My church, Amicable Church, is filled with a wonderful group of people; people who are committed to serving God, their neighbor, and the world. It is a welcoming and loving community.
What I have just described fits pretty much all the churches of our beloved Rhode Island Conference, because our churches are home to such welcoming, loving faith communities. Thus, it is a surprise to me that so many of our churches, mine included, share something else in common: great struggles to maintain sustainability.
About two years ago I was speaking with the Rev. Dan Randall, pastor of First Congregational Church UCC in Bristol, and he told me about a church growth consultant his church had hired. This consultant was Episcopalian, but seemed to understand Congregational polity and churches. His name is Peter Saros.
Fast forward to last January (2013), when I learned our Conference had set up a Saturday morning Stewardship workshop for our churches to be led by this very same Peter Saros. Having heard the good reviews from Dan, I encouraged Amicable’s Trustees to go and listen. Amicable had four representatives attend that session and all four came back enthused. The result was that our church voted to hire Peter. We signed a three-year contract for him to serve as our church growth consultant for our annual pledge drive, a potential capital campaign, and, most importantly, church growth.
I will not go into detail about how he is helping Amicable Church. I will say our pledge drive last fall was successful, but, more importantly, Peter’s response to the increase in giving was: “That’s great. Now that we are less worried about money let’s focus on the important stuff: Church Growth.” For Peter that means looking for ways to get people in the door, because once they are in, they will be hooked. After all, our churches are welcoming, loving faith communities. Through the gentle mentoring of our leadership, Peter Saros is helping Amicable Church to grow our ministry outreach to our community and the world.
Why am I writing this? Am I a “front man” for Peter Saros? Absolutely not! I am writing because it is my covenant with you to share those things which I believe will help build up our life together. It was through my connections with the RI Conference that I learned about Peter, and he was the right person at the right time for Amicable. There are rich resources out there for all of us. But, it is important to exchange ideas and resources.
It is my hope and prayer that, as we learn to share with one another both our successes and failures, we will strengthen our covenant with one another, helping to build one another up to the glory of God.
We are learning a new way how to be the RI Conference, 31 Congregations ð 1 Church.
May God bless us as together we seek to grow the Body of Christ.
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