The church board convened the meeting properly at 7:30 p.m. Dave, the Board chairman, asked pastor Tony to lead in prayer.
After the prayer, Dave gave clarity about the purpose of this special meeting. “The Board has received several complaints from long-term members about the changes in worship made lately. We’ve asked the pastor to explain these changes so we can address problems.”
Dave continued, “Fred, you know a lot of these folks. You have been around here for a long time. Do you want to share some of the complaints you’ve been hearing?”
Fred was eager to speak and well prepared. “Well, pastor, you know, we all know, our church has been slowly declining for over a decade. If we lose some of these long-term members, I’m afraid we might never recover. You know, many of them volunteer…and they are some of our strongest financial givers.”
Dave interjected, “Fred, what are you hearing from these folks?’
“Well, some of the changes you are making in worship, pastor, you know, some of those songs we are supposed to sing…well…they are modern and our people don’t know them. But what I think put most of the folks over the edge is the change in some of the words, like in the Lord’s Prayer. Words like ‘thee’ and ‘thy.’ It just doesn’t sounds right to say ‘you’ and ‘your,’” Fred responded.
Dave looked at the pastor for a response, “Tony, why are you making these changes?”
Tony paused to organize his response. “As pastor, what I pray about most is something you already mentioned, Fred. Our congregation has been declining in numbers for a long time. It’s not that ‘big is always better,’ but when it comes to reaching lost people in our community—those who don’t know the Lord—our mission effectiveness is…well…the results are…we are not reaching very many.
“I read a Gallup poll of the state of faith in our country from last year—about a year go right now. They asked people, ‘What church do you go to?’ They included all religions: Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, everything. You know what shocked me? Just over 50 percent of the people in our country checked the answer, ‘none.’
“Some of our practices of faith are foreign to these people. I was reading about effective churches—throughout history and around the world. What caught my attention? The best way to reach people for Christ is to speak the ‘heart language’ of those you are trying to reach. Heart language is the language people dream in. Missionaries learn this and practice it.”
“Yeah,” responded Mary, “but we are not missionaries. We are not in Africa or South America.”
Pastor Tony then replied, “No, but aren’t we supposed to share our faith effectively? Isn’t our neighborhood, country, and city a mission field?”
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