When Devon and I first moved here, the congregation was largely retired senior citizens. (One of the main causes of this was a painful church separation, where many members left over a difficult set of circumstances.) Now, there is nothing wrong with the congregation being composed of mainly senior citizens, but the congregation indicated we needed to reach out and create a base within the congregation that included all age groupings, especially with younger families.
Today, we're averaging a slightly higher Sunday morning attendance, about 15-20% higher than we first started, from 60 to an average of about 70-75 (and even higher on some weeks!). We have also improved our demographics: Within this higher average attendance, we have increased from just a couple young families when we moved here (including us!) to now seeing at least 16 attenders who are under-40 (many of whom have young children). (By the way, that means over 20% of our average attendance (including children) is under-40.) We are clearly establishing a base for the Horton Road church to be strong into the future.
Two exciting things are happening this weekend. One, we're transitioning to a new leadership group that will be able to be more ministry-focused than our men's meeting has been able to be. This is not due to the fault of any of the men; it's the nature of the beast for a monthly business meeting to be dominated by, well, business. This new leadership group will be able to meet more frequently and will have a guaranteed ministry component: the leaders will be accountable for monthly congregational visitation. This will be a great way for us to communicate with church members, visit, and determine and serve needs.
Two, we're beginning 3 new adult bible classes. Allow me a word about our Sunday morning bible classes. When Devon and I first moved here, there was one Sunday morning adult class and one class for children. The children's class was pretty much for any child of any age who came. Now, not only are we starting 3 adult bible studies, but we also have 3 youth classes: one for ages 1-3; one for ages 6-12; and a teen class. That's improvement, and we should be encouraged at the increases we're seeing, as well as by the commitment of those who have said they'll teach. In addition to these classes, we've also begun a children's church for ages 2-6 that meets during our sermon time! Isn't it nice to have this many children around?
The purpose of our 3 adult bible classes is to promote fellowship and evangelism by having a smaller class. We're trying to use our bible classes as an entry point into the church, rather than just a knowledge-based experience for our members. By having smaller-sized classes, you ought to be able to get to know others better, and even invite your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to the group.
These are things we should be proud of. We've outlasted some of the naysayers, overcome challenges, and developed our congregation by reaching out in a variety of ways to the community. Let's continue growing and developing, improving and reaching out, and working together for the Lord.