Now that I have your attention, I don't know if I really want to write about what a church is to do. What do you think about that? I could go off on how much I am looking forward to being on the Empire Builder two weeks from today (which just happens to be Penny and my 25th wedding anniversary. How did she put up with me for so many years. The most amazing thing about it is that it doesn't seem like that long. It has gone so quickly. Would I marry her again? In a heartbeat. She is the most wondrous woman that I know. I love her deeply. And would love to sit in Elam's Silverfrost Rootbeer in Decatur and ask her to marry me all over again.) Yes, I am excited about our train trip. More about that another time.
So what is a church to do? Staff for growth. Most churches don't think about that. They look at what they have and think that they are just fine. After all, finances are always tight, and there is no way to expand the staff in any direction. When the church finally starts to grow, then after everything is in place, after the finances even out, then they begin to think about staffing.
Those of you who have children, let me ask you, were you financially ready to have children when they came along? Some couples think that they will wait till they are able to afford children before they start having them. But is anyone really ready financially? Is any really ready emotionally or mentally? The answer would be - no. The fact is that children come along and you figure out how to be a parent and how to afford all that it takes to help that child grow into an adult that will leave the nest when the time is right (and that could be another whole blog!).
So it is in the church. Staffing for growth means that you bring staff on in a way that plans for growth - even before it happens. You pray about it. You seek the Lord's guidance. You look at it from your worldly views and then - you take the leap. You bring in the new staff. You hire the person you think is meant for the ministry of the congregation and you move forward. Will it always work? No. There are times when it fails miserably. Does that mean that you were wrong? No. You do what you think is best and move on.
But there are times when it just clicks, when the Holy Spirit brings the right person to the right church and opens up the right hearts and lives and BAM! It is kicked up a notch (to quote a famous chef). And things begin to boom. The pews are full. The coffers are overflowing. And growth takes place.
Why? Not because of anything we have done but because of everything the Spirit has done. He works. He moves. He calls. He gathers. He enlightens. He builds up. He makes the church to grow.
What do we do? Staff for growth. Move forward not backward. Think about it. Pray about it. And see what happens in your church. (And for those of you who are members of St. Paul's, Troy, let's see what happens here. God is moving. The Spirit is active and vital. And we are facing a time of great potential. How will we face it? Only God truly knows.)