By The Rev. Dr. Rick Young, TPF’s President
There’s so much to be excited about as we quickly move into 2024. Right now, I believe that some of the perceived shortcomings of the church could truly turn out to be our greatest strengths. I recently had both the opportunity and privilege of preaching for a congregation I served 35 years ago. When I left that congregation for another call, the church was 250 members strong with an average attendance of 135 each Sunday. Today, that congregation numbers 60 with an average worship attendance of 28 people. Unfortunately, this story is common across all denominations, and many churches long for the “good old days” in a while coping with waves of anxiety and distress.
But you know what? We should all remain hopeful! Because what I saw instead, was a strong group of people dedicated to ministry and their mission to serve the community in which they live. They have a thriving community garden which feeds the neighborhood, they offer daycare to lower income families at a very reduced cost, they sponsor a community blood drive, and they have weekly worship services and Bible studies, which are mostly led by dedicated church members. Truly, this congregation is thriving while doing the work of God.
This is not a unique situation, as I have seen it repeated throughout the country. While some believe the pandemic caused this current chaos, I believe it simply accelerated the arrival of the inevitable. Longing for the past does us and God no favors, as we have been taught throughout scripture and history.
Today is a new and different day! It is time to turn away from the negative and start the celebration as we thank God for the “little” ministries and missions.
I am thankful that I have blessing of serving “little” ministries, as well as the opportunities to partner with them in unique ways.