So much of the excitement leading up to Spring is an anticipation of the emergence of new buds, fresh green grass, and life reasserting itself. It’s lovely to leave the house without much more than a light jacket, or just a sweater. As the weather warms up, people find time to go back outside more often, and for longer. Taking a walk, working in the yard, or having a sit-down under a blossoming tree are some of the best ways to celebrate the beauty of the season.
I don’t know about you, but it’s encouraging to me that we live in an area where the changes of the seasons can offer us new chances to appreciate surprising opportunities for activity, or to enjoy annual traditions.
Much like the cycles of seasons, churches have cycles of activity, and life. They have moments of intense growth, and ministry at their founding, then throughout their history, periods of decline, periods of boom, and crisis, followed by lengthy periods of maintenance where little seems to happen. What happens along the way depends as much on the people of any congregation as it does on the times in which they live, as well as the guidance of the Lord along the way. Whether a church thrives or not seems to at least be partially due to the people’s willingness to stay close to God, and to one another despite some discouraging events in their collective history. The willingness to embrace change can also help to pull a congregation back from an uncertain future.
We find ourselves at a new season of life in our church. We have known a long spell of “keeping the lights on” that have amounted to maintaining the status quo, without much growth numerically, or spiritually. How much longer things can continue along this path depends on finances, and people’s investment of themselves, and their reserves of hope.
My feeling is we would be better served choosing the better path toward changing some of the ways we express the ministry of this congregation. If we focus our attention outward rather than inward, we will see the needs around us in our community, and with help, find ways to meet those needs in ways that we can accomplish given our gifts, talents, and resources.
In addition to an outward focus, we need to care for the needs of our existing members, and friends. We must not neglect the fact that many are in their later years with all the possible health issues, and other concerns that need attention. Accomplishing this dual focus would be daunting if it weren’t for our dependence on God’s help, and our interdependence on each other. I am confident that we are up to the challenge. This confidence is one of the main reasons why I chose to accept the call to pastor here.
White Hall Baptist has a unique willingness and ability to welcome people of different walks of life. We may be a small country church, but there is an innate reliance on God’s love that is evident to anyone who comes here. My intent is to harness that openness, and caring to find outlets into the world around us, and among us. What form our ministry takes will need to be simple at first, and as we grow in our experience, we can move forward together into unexplored areas. Who knows what God will reveal to us when we offer ourselves to His service? I’m excited to see what comes next!
Please join us as we continue to explore what God has in store for us!
With love in Christ,
Rev. John McCarty
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