I have been asked why I came to Whittier Presbyterian, a once large congregation that has now shrunk in size. The honesty of the people who interviewed me is what convinced me. This is a congregation that had gone through the New Beginnings process and made some intentional choices about their future. Now, they asked for someone who could help them implement those difficult decisions.
We live in a time that is challenging for the Church. The percentage of the population that considers themselves Christians has declined while the percentage listing themselves as having no religious preference grows. Many people have a view of Christians shaped by the hate-filled groups that fill the media. The number and average size of congregations is shrinking. This is one of those periods, they have happened before in history and will probably happen again, when God is pruning the Church. When comfort comes before discipleship, when belief becomes easier than transforming lives, God does something to shake up the Church.
But this kind of challenging time is difficult for those who face the changes. It is hard on clergy, it is hard on members, and it is hard on everyone. I have watched congregations whither because they would not or could not accept that the context the Church lives in is changing. I consider it a gift to be asked to work with a group that is trying to face the change (which is not the same as liking it). How could I say no to this adventure?
Pray for the Church and each other as we follow God into this new future.