What if the church was to close at the end of the month? What if the church was to join with the other Methodist churches in the Matlock area? What if the church moved from its present site to form an ecumenical congregation elsewhere?
If you are wondering why I am asking those kinds of questions, when it’s less than a year since we formed Darley Dale Methodist Church, it’s simply because I think that it is important for us to think about our future. For many years now, Methodist statistics have told us that the Church is in decline. It’s not just churches that decline though, as many other organisations face a similar problem: how to get people to join them in what they are doing and how to get those people to get others to join too? If we don't think about God’s plans for us for the future, then we may miss what God is prompting us to do and, in the end, we may find ourselves thinking about closing the church. But we don’t want to do that, do we?
Although we may face similar challenges to other organisations, the church is so much more than an organisation or a club. We do lots of things that other organisations and clubs do, like spending time together, singing, studying, eating and planning, but none of those things defines us.
Darley Dale Methodist Church is a Christian community and, being a Methodist Church, is called to respond to God's love in Christ through worship, learning, caring, service and evangelism. To do these things well, I believe that we need to grow, but growing is not just about numbers! I believe that God wants us to grow in faith, to grow in our caring for one another, to grow in our use of our own gifts, to grow in our encouragement of one another, to grow in our service to the wider community and to grow in our encouraging of people to become followers of Jesus.
If we are to continue to serve the community well into the future on our present site, we surely need to wonder what God is wanting of us and we surely need to be enthusiastic about joining in with God’s mission. It may be that we need to change our premises, it may be that we need to change our priorities, it may be that we need to change our focus. Whatever God wants us to do, it would be great to be able to work that out together, so we have a Vision Day in church on Saturday 8th September between 10am and 3pm. The day will be led by our District Mission Enabler, Rev. Chris Briggs, along with a team of people from around the Circuit (Rev Robert Foster, Rev Helen Penfold, Andrew Whysall, Blayze White and Judith Milner) who will share in leading the day and will ensure that we are fed and refreshed during our time together.
So come along on 8th September to reflect on what God has been doing in our midst already; come along to share your hopes and your concerns; come along to join in the conversations, the prayers, the vision-shaping. Come along!
In order that we have some idea of numbers for catering, if you plan to come please write your name on the sheet in the entrance by the end of August. There will be no charge for the lunch.
From now until 8th September please keep the Vision Day in your prayers, listen to what God is saying to you and bring that to the conversations on the day.