Is this a Church, or a Community Center? Both! forum: Evolving from large traditional to smaller multi-purpose building.

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greenbrain
Apr 3, 2016 10:23 PM CST
Hello. My name is Betty. I was thrilled to learn about this cubit page. Reading others' posts, I understand that many churches are facing the same challenges today as my own church. Here’s some history on our continually evolving church.

My husband and I, due to our growing family, bought our first home 27 years ago. Right away, I was invited to join the church across the street from our new home. I joined the church and stayed there with my children becoming involved in the children’s department and the choir. I taught all different ages of children’s Sunday school and summer VBS while taking turns leading children’s church, and eventually organized the children’s annual Christmas play. All seemed wonderful for many years. Then, our aging church leaders started leaving due to health issues. Their adult children began moving away. We found our church population declining quickly and had problems keeping a pastor due to financial issues. The association stepped in and appointed an African American pastor who was bi-vocational. Since our neighborhood had an increasing black population, we hoped this would help bring in new families. I was the only member of the old church group that stayed to help the new pastor, and I have never regretted my decision made 15 years ago. Learning to adapt to the cultural differences, I continued to work in the children’s department. We had wonderful back to school block parties, annual Easter egg hunts, summer VBS, and did begin experiencing some growth; esp. bringing in more children than adults. We eventually sold our enormous old church building to focus more on ministry and less on building upkeep. Downsizing to a smaller church building that better served our needs has proved to be a wise decision. We spend less time and money on upkeep as we had hoped.

A few years back something wonderful happened. My husband became a born again Christian, joined the church, and experienced a spiritual growth that amazed everyone. Since then, we started experiencing the loss of our adult children and aging members. Our own pastor lost a leg to diabetes almost 2 years ago. He just recently started driving again. We lost my husband who passed away from colon cancer 16 months ago at 59 years of age. We held a beautiful memorial service at the church. My husband was loved and respected by all; having played the drums every Sunday during service and also serving as a deacon in training. Our family endured with the love and support of our church family.

Presently, we can’t even attract children to our back to school block parties or Easter egg hunts. It’s very discouraging and we have stopped holding these events. The only children attending are the grandchildren that we bring ourselves. However, we haven’t given up. We are just trying to figure out how we can spread the gospel to a new generation and reach the lost in this new high tech era. I recently created a Facebook page for our church. Though some still roll their eyes when I mention it, they are slowly coming around.

This is my church history in a nutshell. Thank you for creating this forum, sharing your story, and taking such an interest in others. God bless.
ImageTallulah_B
Apr 4, 2016 1:16 PM CST
Name: Susan
Torrington, Alberta, Canada
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum
Betty - so sorry for the loss of your husband. Group hug At 59, that is so young, but on the plus side, he went with the Lord in his heart and that is blessed indeed.
I understand how loved he would be by your home & church family Angel

I wish our older church (which we are no longer at) had taken the step to move to a smaller building, but they have the one built in the 50's and it's got a long set up stairs to the sanctuary, and a long set of stairs down to the lower hall, and thankfully an elevator that takes you from the outside to either floor.
Currently they are spending more funds on keeping the church up than on keeping the spiritual part going. It seems a lot of it is about fundraising, and such things.
As they have such an older, smaller, congregation, they could go with being a chapel, and pay Presbytery less each year, however I don't think they want to go that way (in case they grow? not likely at this point)
I continue to be friends with the people there, and we are going to their Spring Ham Dinner on April 9th. One of the Elders bought tickets for us, and invited us. The people there are gentle souls, and we feel a lot of Christian love from them. Lovey dubby

Anyway, things are going well at the Church I go to now - Northminster. I've been there a year, and I'm slowly working my way into the congregation and doing more within the church. They are a "Welcoming, Celebrating, Becoming" church Lovey dubby

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greenbrain
Apr 4, 2016 9:33 PM CST
There are many other churches that I could move to in this area. However, our pastor has such determination and heart that I plan to support this ministry as long as God allows him to continue as our pastor. His help mate is pretty special too. They both have 4 year degrees in behavioral science and have years of experience counseling drug addicts and alcoholics. Our pastor's wife is very close to earning her Master's. It has been our hopes with the facilities in our new building to run a non profit adult daycare. Our focus the past 1 1/2 years has been about our pastor learning to walk and drive again. He will be 58 years old this summer. Also, there was my husband's illness. We feel like this time of trials has been God's way of preparing us to do His work. We just pray for guidance to be in His will.
ImageTallulah_B
Apr 5, 2016 1:16 AM CST
Name: Susan
Torrington, Alberta, Canada
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum
I pray that you will be able to continue in this way as well, Betty. It sounds like a plan made in Heaven, just right for you.
In our previous church, I call him a minister, but he calls himself a pastor (It's not usual for a United Church spiritual leader to be called "pastor", but someone explained that he hasn't had his "calling" so cannot be called "minister". This is a Canadian church, so I suppose it's different in the U.S.). His wife is not part of his church - she didn't want to be called upon as the "minister's wife" he says. Unfortunately, this makes for a lot of dysfunction in the personal life of him in the church, but that's another story.

I'm going to go off the topic of my previous church, and going forward concentrate on my current one. I will just say this - the Pastor wanted to "help" me transfer to another church - his choice of words, not mine, and I spent a lot of prayerful, tearful months getting past this, and getting the strength from God to move on. I have all the members of that church that have asked us to return, but when the spiritual leader has made it plain that he does not want you to be an active part of the church, it is really hard to be there.

I am VERY happy to have Christian friends in both churches, and Very happy to be at Northminster where we are loved, and valued, in by all in our Christian family there. They are supportive, and caring people. Lovey dubby Angel

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greenbrain
Apr 5, 2016 3:30 PM CST
About church being different.. have you ever seen the movie Sister Act? You can only imagine the cultural differences going from a traditional all Caucasian church to a black church. At first, I was completely lost. God gave me the strength to return feeling like it was one of those trials that I needed to go thru. It sounds like we've sort experienced the same disconnection for a time. Whistling
ImageTallulah_B
Apr 5, 2016 6:11 PM CST
Name: Susan
Torrington, Alberta, Canada
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum
I am celebrating life today!! Got the results from my GP on my kidneys, liver & spleen and all is good. He had been worried about an enzyme being WAY too high, but I'm FINE Hurray!
Praise God!!

Betty - Bob & I are very lucky that this has now given us two church families (albeit with 1 minister at the church we attend) because both churches care for us in the most "real" way possible. When we are down & out for any reason, both churches connect with each other to make sure they aren't duplicating efforts and that we are being sufficiently looked after. We are doubly blessed. Lovey dubby Angel

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greenbrain
Apr 5, 2016 7:36 PM CST
Praise God. He is good all the time! Hurray!

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