Do you remember when 2026 seemed like a year from a science fiction movie? It is hard to believe that is only ten years away. Do you know where you will be ten years from now? Did you know ten years ago that you would be where you are today? I had know idea I would be where I am today. However, I am very glad to be here.
Where will you be? Thom Rainer had a great post yesterday “Ten Traits of the Healthiest Churches Ten Years from Now.” Make sure you read the entire post. I want to reflect on these traits in the context of where we, here at Barntiz and Mt. Zion, find ourselves today.
1. They have the same pastor they did ten years ago.
In The United Methodist Church, pastors are appointed on a year to year basis. With that said, longer stays are possible, and longer stays are better. So, it would be great to still be serving in this area ten years from now.
2. The pastor, staff, and church members have a decade of calling to the local community.
When I read this, all I can think of is our current sermon series, #hollyacts. This is a focus on our community. More so, this is evidence of the churches seeking to work more and more together for the community. We have taken more and more shared steps together through community services and some shared ministry. It will be awesome to see where this will be ten years from now as we continue to take the steps we are taking.
3. The church will be as diverse as the community.
We just talked about this last Sunday #hollyacts – Engage. Engaging with people’s lives who are different than yours. Connecting to people, sharing Christ’s love with those no one is connecting with is at the heart of who we are at Barnitz and Mt. Zion.
4. The church will have responded to its international mission field in its own backyard for ten years.
Again, this was just brought up this last Sunday. A good first step here may be to go and shop at one of the ethnic food stores that are in our area, from here to Harrisburg. In recent years, we have connected with immigrants from the Middle East in our Christmas giving. Leaders are asking, What is our “community”? They are realizing that it extends beyond what we have traditionally known.
5. The church will have had a consistent and strategic outward focus for a decade.
We are at a very exciting point as a church. Leaders from both churches recently journeyed through the process of better understanding the church we believe God is calling us to be. We realize there are thousands of people in our area who do not know Jesus loves them. Even if they may be familiar with the words of “Jesus Loves Me” they struggle to know how it connects to their entire living, their life. We continue to work to make Connecting People to Christ’s Love the primary focus of who we are. It should really be exciting to see where this takes us over the next ten years. (If you contact us through the contact page here, I would be happy to email you a brochure that discusses this much more.)
6. All new members the past ten years will have attended a new members’ class.
Yes, we do this.
7. The church will have seen the cultural changes of the decade as opportunities rather than threats.
We might need to work on this one a bit. However, you are reading this from a blog. Right?
8. At least 80 percent of the worship attendance will have moved to a small group over the decade.
We started Journey Groups as a ministry here. These are sermon based small groups, encouraging one another to live out their faith. We fully get the importance of groups.
9. At least 50 percent of the attendance will have invited at least four people to church each year. Over ten years, a church of 200 in attendance will thus have invited 4,000 people or families to church.
We started with an emphasis here last Christmas. We encouraged everyone to see how many people they could connect with each week. We connected with hundreds of people in a few short weeks!
10. Every year for ten years these churches will have become more joyous and fun.
Being a healthy church is a journey. In some ways, it also seems like a contradiction, for the church is filled with a bunch of imperfect people, sinners. And yet, Jesus says He came to heal us, to forgive us and to work in us a new creation. There are many many positives noted above. We will not journey “perfectly”, but I do believe we are journeying well. We have seen many wonderful things in the life of these churches to date, but I believe we are in a place where we can see even more ten years from now.
You ask, What do we do in the mean time? We journey together. We keep taking our steps, together. There is no better place to be than where God is at work. There is nothing better than to live the life God is calling you to live. There is no greater definition of success. Join us, celebrate with us, as we Connect People to Christ’s Love.