Imagine that a family is remodeling their kitchen, and they all have different ideas of what it should look like. Dad wants a modern kitchen for cooking extravagant meals. Mom wants a simple space designed for entertaining a few close friends, or quiet mornings enjoying coffee with a view of the backyard.
The youngest child wants to turn the kitchen into a dessert buffet complete with a donut machine, the middle child likes it just the way it is, and the oldest child wants to get rid of the kitchen and eat out all the time. If they start making plans for the new kitchen right away, it will end up being a disaster that no one is happy with.
This family is kind of like our Fairview family. Except instead of a kitchen, we have different ideas about what our church should be like.
This is why we are engaging in the New Beginnings process at Fairview. This 4-5 month process invites everyone at Fairview to be part of deciding our future.
New Beginnings started in January with a congregational gathering. That evening was led by Michael Whitman from The Hope Partnership. Michael invited us to reflect on our past and present as we identified important values, strengths, and assets of our church.
The difference between the New Beginnings program and past plans, reports, and consultants is the final result. The final product of New Beginnings is not a plan or a series of recommendations, but a commitment to a specific direction based on the discernment of the congregation and Session.
Like the family above, we can’t make specific plans for our future before we commit to a direction. New Beginnings will help us do that. At the end of New Beginnings, the Session will act on a recommendation to make what the program calls “a bold decision” about our future. Here are some examples of decisions other New Beginnings congregations have made:
Getting Back to Basics: A congregation with capable people and sufficient resources was able to reconsider what God was calling them to do. After intentional reflection, and the development of a strong vision for the future, they moved from a church that focused primarily on themselves to one focused on serving their community.
Finding a New Home: A small congregation with a large building sold their facility and relocated. New Beginnings helped them see how their savings on monthly building expenses would allow them to call a full-time pastor. The right-sized congregation is growing now, with a passion for ministry in the community.
Starting Over: A congregation averaged 30 in worship every other Sunday. After New Beginnings helped them develop a new vision for ministry, they decided to “restart” the church. Officers agreed to resign, and the church was closed. It reopened a month later with a new name. Today, more than 200 worship there each Sunday.
Embracing New Neighbors: A congregation was located in a community whose racial/ethnic demographics had changed radically. With the help of New Beginnings, the congregation decided to launch a new ministry that was appropriate for the culture of those living in the neighborhood. In an act of faithfulness, they shared both their facility and their endowed funds. As a result of their gifts, average worship attendance went from 50 to more than 300 each weekend.
It is also an option for a congregation going through this process to admit that they do not want to change enough to expect new growth or new life. In that case, the church chooses to remain largely the same. They seek out how to use their remaining resources to remain faithful as long as possible, and begin to talk about the legacy they wish to leave behind.
All of these options, and many more, are open to Fairview. Whatever we decide, we will then commit to fully evaluating all areas of the church (ministries, worship, staff, building) to support our new direction.
Continue to pray and participate in New Beginnings! Your presence, faith, and openness to God’s Spirit at work among us in this time are all important.