Rest assured. The light at the end of the tunnel IS NOT a train! At least, that is the case as we look to the future at St. James. After decades of operating under the constraint of debt, St. James is less than 30 months away from being free of our real estate debt. The last time that our congregation was in this position was before 1988.
I am grateful for both the wisdom of St. James leaders and the generosity of those who call St. James their church home. Together we have brought the debt from $1.3 million in 2009 to less than $300,000 today. This is a remarkable achievement that opens up tremendous possibilities for our future. There is the light of a new day of mission at the end of this long tunnel.
Anticipating the availability of additional resources to invest in ministry, I am leading two mission exploration teams to help with our planning. The first, whose work is already underway, seeks to explore our neighborhood. We need to go into the community to listen to social agencies, police/fire/emergency services, schools, and other places to learn about those who live in about a five mile radius around St. James. What are their needs? What resources do we already have or could we provide? How might we share the good news of God’s love with them?
The second exploration team involves youth ministry. At our last Council meeting, I formed a Youth Vision 20/20 Team. This group will explore what is working in youth ministry both here and outside our congregation. We will identify resources needed to grow ministry to and with our youth in concert with St. James overall vision for ministry. Many of the same questions above will be asked here as well. How might we share the good news of God’s love in new and innovative ways with our youth?
Both these groups will be working over the course of the next year to uncover needs and resources. We will adopt a beginner’s heart and mind in our work as we open ourselves beyond preconceived notions. Instead of seeking quick solutions we will listen deeply. We will take our time to do a thorough job of understanding and then imagining what the future will be in these critical mission areas.
Around the time we get to putting together strategies, we will have additional resources available to do ministry. With our debt retired, we will have sufficient dollars available for the kind of staffing that will be able to make a difference. Since we have taken the time to think through what kind of leadership we need in these areas, we will have a better chance of success.
As I send this week’s mission moment out, I am asking for three things. First, if you are interested in serving on either ministry exploration team, we could use your help. Sign up using the link below. Second, pray for the work of exploration in both areas that it might be open to where the Spirit is leading us to go. Third, continue your generous giving that brings us ever closer to a brighter future.
As we head toward the year 2020, it is good for us to be starting to think seriously about vision and mission. Some questions pop into my mind. What will things look like after we leave the tunnel? What new landscapes will there be for us to explore? What new faces will be turned into new friends? Where will the Spirit lead us? How will we build and deepen those loving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbor? These are all very exciting things for us to ponder together.
As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship,
In Christ’s Light,