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Pastor’s Page - November 2013
“A NOT SO FUNNY RIDDLE”
Here‘s a riddle for you: “What do MISSION - MONEY - MANAGEMENT all have
in common? The answer: They are the three major reasons why small churches
close their doors. Over the past decade, quite a number of studies have been
done by various research groups and major church denominations that tried to
answer the question of why small churches close. The highest percentage
indicates that Mission - Money - Management all interact to close churches.
What is the MISSION of the Christian Church on earth? Every Christian should
be able to make a clear, simple, statement of the mission of the Church. Even
if they can’t cite Scripture, they should at least be able to describe what
their congregation is doing by what they see happening around them--if that
congregation is in Mission.
Some small congregations are so focused on survival that they’ve lost
sight of their mission. Unless a church understands its God-given purpose and
lives it, it will not survive. God has a unique vision for each congregation,
and it is the responsibility of its spiritual and lay leadership to discern
that vision and begin to live in it. Scripture is correct when it says, “I am
sending you to them to open their eyes and turn they from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of
sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts
26:17b-18) Without a vision, people perish.
Mission vs. Building: One of the greatest contrasts between the first
century Christian Church that added thousands to their membership on just one
Sunday (Pentecost - Acts 2 and 3), to the 21st Century Church, is that in the
first century, there were no church buildings. Christians met in homes, behind
hedgerows, and in caves. Their Mission was the most important thing in their
MONEY was the most often cited reason why small churches close their doors.
In many smaller churches you will likely see a lot of gray hair. These churches
are aging and, as members become unable to attend church due to death or
illness, younger persons do not replace them.
It is well established that younger generations do not tithe or give to the
church as the “builder” and “boomer” generations did. Many smaller
churches also do not make it easy to contribute to the church. There was a time
that “cash, check, or money order” was the standard way of conducting all
business. That method has nearly ceased to exist.
Everything today is done by debit card, direct deposit, or “on line”
bill payment. A large percentage of people today don’t even carry cash
anymore. Churches haven’t kept up with that trend in today’s world. Most
churches aren’t equipped for giving through these three modern methods.
MANAGEMENT, or perhaps a more accurate term, might be mismanagement. One of
the greatest misconceptions in congregations today is that they call a pastor
expecting him to be trained to be the Chief Executive Officer of the church.
Nothing can be further from the truth. From the very beginning of the Church,
pastors have had a very distinct Scriptural job description -- to be the
overseer of the spiritual matters of the congregation. That means the pastor is
called to publicly preach, teach, and administer the Sacraments on behalf of
that congregation. They provide spiritual care to the congregation and the
individual member solely from God’s Word. The seminary trains the pastor to
be able to efficiently do that. But it is God who equips the individual pastor
with specific gifts of overseeing.
This requires the management of a congregation’s secular affairs be done
by the laity. Once viewed by early Christians as an honored position to serve
Christ and their fellow man, it is now viewed more as an unpleasant chore that
requires more time than a person wishes to give to the church.
As a congregation’s membership ages, moves away, and declines, fewer
members are willing to fill these leadership positions. Some congregations just
give up and don’t fill the positions, while others utilize the same few
people continuously. The result is that the God-given Mission suffers.
Every mainline Christian Church has some sort of Constitution that regulates
how that Church is going to operate at every level of its governance--from
Synod level to congregational leve. Those Constitutions were developed through
a long, trying, and often painful trial and error process to determine which
structure worked best in fulfilling the Mission of the Church. The sole purpose
of the Constitution has always been to structure the congregation in such a way
that the God-given Mission of the Church can be carried out successfully. The
Church Constitution that exists today is the time-proven and Satan-tested
result of what works to fulfill the Mission of the Church.
Rev. John A Wilman
Sources: Barna Group Reasearch; Christian Insight Studies; Bickers Studies
on Church Growth
THE MISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH ON EARTH:
See: Mathew 28:16-20; Mark 13:10; Matthew 4:19; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 2
CHURCH TIMES: St. John’s worship service starts at 8 AM;
coffee & fellowship after.
St. Paul’s Sunday School starts at 9:00 AM; juice, coffee,
bakery & fellowship are offered at 9 AM; worship begins at 9:30 AM.
St. Paul’s will now hold quarterly voters’ meetings, with Council meetings
held each month.
ST. Paul’s Ladies Aid/LWML voted to hold their meetings
after worship service, the first Sunday of the month, for every month of the
year, not just winter months. The ladies are taking on the project of
replacing the sink in the Sacristy. Thank you from the ladies for the wonderful
turnout at the Annual Chili Supper, Craft, Bake Sale, and Silent Auction.
Election of officers was held at the November 3rd meeting. Elected president
for 2014-15 is Kathie Krarup, elected secretary is Julie Heiden.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CHILDREN will lead in worship
service with the Lord’s Praryer on Sunday, November 11th.
ST. PAUL’S WILL HOLD HUNTERS’ NIGHT on Wed.,
Nov. 20th with a Hunters‘ Supper at 6 PM followed by Hunter‘s Worship
service at 7 PM.
CHICKEN DINNER CHALLENGE: Pastor John and Jeanne
Wilman will host a chicken dinner for the entire St. Paul congregation when
they reach the goal of 85 people in one worship service.
NEW LOOK AT ST. PAUL’S CHURCH FRONT: Besides the
new LED sign in front of St. Paul Lutheran Church, the trustees have replaced
the boards on the deck and ramp, as well as replaced the wooden railings with
wrought iron railings. A handicap ramp has also been installed inside the
basement door. Their next project is replacing the windows in the basement.
THRIVENT FINANCIAL FOR LUTHERANS has met their
goal of $15 million matched Choice Dollars. Thank you to all in our
congregations who designate our churches for Thrivent Choice Dollars. Visit
Thrivent.com/thriventchoice to learn more about the charitable grant program or
All are welcome to participate in Bible Study each Tuesday morning at 10 AM.
Coffee and refreshments are served.
- MIDWEEK ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS SERMON SERIES
- THEME: “PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD”(Matthew 3:3)
- Dec 3 & 4: “Create A New Way” 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Dec 10 & 11: “Get Out Of The Way” John 3:30
- Dec 17 & 18: “Lead The Way” Luke 1:76b-77
- Dec 24: “Follow The Way” John 14:6
- Dec 25: “An Inconvenient Way To Christmas” Luke 2:1-7
- HUNTER’S & FAMILIES SUPPER AND WORSHIP
- Are You Skipping Church To Go Deer Hunting Opening Weekend?
- Worship God FIRST This Deer Season by attending St. Paul’s
- Hunter’s & Families Supper and Worship Service.
- Date: November 20, 2013
- Time: 6:00pm Supper
- Menu: A Variety of the best Deer Camp recipes in the North
- 7:00pm Worship w/Holy Communion
- Message: “Don’t Lose Your Compass” Gen 25 & 27
Pastor John Wilman, of St. Paul Lutheran Church, speaks at
Deer Park's Memorial Day 2012 observance at Calvary Cemetery. The video is 7
minutes 40 seconds long and includes the entire message.