on track become majority young adult.

But for the last three years, things have stagnated. Stalled out. Gone nowhere. Our membership numbers are the same. Our worship attendance? Slightly down. Our giving? Also slightly down. If we were a strapping healthy congregation, that could be chalked up to randomness. It could be weathered. But we're not. Not yet. We're a redeveloping church that needs to revitalize if it is to survive. And if we're not growing towards a hopeful future, we will not survive.

And instead of focusing on what matters, we've been putzing around or wallowing in negativity. There's been plenty of 한국드라마, and very little telling the old old story. I could complain about how it's this person's fault or that person's fault. I could claim that the malaise is due to the brutal church fight that just blew a gaping hole in the Korean church that we've been partnering with. Or mutter about endowments and their tendency to instill complacence.

But these are excuses. They mean nothing. Ultimately, the responsibility for failure...and for a church, stagnation is failure...lies with me. It's the pesky thing about being in leadership. If this church isn't growing, the responsibility lies with me.

So the first butt that needs to be kicked into gear is my own. Setting a hard and fast deadline for my own ministry is necessary, because without the realization that the shizzle is on the line, it'd be too easy for me to let things stand.

Of course, it's always been on the line. We're accountable for every last moment of our lives. Sometimes, though, we need a bit of reminding.