Statistics are helpful tools. They show us trends, we learn from them, they help us plan. They also show us the realities in which we live.
For the church, the statistics are grim.
Aging and rapidly declining membership, no new families, dwindling finances in the face of mounting building maintenance costs.
Last night at our monthly Presbytery meeting we began a discussion on how brave we are as a court of the United Church of Canada to enforce and act with the authority we have in the organization of the churches which serve within our bounds.
The discussion was lively, it was fruitful, it was also the beginning.
Many of our churches are trying to figure out how they are going to get out of the hole in which they are now finding themselves, and they are beginning to ask for help and direction from the presbytery and the conference.
How shall we respond?
It is my hope we respond honestly, respectfully and pastorally, in helping them discern the realities of the church and the communities in which they find themselves to help them make the very difficult decisions which face them in the very near future. Decisions we hope will help invigorate their ministries in new and exciting ways.
There are already a number of different conversations being initiated around our presbytery, and this will prove, without a doubt, to be an exciting, stressful, sometime painful, yet hopefully joyful, Spirit led time for all of our churches.
We cannot wait much longer. We must act in some way. Choosing not to act is still an act.
This truly is a time, I believe, where we can fail or flourish. We can only fail if we choose not to engage in conversation and open ourselves to the movement of the Holy Spirit within our churches and communities.
Prayers are more than welcome and appreciated.