It has been quite a year. In fact, I am going to venture to say it is likely one of the most changed filled years in the history of Village Green. A bit dramatic maybe, but it’s a point you need to consider.
Two things contribute to my saying this, first, our new addition and secondly, our move to two services.
Our addition, at the time of this writing, is at the drywall stage, while hard to believe, we are already into the tenth month of going to two services. Both these have contributed to changing the ministry landscape of the church as well as prompting us to consider what all this means for the future. Before I get to that, let me take a moment for another matter.
Arriving here would never have been possible without the many volunteers who devoted themselves to seeing these projects come to fruition. Though the list is daunting, I am going to attempt to thank the many people who made sacrifices along the way and continue to do so for the sake of the Kingdom!
- First, and maybe the most selfish one on my part, is a big thank-you to our Elders, Brent and Ernest and their wives, Jennifer and Mary. We have navigated some mighty formidable waters in recent months, but your support, wisdom, and love for God has continued to be a solid source of guidance and encouragement.
- To our Ministry Heads who keep us moving in the right direction with excitement, excellence, and energy. I’m overwhelmed by your devotion to people above programs and the difference it makes.
- To our building team, especially Don Shirley for his leadership and the many nights likely tossing and turning due to the burden of overseeing this project. I’m sure the sight of the building today is welcomed relief compared to a few scant months ago. Thanks to Dave Hiebert as well for helping to carry the load and proving indeed that two heads are better than one.
- To the Board of Directors. I have said this in the past, but in many churches, the Board becomes the major adversary and kill switch to progress. I’m thankful to say that is not the case for us. Thank you for sharing the burden of leadership with integrity. A special shout out to our Board Chair Al Vanderlaan whose leadership has been valued beyond words.
- To the staff. Thank you for facing every day with competence and courage. I know that each day is full and yet you meet the challenges head on. It’s a joy to work together for a greater harvest and to watch each of you develop your gifts and leadership for further kingdom benefit.
- To our volunteers. Honestly, what can I say? So much of where we have arrived as a church is directly due to you! Please never assume that you work in isolation or un-appreciation. We may forget sometimes, but each of you holds our deepest respect and thanks. You make it all worthwhile.
I have left this one for last because of its importance,
- To our faithful prayer warriors. You may not always get featured, but without you we are all working on our own steam and not by God’s empowerment. The number of times I have known and felt the prayers of others on my behalf has left me grateful and awestruck. Many of you in this church feel a call to pray and I can’t express how wonderful it is to be part of a church that engages in the reality of Spirit-gifted ministry and calling. We are blessed beyond measure.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As many of you know, the end of April saw our Board and Elders confer during a day and a half Leadership Retreat. A lot of preparation goes into this meeting as well as prayer. Often, there are a number of proposals and directives that are presented that help us determine the next best steps in the years ahead for Village Green.
Due to the dramatic changes in the church over the last year, the need was felt to improve and stabilize what has been built. One of the difficulties we are experiencing as a church is our lack of systems. As we grow, these will become critical in helping us enlist volunteers and leaders, as well as deliver ministry that is effective and inspiring.
Two specific areas of focus for the year were identified.
- Volunteer engagement
- Leadership development
With these in mind, we are working towards building systems that will propel ministry forward as well as engage people to greater levels of ministry satisfaction. Here are some of the initiatives we are working towards.
- What are the “wins” for every area of ministry? For instance, what is our win in Kid’s Connection? Is it just to entertain kids or should it be much more? What about Sunday mornings? Is it just about seeing our friends and singing the songs we like or should we be reaching further?
- What are the expectations for every area of ministry? As a volunteer, would you not want to know what the expectations are? What if these were clearly laid out and whenever you were asked to volunteer you had a clear idea what it entailed?
- What training is available for every area of ministry? We have already started to invest in new training for a number of areas. Because many of our volunteers invest in us, we want to make sure we invest in you too.
Apart from the systems being developed for our volunteers, we are also looking to building regular onramps for identifying and empowering new leadership. I personally see this as an outworking of a comprehensive volunteer system that engages new leaders in a way that is organic and natural.
Some of our new systems have already been developed and approved by the Leadership with key elements being introduced very soon. These will help build expectations and consistency in what we do and is important for stabilizing growth.
Is There More?
Yes. It’s not just about building a proficiently great church; it’s also about building a proficiently great church. Yes, you read that right. Here’s what I’m trying to say.
As much as we are looking to make this a great environment to volunteer and develop your leadership gifts, it’s also about the Gospel and building the kingdom of God. With that in mind, there is something else we decided as we look ahead as a church.
The church world is going through an upheaval. Even committed, long time members are statistically not attending church as often or as regularly as before. This is a trend that is troublesome but does not appear to be abating anytime soon. Here at Village Green there is about a third of the congregation that is away on any given Sunday that considers this their church home.
For those of us in leadership it poses some interesting challenges. In light of these realities there is a proposal.
When it comes to church, there is technically two ways to attend.
- Physically (Actually show up on a Sunday morning)
- Virtually (Attend or listen to a service online)
As much as it may bother us the new reality is that more and more people are engaging the church online, rather than real time. It’s a statistic that is showing up in multiple surveys and the trend is too prominent to ignore. Not being ones to ignore reality, we feel the next step for the church is vital. Here it is:
Move towards developing an online church community.
I feel very strongly that ignoring this trend could prove fatal for many churches. I do not want to be one of them. As much as it may be a trend that is troublesome, it is also a great opportunity to reach many more people.
Don’t get me wrong. The physical church will always exist, but the ones who will make real kingdom impact will be those who have both an inspiring physical presence, coupled with a complimentary engaging virtual presence.
I know that is somewhat cryptic right now, and the details are yet to be fully exploited, but it’s a road we need to venture down and do so boldly and faithfully. Yes, it will take people and resources, all worthwhile things do, but its one that will have immeasurable payoffs if done properly.
What Can You Do?
In light of this report, let me suggest a number of ways you can personally help.
- Pray, yes an obvious one, but too important to ignore. Also, please ask yourself this. Am I praying to really see our church make a difference, or am I praying because it’s on this list?
- Build some volunteer muscle. If you’re already sacrificing yourself for the sake of Jesus, please ignore this. But if you’re sitting on the sidelines watching grass grow and you want to feel what it’s like to be a part in changing the world then you know what you gotta do!
- If you’ve got a heart, mind, leg, arm, toe, or any part of you that is remotely gifted in things technological then consider lending those parts in helping to create the technological tools for bringing some of our future dreams to fruition.
- Please maintain faithfulness, both in attendance and giving. It’s so important to have consistency in these matters and I urge you to continue to be vitally connected to what is happening here.
- Be excited about the future. For some of you it is not the church you maybe grew up with but we believe God is writing a new and bigger story for Village Green.
- Tell others. I know this is often the hardest part of being a believer, but it’s something that Jesus encouraged us to do. If you are excited about what’s happening here, tell others and maybe invite them out some time. If there is one thing that is consistently praised about our church is the people.
I hope this report has helped to give you some insights into what you can expect in the coming months. And as always, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, as we fulfill His mission for us to Love God, love others, and change the world!
Blessings for 2015;
Lead Pastor: Village Green Community Church