The Church I Pastor: Changes

Dsc_0035I'm starting a series of posts about the church I pastor.  We are entering a transition period and I thought it might be helpful to talk about what we are doing and why in the hope that it will encourage us all to be better church leaders or members.

During January and February I preached a series of sermons to prod our people to think about our church direction, what we do well and what we don't.  Then at the end of February I preached two sermons on "A 2 Year Plan."  I chose 2 years because it's longer than one, and one passes by very quick.  My 2 year plan included five points.  I've tweaked one of those, but the general direction the point stayed the same.  Here are the five changes in a more final form.  All have been adopted by the church in a vote a couple of weeks ago except #3, which we are researching first before something more official. 

1. Documents: We are rewriting our constitution by adding a plurality of elders and a biblical view of deacons.  Rather than adding those things to our current constitution we are rewriting the whole thing because other aspects must be changed.  We will also probably change our doctrinal statement and our church covenant.  All documents are on the table at this point.

2. Name: Our name is Calvary Baptist Church, but that is going to change.  We are choosing a new name.  "Baptist" stereotypes are common in Northern Illinois, and several of our church members have found resistance from friends when invited to Calvary.  I explained to the church that we need to put as little in the way of people knowing Christ as possible.  I also explained that we are in no way ashamed to be Baptist, but that we want to be known for the gospel first and foremost.

3. Property: We own property, a church building, and a parsonage.  It's an understatement to say they aren't serving us well for a variety of reasons.  So we have started researching the possibility of selling the property and using the resources to kick-start us in our new direction.

4. Networking: As a Southern Baptist church we have connections with state and local associations.  But as a church looking for broader association (beyond denominational links) we are eager to connect with churches and networks who are founded upon the gospel and the mission.  So we are pursuing connections with other networks, or will form some of our own.

5. Evangelism: While there are several new public "square" ministries we are working on, a key one is a new series of talks I'm hoping to begin in our county.  Woodstock is in the center of McHenry County here in the distant Chicago suburbs.  We are 9-12 miles from six main cities in our county, and they are arranged in a somewhat hexagonal shape around us.  Since we are already reaching folks in the surrounding cities in our county we have changed from thinking of ourselves as merely a Woodstock church to a McHenry County church.  I haven't found helpful terminology out there to describe our approach.  In the cities you can be a church for the city though located in one area, but here it's not that simple.  Lord-willing, we will start new churches/campuses in these other county cities in the years to come.

I said all that to say that I'm bolstering this county/region approach with an evangelistic effort.  It will be an evangelistic circuit of talks by me, for lack of a better description.  It's similar to a monthly Theology Pub, but it will probably be quarterly, more directly evangelistic, and in a variety of locations in our county.  I have more to say about this in a future post.

Those are the five points that describe a new vision and approach for our church.  Essentially I'm leading my church to reform and reposition itself as a church restart.  May God show His power and love through us to the world.

Future posts will include more stuff on evangelism, discipleship, church leadership, and my tweaks to Joe Thorn's "The Table, the Pulpit and the Square."  After he initially founded the paradigm I sat down with him and added my thoughts and asked some questions.  He was gracious enough to let me barge in on his very good idea, but I think together we made it better.  I'll share my version that includes a few tweaks, which I call "The Missional Triad," very soon.  I started preaching through it last Sunday.