What helps, what gives the people confidence and assurance that they can change, is that they sense [the pastor’s] own willingness to change, to be flexible.
Kennon L. Callahan
A New Beginning for Pastors and Congregations, page 83
If you want to read a nuts-and-bolts vision of how to create a loving and missional spirit within a congregation, Callahan provides great counsel through his use of personal experiences, of common sense, and of biblical references. This text is intended to be read every three years so pastors and church leaders may continue to grow into their faith. Callahan provides reading that is relevant for a pastor or church leader in any stage of his/her faith development.
This congregation has changed quite a bit from January 23, 2014 when I delivered my first sermon. The work of the Holy Spirit is obvious to me; so many of you are relating your personal experiences that clearly indicate how God is shaping your lives. Worship is alive in Word and Sacrament. Our number of ministries – both local and beyond – is growing because our commitment to being God’s hands and feet in the world is growing, too. Holy Week this year brought in members, long time visitors, and strangers off the street; attendance numbers were astounding. Also, we have adopted a comprehensive stewardship plan that keeps resources growing for future in-house uses all the while giving us the opportunity to more fully demonstrate our trust in God as we gradually increase our tithe to our Synod. We are now a handicapped-accessible building. All this – this loving expression of faith in God – happens every day here as little by little our memories of Hurricane Matthew and its fallout fade.
At least, that is my perspective. Callahan notes that one person’s view of change can be that of a developing faith, while with someone else the change can be perceived as scary or even as unnecessary. It is common for some church folks to share, “Things are moving along quite nicely, don’t you think?” while they may present the conflicting response, “Things are changing too fast and I cannot adjust.”
What is your response? Are you satisfied with the spiritual growth of this congregation over the last three years? Does the church council act in ways that are accurate representations of what you expect from your church leadership? In your observation, am I growing spiritually? I am asking you to share your thoughts about congregational, leadership, and pastoral growth.
Throughout the summer please take the opportunity to write down your thoughts and ideas about worship and the life of this congregation. Your comments will be directed to the proper council member or will remain with me. Expect a return contact soon; the council and I stand ready to hear your ideas about expanding spiritual growth and about improving leadership development. Why? Because in all we say and do as a congregation, we do so to the Glory of God.
To God be the Glory for all God has done,