Pastor's Pen May 2013.

Spring growth is an amazing thing. The trees and shrubs that are beginning to bud inspire and awe me. The daffodils and flowers that are sprouting and soon will be in full bloom give me hope. The robins and other birds returning to their nests with the sound of chirping and tweeting in the air sing for me a song of praise to God. I also love the warmth of the sun beating down on me to unwind and relish the day. There is so much to be thankful for when it comes to God's creation.

Growth happens many ways in our lives too. Our faith community has experienced the love of God in worship and outreach to our community and our world through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Soon we will be celebrating the Ascension of Our Lord and continue to await the coming of Christ again. As the buds break out on the trees, as the flowers arise out of the ground, as the animals and fowl come out of hibernation, may the love of God grow and show forth in our being so that we "let the light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (EvLW page 231 of the Baptismal Service).

For the past year, St. Paul's Church Council and a Membership Task Force have examined what church growth means and what it will take for it to become a reality. We are not alone on this as many of our congregations in the Eastern Synod and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are exploring this issue. There are no magical solutions in which we snap our fingers or click our heels together and say, "Hocus Pocus, let there be church growth." Growth takes work.

The Eastern Synod became proactive in dealing with church growth when Michael Harvey was invited to speak at our Eastern Synod Assembly in 2012. His insights encouraged our Eastern Synod Council to invite him back into our territory and speak to all our Conferences. On May 4th, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, in Kitchener, is hosting the Kitchener/Waterloo Conference  Meeting and Michel Harvey will be the guest presenter in the afternoon. I am looking forward to his presentation.

Michael will be discussing his book, Unlocking the Growth, which has challenged many congregations and denominations around the world. He asserts that as growth is happening all around us and within us, growth can also happen in our churched. Michael challenges us to unlock the doors of our hearts and mind that prevents us from inviting others to church.

Chapters in this book include, Will You Come Along?, The Reasons Why We Don't Invite Our Friends, How Welcoming Are You?, Twelve Steps to Becoming an Inviting Church, The Reasons Why People Don't Come Back a Second Time, The Seven Phrases that Turn Away, Turning Failure into a Friend, Back to What?, Releasing Your Brakes, and The Ten Keys to Keeping. I found Harvey's writing style very engaging and could not put the book down. He challenged me with his inscription in the book I bought, "Be the Change."


Pastor Jeff