We held our fifth Town Hall meeting on October 20th after the worship service and bun lunch. Approximately 25 to 30 people stayed to participate.
Here are my notes as to what I planned and presented. I may have added a few comments in the live presentation, but this will give you the gist:
INTRODUCTION & REVIEW
The Transition Process is anchored in four key questions:
- Who have we been?
- Who are we now?
- Who is God nudging / calling us to become?
- What kind of Pastor will we need to help that happen?
We have explored the first two questions in our earlier Town Halls.
Today we will start to work on the third after I summarize what I think we’ve (or I’ve) learned around the first two.
Who have we been?
CCC has been a congregation that has had its ups and downs and its dreams and disappointments. There have been times of thriving, most notably at the old location, when you were outgrowing your small facility in town. A vision for a new, larger location was cast and implemented, and you came here. The twist is that several of the young families you had at the old location – creating the need for more space – did not come along. There is a sense that the vision was not adjusted to accommodate that disappointing reality.
Who are we now?
We did a quick exercise at this point to get into the kind of frame of mind. I asked for answers to this question and wrote them down on the flipchart: If you were describing CCC to someone else as if the congregation was a person, with positive and not so positive characteristics, what would you say? (some examples: Empty nest widow…) (picture of the responses will be posted later)
My understanding of who CCC is now: Today CCC is for the most part an aged and aging congregation demographically. She is a congregation in which prayer is important. She has a pocket of young adults who remain involved, and a couple of families with young children. Almost all of those have a family connection to the church. That tells us something.
The temptation as an aging congregation is very strong to kind of cling to each other and cling to memories and the hopes of what could have been as the sun goes down. To cling to older practices that are familiar and seem right. It is fair and natural and human to want to do that. But in doing that, without realizing it, sociological signals are given to any newcomers that the “group is closed and satisfied with who we are even if we are friendly and say we want more people to join us.”
I need to speak about power dynamics in describing CCC today. Power Dynamics is not the same thing as “who’s on consistory.” Every congregation has a power and influence system that guides decisions and choices which touches consistory but is not the same as consistory. Real power at CCC is held by a core segment of long term members. That core has not realized how they hold and wield that power. Their motives are good — even great. They are not evil. They have contributed greatly and sacrificially to CCC and still do as they are able.
Meanwhile the young adults have left or retreated into pockets of ministry where they feel they can operate more freely than under the scrutiny of the power group. That says something. Says something hugely signficant! At least to me. I hope you see it too.
Families that are relatively new to CCC tend to be ones that came here from South Africa.
CCC has a really good facility.
CCC is an aging isolated congregation that comes to this great facility from all over Eastern and Northern Edmonton. Few of those who attend live very nearby. The facility has a few challenges, but the property and facility and location combined have huge potential. Huge! But that is hard to see when numbers are dwindling.
CCC is well run, financially solvent, and short of people to do the things that need doing. She has a leadership challenge.
Who is God nudging/calling us to become?
We then moved to explore the above “third main” question of the Transition process. We did that in three steps.
# 1 of 3: Dreaming: Set limitations aside and dream or Imagine the CCC you would ideally come to 7 years from now. What is it like? What is happening? Who is there?
I have typed out all the written comments and turned them into what is called a “word cloud.” All the words I typed are in this cloud, with those that are most frequent shown in larger print.
I will have more careful analysis of the responses at a later date.
# 2 of 3: Naming the changes needed: Thinking of the time between now and getting to that moment 7 years from now when you enter the ideal CCC you dreamt of, what needs to be our main purpose or focus or vision in getting there?
Again, I have typed out all the responses given and turned them into a word cloud. Here it is:
I might redo these, I’m trying to meet my self-imposed deadline of sharing this, so haven’t tweaked it. There is a phrase that jumped out for me in this one. I read it as “Members need new change church community”
# 3 of 3: The vision: Complete this sentence with one to three phrases: Seven years from now I would like CCC to be a place where: _______________________________
Here’s the word cloud on that one. Again, I plan to have more detailed analysis and reports at a later date, but I will be travelling pretty much until Nov 12th, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have before then.