I'm very excited that our church is experiencing growing pains. It has had a very difficult previous ten years. However, I believe that God has taken us off the shelf, dusted us off, and is now beginning to use us!
Some of the difficulties in re-growing a nearly dead church is organizational problems. Since I arrived here, none of our committees have truly functioned as committees. People have seen a need and they just take care of it. In some ways, that isn't too bad. A problem comes when we start to have more people and everyone just starts doing what they want.
This summer, we completely re-vamped our committees and they now have an expectation that they are to meet and to function for the good of the church. So far, so good! I'm pleased with the way people are "owning" the responsibility of making the church run.
After two years, we now have "in place" Sunday School classes and teachers for all ages of people. We have devoted nursery workers, and teachers for toddlers through Youth. We have a new guy who is committed to our youth and have seen many kids brought into the church for the very first time in the past several weeks. In fact, 6 of them have been saved and four should be baptized this next Sunday!
One real problem is space. We have used one of our empty Sunday School classrooms for our Food Pantry Ministry. One was used for storage. One is needed for a Youth Office. We have plans to have an additional 2-3 new classes beginning after the first of the year. We don't have the space for it. We can empty out the one room that was used for storage- no problem. One class will need to meet in the fellowship hall. If there is a third class, they can meet in the sanctuary.
At our Annual Church Thanksgiving dinner, we all but packed out our fellowship hall. It only seats about 100 people and then not too comfortably. If God continues to work in our church as He's been doing lately, we won't have room for everyone next year to be seated in the fellowship hall!
One real problem that I want to avoid is having new people slip through the cracks. While we are having lots of people visit and join, our goal is to not just grow our church in numbers. The Great Commission says to "go and make disciples" not just members or attenders. I want to make sure that we have the resources in place to take care of our new people and not let them out the "back door". This concerns me more than anything about our church growth.
I am excited at the prospect of our church growing. I think the future holds a building program for us to increase the number of classrooms and for a larger room that can function as a fellowship hall and activity center. I'd love to see us change our current fellowship hall into our nursery because of the proximity to the sanctuary. I'd love to see a new suite of offices to handle current and future staffing needs.
I am very happy with the way things are going! God is doing amazing things here at Immanuel Southern Baptist Church! If you are in town, come join us!