This is the item I mentioned in the planning workshop today – the list is cut down greatly, please read the full post at Thom S. Rainer’s site. How do you think we’re doing? Which of these points are we actually doing well? Which are you worried about?
I worked with the church for three weeks. The problems were obvious; the solutions were difficult.
On my last day, the benefactor walked me to my rental car. “What do you think, Thom?” he asked. He could see the uncertainty in my expression, so he clarified. “How long can our church survive?” I paused for a moment, and then offered the bad news. “I believe the church will close its doors in five years.”
I was wrong. The church closed just a few weeks ago. Like many dying churches, it held on to life tenaciously. This church lasted ten years after my terminal diagnosis.
My friend from the church called to tell me the news. I took no pleasure in discovering that not only was my diagnosis correct, I had mostly gotten right all the signs of the impending death of the church. Together my friend and I reviewed the past ten years. I think we were able to piece together a fairly accurate autopsy.
Here are eleven things I learned.
- The church refused to look like the community.
- The church had no community-focused ministries.
- Members became more focused on memorials.
- The percentage of the budget for members’ needs kept increasing.
- There were no evangelistic emphases.
- The members had more and more arguments about what they wanted.
- With few exceptions, pastoral tenure grew shorter and shorter.
- The church rarely prayed together.
- The church had no clarity as to why it existed.
- The members idolized another era.
- The facilities continued to deteriorate.
Though this story is bleak and discouraging, we must learn from such examples. As many as 100,000 churches in America could be dying. Their time is short, perhaps less than ten years.
via Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 11 Things I Learned.
Maundy Thursday of Holy Week: this evening marks the beginning of the Triduum. We reach back to the beginning of Lent to recall the confession we made on Ash Wednesday. This service is clearly different from the regular flow of the Eucharist as we celebrate it weekly, because what we commemorate this evening is different. Tonight we begin a celebration that will not end until the exultant conclusion of the Great Paschal Vigil. Tonight, we hear the words of forgiveness in a new way. It is only with the knowledge of being forgiven that we can engage the rest of the story. We watch and we eat a last supper with Jesus. We hear him offer all of himself to us, even his body and blood. We end the service with the stripping of the chancel. Adornment after adornment leaves the sanctuary as the words of the psalm drift through the air, and we are reminded of what this love will cost Jesus. We leave the service lingering. It is holy time.
At St Nicholas, for the second year in a row we’ve decided to add hand-washing to this traditional service, because of the realities of the Chicago-area flu and cold season. It encourages more people to come forward, who might otherwise not have wanted to expose their feet or for whom it’s very uncomfortable to walk barefoot.
In related news:
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass on Thursday next week by washing the feet of prisoners in a youth detention centre in Rome, the Vatican has said.It says the pontiff is continuing a pre-Easter practice that began when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Normally feet-washing Masses before Easter are held in the Vatican or a Rome basilica.
But Pope Benedict held a feet-washing Mass at the same Casal del Marmo youth detention centre in Rome in 2007.Pope Francis will stage his feet-washing ceremony at Casal del Marmo on the afternoon of 28 March.
The washing of feet on the Thursday before Easter is a Christian tradition dating back to the time of Christ. During the service, the pope washes and kisses the feet of 12 people to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.
via BBC News – Pope Francis to wash feet of prisoners in pre-Easter Mass
Pizza Supper 6 PM
Praise/Worship, Eucharist and Healing 7 PM
St. Nicholas Episcopal Church
1072 Ridge Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
(about 5 minutes south of the junction of I-90 Tollway and Arlington Heights Road)
Presiding: The Very Rev. Tony Begonja & The Rev. Fran Begonja
Area Co-Directors for IL & MO, Region 4, The Int’l Order of St. Luke the Physician
BRING your own candles to be blessed.
LEARN about the Order of Saint Luke
and about HEALING MINISTRY.
RVSP if you will be coming for Pizza.
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