|There is no old man God,|
with a long beard living up in the sky.
I have found my reading to be inspirational and exciting with learning new ideas or being affirmed in the ideas and path that I am already travelling along. I am reminded of my ministry training in which me and my fellow students were pushed and pulled every day with new-to-us theology, new understanding of leadership and learning styles and new ideas and concepts for use in worship and encouraging spiritual connections.
As it turns out, the topic of the book I chose last week was congregational growth. It is my second book, on this reading adventure, by Clair Woodbury. He co-wrote this book, Wings Like Eagles: How to be a Thriving Congregation in the 21st Century, with Joyce Madsen. For Symons Valley United, the congregation which I serve, growth of our congregation is a key component to our presence in North Calgary. The congregation will be celebrating its 35th anniversary this year but has been in its present location for only eight years. The wider church requested that the congregation make the move as the city began developing new communities in the north. The congregation agreed to move and ended up building a church big enough to accommodate the new communities for a few years and incorporated plans into their building project that would allow for the anticipated growth in their faith communities. With thousands of new families moving into the surrounding area, growth seemed inevitable. But, like many things in life, things did not progress as planned.
What's the expression?
We are now, in the past year and half, seeing the newcomers that were anticipated so long ago. We have visitors every week. People are returning after their first Sunday and they are staying. There is an energetic feeling in the building on Sundays. The ministry that is happening within these doors is full of vitality and God's love. The leadership team of the church, which includes many, many fabulous lay leaders beyond myself and the handful of staff, have worked diligently and faithfully to empowering others in the congregation to be engaged and involved in all aspects of church life--whether they are old-timers or newcomers. Ministries have been expanding and new ideas are being welcomed.
As I read Clair and Joyce's book, I found myself nodding quite a bit and checking things off. Yep, we do that. Yep, the leadership is structured like that. And there were suggestions and ideas that caused me to pause. To wonder if it would benefit SVUC to do this or to do that. One thing that I found affirming as I made my way through Clair and Joyce's words of wisdom and their suggestions around creating strong and healthy congregations, is that the leadership of Symons Valley is clearly committed to this journey of growing a thriving, Christ-centred and faith-filled congregation amongst the new communities of North Calgary. Thanks be to God.