On the Journey with your Mid-Atlantic District Executive Minister . . .
Dear Friends,I'm getting around the district now, learningwhere our 62 churches are, being able to visualizetheir settings. While some are in rural settings, sur-rounded by farm or woodlands and few houses, morethan I realized are in the midst of neighborhoods, atown, more densely populated areas. And the truth of the matter is, in our time, in our district areas, noplace is that rural anymore, population is growingeverywhere. I visualize the hundreds and thousandsof families and people around ourchurches, people who are strugglingwith the effects of the recession, de-pression and illness, family problems,the search for meaning . . . I rememberthe haunting refrain of a song I onceheard,
People Need the Lord
I see our churches set in the midst of these growing, sometimes burgeoningcommunities, and I wonder why ourchurches aren't connecting with thesescores of people who need the Lord,connecting people with the Lord.Membership and average worship at-tendance are trending down in most of our churches -- not all, but many, while all around there are peoplewho need the Lord.I know it's not that our pastors aren't dedi-cated, hard working and caring, because they are, andif anything they work too hard and care too much forothers and too little for themselves. I know it's notthat the members of our churches are hardhearted orinsensitive to people's needs, my heart is humbled bythe loving, devoted members of our churches that Imeet most every day. I know one problem is that wewait for people to come to church rather than reachout to them. Another problem is that when people docome, too often they don't experience the quality of welcome and hospitality that would connect themwith us and the Lord. Or have we bought into theidea that the Church of the Brethren is bound to dieand so we might as well just hunker down and holdon for as long as we can? I don't accept that. Weknow the Lord, and
people need the Lord
. I believeevery church should be growing spiritually and nu-merically; it seems to me the two must go hand-in-hand, that we can't be growing spiritually, goingdeeper in the Lord, without being moved to reach outto people around us who don't know the Lord.Church extension and evangelism are centralin our district mission and values. Wehave two upcoming opportunities towork on connecting with our neighborswho need the Lord. This coming Sat-urday, January 16 from 8:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. our church extension andevangelism ministry team has invitedformer Brethren in Christ Bishop, nowExecutive Director of the Center forLeadership Impact, Craig Sider, tomeet with the leaders of our northernVirginia area churches -- the pastorsand five leaders from each congrega-tion, and district leadership to facilitateconversation about and planning forchurch extension and evangelism in those congrega-tions and area. That's a place to begin, and then theidea is to extend that conversation and planningacross the district in the months ahead.Then, on March 6 at Manassas, March 13 at Denton,and March 20 at Bush Creek, from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.,Fred Bernhard will be holding regional trainings onBiblical Hospitality and Outreach. The Oakland con-gregation in rural west central Ohio which Fred pas-tored until his retirement increased its average wor-ship attendance by 19% and Sunday school atten-dance by 36% in the first three months they began
Mid-Atlantic District Office10am-12noon
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