Alongside our September “View from the Ridge” annual meetings, our elder board included a ten-question survey to those in attendance. We did this to attempt to assess how our ministry is perceived by ministry partners and to evaluate our progress and headway with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had 51 individuals complete our survey, and I want to begin by saying “thank you.” Our elder board and staff are listening to these evaluations and comments. Alongside of the actual survey results, I am going to forward some pastoral observations and comments.
First, it appears our worship services and our preaching are among our strengths. These received (in general) a higher rating than our student and/or children’s ministries. However, our student and children’s ministries were also rated as strengths. We believe it is vital to invest in families so the generations to come may know the treasures of the gospel. Our student and children’s ministries will only be as strong as our workers and volunteers. Further, I remind you to pray earnestly for our search team as they recommend a candidate for Director of Student Ministries to our elder board.
Second, people’s perception of the appearance and comfort of our Celebration Center is notably lower than the marks given above. This says something about our values and willingness to live with less than ideal appearance and comfort. We value the utility and the function of our Celebration Center over its appearance and comfort. However, it is in the Celebration Center that we meet regularly with God in our corporate worship services. How beautiful or comfortable our Celebration Center is matters, because God matters, and because here is a place (certainly not the only place) we invite our neighbors to encounter God. I plan on addressing with church leadership what additional steps can be taken in this important area of church life.
Third, the ratings given to service projects and cultivating a lifestyle of inviting neighbors to find a home in Christ is also comparatively low. We face an inward focus that our people sense needs to be called toward an outward focus. I believe there is work to be done in cultivating ownership of our mission and values, also developing ministry that satisfies this thirst. It is for this very purpose that we introduced the “Live It Out” initiative earlier in 2016, and the benefits of this initiative are still to be realized. I do want to commend those individuals who have made gift intentions to Live It Out and those small groups that are praying about service projects toward and in our community. Finally, I am introducing a study on the topic of outreach toward elders and staff this ministry year. I trust this will have practical benefit toward the end needed.