What a busy couple of weeks it’s been! After a very positive Trustees (Elders & Leaders) retreat day at Ascot Priory on Saturday 6th May, I spent much of the next week looking at finances with Steph and (our Treasurer) Rob, after which I had a weekend which included a lot of cycling… and a lot of thinking and praying through all that had been pored over, prayed over and reflected on.
This week has been a week of meetings – with the Trustees team on Monday night, our staff team on Thursday morning, some of our key children and youth leaders on Thursday evening, the church members on Thursday night… and a whole lot more with various people in-between.
Today (Friday) I find myself a bit tired, to be sure, but fully convinced that all the meetings, prayers and pondering (and the cycling!) were not in vain.
At Thursday night’s Church Meeting, we faced up to some stark realities about our finances and talked through what I believe is a compelling vision for the future, in which we continue growing not only numerically but spiritually and doing so on the solid foundations of faith and faith lived out.
To see the slides we looked at together at the Church Meeting, please click here.
This is a vision in which we continue to reach wide to people who don’t know God and in which we help disciple them – first being disciples ourselves. It’s a vision in which we go deeper with all our congregations, from Messy Church and Lunch Club through to Sunday morning and Songs of Praise.
In this vision we are one church of many congregations, gradually becoming a church that is busy and bustling with church-based activities, fully funded by our own giving. A church that is financially “living with our giving” and built high and wide on deep foundations of faith rather than being shored up by the shifting sands of lettings income.
It’s a church that continues to be a blend of committed volunteers and staff, which works together and works flexibly with the common goal of doing our part as Jesus builds his mighty church.
We have had a wake-up call – a painful financial reminder (in the loss of a large and lucrative letting which we had been banking on) that we have been building a large and wide-reaching church that has been over-reliant on “conference centre” income.
Instead of becoming a busier, more lucrative conference centre, our vision is that we will become a busier, more committed church.
Challenging words? Challenging times. Been saving for a rainy day? It’s raining!
I’m immensely grateful for the time and attention of all the people who have given their time and energy to the meetings we have had these past few weeks, and for those who have long since been thinking and praying about all of this. I’m also immensely grateful (and to be honest, as a relatively-new Team Leader of EBC, very relieved) at the positive, steely response from the Leadership Team and the church meeting in facing up to facts this week.
It goes without saying that there is much to be done to get us from “here” to “there” and it will not be without challenges, frustrations and spiritual resistance. There will be storms ahead, no doubt, but I believe we can take solace and strength from Jesus’s words below in which he describes the difference between true and false disciples.
Let’s encourage and spur each other on as we seek to build our “house” on the solid rock of faith.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Matthew 7: 24 – 27 (NIV)