We held a Town Hall meeting after church Sunday before last. If you were unable to be there, we’ll try to catch you up.
Pastor Ben and Church Council have been “retreating” every six months to spend some extended time in prayer and discussion about where we feel God is leading us. We are thoughtfully examining our strengths and distinctive qualities as a church body in an effort to articulate our identity. Who are we and what are we about? It is through this lens, that we try to set goals and make decisions that are consistent with our identity and values.
Last time we all met, we formulated some six month goals, and at the the last corresponding Town Hall meeting, we were able to both gut check and fine tune them with help from the congregation. (You can refresh yourself on those here.) We’ve made great progress towards those goals – some complete, some almost there – and we are feeling really good about how far we’ve come. However, we did acknowledge that one area we could still improve upon is storytelling.
So Pastor Ben highlighted some of those stories:
- In the past six months average attendance has increased from 209 to 252
- Last fall’s Get Connected dinner was a small gathering of about a dozen people, but from that group we have seen those families and individuals plug into Effort in important ways. (We’ve also been told by church shoppers that we are the friendliest place to visit – score!)
- Hallow Him, Night of Worship, and Christmas Eve were all uniquely successful events, not just in attendance, but in spirit – Holy Spirit. We love being able to provide opportunities for people to come in, feel welcome, and experience the powerful presence of God.
- We’ve hired a great children’s minister and look forward to finding an equally awesome youth minister.
What About the Money?
Next, Aaron gave us a quick financial snapshot. He described our financial situation two years ago as “low tide” – you know, where it’s muddy and hard to move. But today we’re at high tide. Giving is up and staff has been spending conservatively, so we’ve got a nice cushion in our budget. We are giving more to missions, replenishing the Rainy Day Fund, and are ahead of schedule in our Five Year Plan to eliminate our debt . Can you imagine having an extra $10,000 a month that we could be deploying in missions and ministry? Now that’s something to get excited about, and we thank Aaron and Robin for helping us see the goal line.
When we consider what makes Effort unique, we landed on a few key distinctives:
- Location/facilities Effort’s campus and prominent location are an amazing resource that we can use to serve and bless our community. We are uniquely positioned to host larger community events, concerts, meetings, and sports ministries like Upward and Friday night volleyball
- Student Ministries Effort has a wonderful history of robust student ministries, and when we ask the community how we can best serve them, youth ministry rises to the top. Essentially, the more kids we are engaging here, the fewer are getting into trouble out there.
- Missions Effort is at its best, doing its heart work when on mission. We are shining more light on local missions, equipping and empowering people with a holy discontent to bring the kingdom to earth, and we want to tell more of those stories.
- Discipleship Effort Church isn’t just the place we show up on Sunday morning, it is a community of believers who seek to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ. We study the Word of God and share our lives as people of God – warts and all. It is in community that we can equip and be equipped, shepherd and be shepherded, teach and be taught, get and give love and support.
- We are a multi-congregational church. Whereas in the past we may have considered balancing two different congregations with different worship styles a challenge, we are coming to understand it as a blessing and a benefit. We can accommodate more people and meet more needs while still serving and loving the same God. We can have unity without uniformity. If you’ll forgive that the following is a commercial video, I think it’s a fun way to express our multi-congregational identity.
It is with these things in mind that we will be working on our next set of goals and actionable steps. That includes staffing strategically. As you probably know by now, our administrator and our administrative assistant have both moved on. Arnita has found a new opportunity that better meets the needs of her family, and Aaron is supporting his wife in a career move that requires a physical move to Hershey, PA. We are sorry to see them go, but we know that change also brings opportunity – and we trust God’s timing.
In keeping with our identity and focus, we are looking for a full time youth minister to grow our student ministries. Ben presented several possible scenarios for filling the other needs in our staff:
- We can simply replace what we’ve lost – hire a new full time administrator and a part time administrative assistant.
- We could shuffle the funds to allow us to pay our worship minister and children’s minister fully from the operations budget and hire a part time administrator and administrative assistant
- We could look at adding a full time associate pastor that would split time between administrative and pastoral duties
There may be other options, but we welcome input from the congregation as we try to discern how to staff for the future. We also ask you to continue to pray for Effort, for staff and leadership, for direction, grace, blessings -and mercy for those times we miss the mark.
In His service,