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You may have heard that our Session has engaged the services of a professional church consulting company to take an unbiased look at the current state of our church. In performing their work, they looked at everything — from our vision, mission and ministry endeavors, our finances, Christian education programs, membership and participation trends, the demographics of our surrounding neighborhood, our buildings and grounds, our communications process, our web presence… well, you get the picture. And they also met with our pastoral staff and our church staff. They then prepared a 70-page report of their findings. But, here’s the key thing we need to remember… their report does not tell us what to do. That’s for us to decide.

This is a perfect time for Pines to be looking at itself. We’ll soon have a new Senior Pastor and this information will be enormously helpful as we contemplate why we exist and what vision we have for our future, as well as our next season of mission and ministry.

As with every Christian congregation, Pines has a calling from God: We are to develop faithful and effective ministry that shares the Good News, especially God’s unconditional love and desire to be in relationship with a hurting world. But, while the message of God’s love remains constant, ministry today doesn’t look like First-century ministry. In fact, today’s ministry doesn’t look like ministry did even a decade ago!

Did you know that the average lifecycle of a Christian congregation is 60-80 years? Pines has been in existence for 56 years now and, fortunately for us, the report shows Pines is still pretty much at the top of its game. We have many, many strengths. But, yes, we all know we have challenges too. Successfully meeting those challenges will allow us to remain alive and thriving for decades to come.

Can we navigate these challenges and change? We say “YES!” Most of us are pretty adept at navigating change. We use email and text messages rather than mailing letters to each other. We carry smart phones rather than those plain old flip-phones. We shop online and we download movies right off the internet. And it’ll be the same with whatever changes might need to be made in the way we do ministry and mission at Pines.

So, what’s next? Well, the 70-page report is finished and we want everyone in the congregation to have a copy so you know exactly what it says. But, rather than just handing the report out with no explanation, we’ll hear more about the research in church on January 8th. At those services, we’ll take a few minutes and explain in greater detail about the report to lay the foundation for productive discourse.

But wait, there’s more! After that, during January we’ll be hosting small group meetings in various members’ homes. At the end of the first session we’ll give you your very own personal copy of the report to take home and read at your leisure. We want the entire congregation to participate, so there will be meetings throughout the week and at various times as well. Each group will meet once a week for four weeks. At those small group meetings we’ll be digging deeper into the report. More important, though, we’ll be brainstorming ideas about God’s vision for Pines and how we can enhance our ministry and mission based on ideas that come right out of those small group meetings.  SO, YOUR INPUT REALLY MATTERS!  Sign-ups for small groups began on November 20th.  

We hope you are excited about this bold leadership step our Session has taken. As a congregation, we can take comfort in knowing the Holy Spirit is already out in front of us, inspiring our vision and beckoning us to join him in exciting mission and ministry in the coming years.