Like most people who do what I do (pastor a church), I've just come through that time when we look back at the record we wrote for last year. I'm a new church pastor, so the numbers are never good enough, but I was feeling pretty good about the numbers we discussed in a meeting last night. We added 19 new members (even though a new church at this stage of development doesn't really have members). We only had 5 people decide that what we're doing isn't for them and move on. So our net result was a good one. Giving numbers were also good. We came closer than I had thought we would to meeting our budget for 2009, even in the midst of all the economic downturn that we've all heard enough about. That give us hope as we project even bigger goals for 2010. Nobody died last year. We baptized two new babies. Had one profession of faith (not bad for Presbyterians, I guess.) Participation in programs was good. People met to study, to serve, to worship. Overall, I was feeling better than I had hoped to feel now that the new year is well underway.
Then today I opened a book I've been reading and rereading in spurts for a while. It's a book of advice from seasoned preachers and teachers to all the rest of us. I won't cite the specific author or essay, but at one point a writer encourages us to look realistically at our ministries. As he looks at his, he comments on how the location of his church building has helped them grow and do many things. When he lists down sides of his work, the first thing he mentions is that the sanctuary in which he preaches only holds 1200 people at a time, so they have to have five worship services on Sundays.
As if inadequacy isn't already enough of a problem for those of us who serve in the church..... I'm trying to convince myself that growing attendance and participation numbers are still something to feel good about. I'm not sure about preaching five times on Sunday is even something I want to do.
When talking about the trials and struggles of life, I have a friend who tries to be positive when she says, "It's not much of a hill for a climber." I'm trying to find the place to grab onto to continue the climb.