Sunday, April 26, 2009

Open Letter to my Church…

Dear Church Family,

The Master Plan Task Force has just presented their proposal for the future of our church campus. They have worked with a professional planning firm and the Pastoral Staff to formulate a master plan to be implemented in four phases over the next 15 – 20 years. The congregation will vote on this proposal in a special called meeting on Sunday, May 3, 2009 during the two morning services.

Materials presenting the master plan were mailed to the entire membership. There have been three open meetings for people to discuss this proposal and have their questions answered. I attended those meetings. They were attended by about 150 people, or approximately 15% of our residential church membership.

I have decided to express my personal response to this proposal in a blog post. It is because of my love for this local fellowship and the important ministries in which it is active that I give voice to my perspective.

If the proposed Master Plan is adopted and implemented, within 15-20 years, our congregation will:

  1. Raise approximately $15-$20 million dollars
  2. Upgrade sound, lights and projection in the worship center
  3. Do needed maintenance to existing facilities
  4. Add an education wing
  5. Add office space
  6. Add a welcome area inside a new circle drop-off at the front entrance
  7. Remove all existing homes on our site currently used for:
    • Education space
    • Youth Ministry
    • 24 hour Prayer Ministry
    • Missionary residence while on home assignment
    • Transitional Living for families temporarily homeless due to disaster or misfortune
    • Storage for Mexico Mission Ministry plus other storage purposes
    • Missionary or Transitional Living residence
  8. Replace most of the area where homes were removed with parking lot
  9. Build a new Youth Center
  10. Add a building for vehicle and maintenance materials storage
  11. Build a new 800 seat worship center

The stated reason for the addition of the educational wing is so that our Sunday morning Bible classes will have adequate room for growth. Currently Bible classes for all ages meet during one hour between the two morning services.

The stated reason for the new 800 seat worship center is so that our two services will be able to combine into one. Surveys have shown that the congregation would prefer to be together in one Sunday morning service.

When asked if other solutions to accommodate growth had been considered such as multiple Sunday class times, a Saturday evening worship service, developing a mission church outreach etc., the answer was "No" because the congregation had spoken in the past and was opposed to those concepts.

What are some of my responses to this proposal?

I support parts of this proposal such as maintenance of existing facilities and upgrades in the existing worship center and office space.

But the huge commitment of time, energy and money which will be required in order for this proposal to be implemented is something which I think needs careful consideration. If we focus on the needs of a lost world, we could provide for growth in our present space as we adjust scheduling of services and classes. This would free up money, time and energy to more strategically respond to the vast needs of an unreached world.

In the past few days I have been searching for information about the world –

  • how much of the world has been reached with the message of Jesus Christ,
  • how evenly are personnel and resources distributed,
  • how are believers responding to needs, etc.

What I found are statistics that are enlightening, disturbing and challenging.

World Mission Statistics documents comparisons between Worlds A, B and C. Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. World A – the Unevangelized World has:
    • 20,500 full-time Christian workers
    • 0.1% of all Christian literature
    • 0.1% of all Christian radio/TV
    • 29.6% of global population
    • 12.1% of global income
  2. World B – the Evangelized Non-Christian World has:
    • 1.31 million full-time Christian workers
    • 8.9% of all Christian literature
    • 3.9% of all Christian radio/TV
    • 40.1% of global population
    • 35.3% of global income
  3. World C – the Christian World has:
    • 4.19 million full-time Christian workers (95%)
    • 91% of all Christian literature is consumed by World C
    • 96% of all Christian radio/TV output is directed at World C
    • 33% of global population
    • 52.6% of global income
    • 99.9% of Christian Income spent on themselves
    • .09% on evangelized Non-Christian World
    • .01% on Unevangelized World

Other things I found in my research:

  • 40% of the church's entire global foreign mission resources are being deployed to just 10 over-saturated countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.
  • Christians spend more on the annual audits of their churches and agencies ($180 million) than on all their workers in the non-Christian world.
  • Total number of Christians since AD 33 is just 23% of the human race

Much more can be learned about the disparity in the world related to personnel and resources. I recommend further research in order to see what awaits the serious follower of Christ.

The world needs to hear about and come to know Jesus in a personal way. He commanded us to Go and make disciples of all nations. We must be about our Father's business which is to be fishers of men. There is so much waiting to be done in order for the lost to hear the good news of forgiveness and salvation. We may need to make some sacrifices and accommodate inconvenience in order that more souls will be added to the kingdom. It is a small price to pay when viewed from God's perspective.

I do pray for us as we decide whether or not to approve this proposal. I desire for God to be honored and glorified in all that our fellowship embarks on. We have a history of being mission-minded. The homes we have which provide for missionaries and individuals with needs are a wonderful way to share God's love with those needing rest and restoration.

What is the Father's will for the future of our local church? I'm praying that we will discern and do that will as a godly, selfless, loving, caring and faithful people. May our passionate impact on the world continue to be strong, disciplined and effective. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. How grateful and fortunate I am to be part of this fellowship where we all can worship, serve and grow.

A Fellow Servant of Jesus Christ,

Linda Worden

Update : The church voted on May 3rd to approve the proposal with a 91% majority. I am not surprised but I am saddened.

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