As mentioned, turnout was very respectable, especially when considered as a proportion to what the membership is. Participation was also good, with helpful questions and observations being shared during the ‘teaching’ times. My thoughts here are primarily about the circle time and it’s questions.
In response to the first question we heard some common themes as to what had made for good group decisions in people’s past experience. Going from memory I recall things like “common goals” “everything on the table” “openness” “honesty” and “no game playing/manipulation” “everyone willing to contribute” and the like. If others stood out in your memory please add via the comments below.
The second question got at what stood out for people in the learning time. There we heard things like “this is normal, we are not alone” with respect to a church being stagnated membership-wise and even declining. There was a sense that people were relieved to learn some framework for understanding where CCC is today.
You can see the chart of CCC’s Membership pattern here: Prof Members, Members and Worship attendance (if you click on the link, it seems to download the page (a pdf) for you, so it will not appear automatically, you have to know how to find it. Too much time spent on this report already prevents me from working out a different solution today)
The third question was really the key focus point of the whole morning. Everything before was setting up this question:
Where do you see CCC being at in it’s life cycle, and, given what you have learned how do you feel about where CCC is right now?
The responses were unanimous that CCC was past maturity and in decline. The differences in response were where she is seen to be in the slide side of decline. Some thought near death, some thought just before that. There were feelings of sadness expressed around that state. Yet we also heard statements of hope and resolve. Statements that indicated resilience, determination, even in the middle of sadness. I had the strong sense that there was something important happening as we went round the circle and heard people speak. For one, many had likely only had private fears and concerns about CCC’s reality. To hear a consensus about that reality seemed to me to be a strengthening thing. Knowing that all saw that the membership situation was a sign of weakening seemed to give resolve and strength. For that reason alone, and the good pizza, the event was worthwhile.
The most amazing and sign-nificant thing that happened that morning happened in the lobby during a stretch break. An attendee noticed a lady walking in the direction of the church with a young girl in hand. The lady came into the church, and was greeted. The Lady’s question? “Is it OK to come to church here tomorrow?” Wow! I try not to exaggerate coincidences too much as signs from God, but this has a feeling of a God-chuckle, a God-encouragement to me. On the very morning that we are together wringing our hands a bit (and legitimately) about whether this congregation has a future in this area, God sent someone to ask about coming to join us for worship! And she did. She was in church the next morning with her grand-daughter!