To the Members and Friends of St. John’s, Irmo:
A few weeks ago, God gave us a taste of what Fall might feel like. The temperatures were a little cooler and the humidity was a lot lower, so it made us feel even cooler. I think everyone I mentioned that to said how much they enjoyed change.
A lot of times change is good. Sometimes we talk about the “good old days” and I wonder what we mean by that. The field of medicine has made such phenomenal advances, it’s almost beyond belief what surgeons can accomplish, of even diagnoses. Automobiles are quicker and more comfortable than horses, wagons and buggies. We even carry our telephones around in our pockets nowadays giving us instant communication with our families, or with emergency personnel. Our “smart phones” have more power and can do more than the computers our astronauts used when they traveled to the moon and back.
But perhaps what we remember about the “good old days” were the close families, visitation (on Sunday afternoons), the whole family going to church on Sunday mornings and the whole family eating together at meals. Those were the good things about the “good old days”. But, again, things change. Whether they are for the good or otherwise, they change and there’s little we can do about it. The best we can do is adapt.
Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with some of our congregations today. They’re still living in the 50’s and 60’s when church attendance was at its peak. Because it worked then doesn’t mean it will work now. Why, in those days, little was done about evangelism. Families typically had enough children to keep the church populated and things kind of run themselves. We as church members got rather lazy about reaching out to new members and making sure the various programs were successful and growing.
During the past four plus years I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving as your pastor. We have experienced slow and steady growth—both in attendance and in reaching out to our neighbors. I am a firm believer that the future of the Church is in small congregations. I have expressed this to many folks at the Synod level as well as other pastors when the subject comes up. Large congregations, especially mega churches, are built on a corporate model. While corporations work efficiently and effectively working like this, churches have to be more personal, more willing to adapt to the circumstances that present themselves.
Thanks to all of you we have been able to do that. We have been able to adapt to the needs of our community with the resources that God has given us. We have a Sunday school for our younger children and the teachers are been loyal and dedicated to providing the children with a knowledge base of the Bible and how it applies to them. Our Vacation Bible School and Bible studies have been well attended and I believe they are meeting the needs of those who are participating.
Bottom line, as your pastor, I see my role is to continue to lead the congregation in continuing to adapt to meet your changing emotional and spiritual needs. One of the keys in making this successful is your communication with the pastor. Let me know what you need to improve your relationship with God.
As always, I thank you for being the church!
See all of you in church Sunday!
In His Service,
John Derrick, Vicar