[Imported from the Nov. 7 weekly email update of St. Paul's Montrose, ultimately from the Lutheran Stewardship Website. Author unknown, a the moment.]
As some of you may know, my background and experience for the first thirty years of my career was in business, mainly the food and packaging of food products for large corporations as well as Mom and Pop companies. I did business in every state in the Union from Jimmy Dole’s pineapples in Hawaii to Long Island Kosher in New York and several companies in Europe as well. Then in the mid 1990’s I switched my focus to working with congregations for the ELCA and have been doing some coaching/ writing ever since.
In all that time I have never coached or worked with any company or organization that was growing and reaching their goals --- that was not in a constant state of change. Their mission seldom changed as they all focused on providing the finest quality to as many people as possible, but the way they attempted to reach their potential customers and motivate them to buy their products was in perpetual change.
In the case of the world of business, the #1 reason for companies failing is their inability to “keep up” with the rapid changes in the marketplace and their inability to react and adapt. Over fifty per cent of the products on the market today, didn’t exist twenty years ago. The old brand names of that era are seldom to be found. Twenty years ago there were no gas cards, phone cards, cell phones, personal computers or CD’s --- things that are considered necessities today!
What’s that have to do with our congregations? We make a point to go out of our way to tell everyone that we aren’t a business, we are a church! And in saying that we are giving ourselves a “free pass” in not having to try to imitate what is working or not working in the business community? My friends, let’s remember that the people in our churches on Sunday are the same people that are driving the business community the other six days of the week. If quality is what they look for in their purchases --- quality is what they will look for in their churches as well. If good music is important in putting them in the right mood during the “quiet times” of their lives, growth requires change --- but the other path is not an option! And that’s just good stewardship good music will be just as important in their worship experience. The bottom line is that whether it’s a business or a church, they both have to provide the quality, the ambiance and the message that move people’s hearts and motivate them to become committed.
We as the church have something that no other organization could every duplicate, we have the living savior, Jesus Christ as our leader. Jesus is offering us the most important gift we can ever receive in salvation and complete happiness! But Jesus was also very cognizant of what it took to change hearts and minds and used parables that would make people think and understand his message. He was the master marketer of God’s words.
Our congregations are standing today at the crossroads of a completely new era in reaching this society. One path leads to vibrant new growth, increased involvement and expending ministries and the other path leads to a slow decline in our ability to minister to others and to help their change lives. It’s up to us if we have the faith and courage to step forward into the future --- or take a step backwards and become a part of the past. The road to growth requires change --- but the other path is not an option! And that’s just good stewardship!