Friday, February 27, 2015


Our church made a big decision last Sunday. In case you missed the special congregational meeting, we agreed to partner with Yellow Brick Road Child Care Center in expanding our building and joint ministry. Understand, this vote was simply formal approval to send in a loan application. We still must a) secure a 10% down payment, and b) receive approval on the loan application. So if you’ve yet to send back your pledge or donation for the down payment, please do so and soon! (Click here for printable pledge card)

We’ve had good responses so far. We’ll still need thousands more in commitments, though, from members and friends. If you can give now, that would be great. If you’d rather pledge a certain amount over the coming months or years, that’s great too! Just let us know. As you might expect, we have several options for what’s possible beyond construction of new space. Whether, say, we can lay new carpet or paint the building this year will depend on the support we receive.

But the project’s main elements were approved in that vote- more child care space for poor kids, long-term YBR relationship, enhanced church ministry. So it’s an important time for Plymouth Creek that deserves our full attention. Essentially, we’re betting on our future in this location, and all that entails. We’re betting that the relationships we’ve built will endure and strengthen. We’re betting that those ideas about Jesus that inspire us now will evolve dynamically and remain relevant. We’re betting that we’ll form new relationships with people we don’t yet know, and whose presence will change us. Even that we’ll more actively extend Christian hospitality so as to grow for decades to come.

About that last point, we should be excited and thoughtful. As stewards of Christ’s mission to welcome the world, every church ought care about growth. Not to the exclusion of everything else, not so obsessively you neglect loving your enemy and helping the poor. Some churches- especially in our suburb- do exactly that and it makes me sick. There’s a temptation to turn “Big Church” into an idol. We’ve been looked down on for that reason, by others, and sometimes, sadly, ourselves. But through it all, I’m convinced we’ve shown that the true power of God is the power of love, which is about intimacy, smallness, the transformation of knowing and being known. Therefore, we’ve raised an incredible witness to Christ’s undying love, grand if not numerically triumphant. I’m glad for that. It shows our community what better ways are possible. They’re lucky we’re still around!

That said, we could face a numbers problem eventually. We’re a small church. We’re also not, ahem, a young church. One of you, during Sunday’s meeting, wisely counseled us to think about that, how who we have now to support our budget may not be around for the full term of this new loan. In some ways, that’s true for every church, whatever their demographics. Families move. Workers transfer. People get angry, or distracted, and leave. That’s how all churches work, so all churches must consider how they’ll grow, i.e. how they’ll include “others” into “ourselves.” It’s the pastor’s job. It’s the members’ job. It’s not easy, but it’s critical.

So, ultimately, that’s what we’re betting on: Plymouth Creek’s ongoing ability to grow and attract new folk. I believe in your ability to do that, because you’ve welcomed me. But it’ll be tough, particularly if we’re going to push those age trend lines younger. But consider this. Helping high-quality, low-cost child care expand in our neighborhood helps us grow, because it shows young families that we care about their needs. Offering seventeen child care slots to poor kids on scholarships helps us grow, because now we’re the neighborhood champion for fighting poverty. In other words, this project can be as much about attracting people to our mission as to our building. Because it changes our story, deepens it, brightens it, gives us more to tell.

But for that to work, we’ll have to tell that story…LOUDER!...then invite others to help write new, unexpected chapters. (And we’ll have to get down payment money!) Can we do it? I bet we can.

Grace and Peace,
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