Tag Archive | pastor louis knowles

Pastor’s Post – February 2019

From-the-Pastor-2

A few days ago, members of Session and I attended a lunch with representatives of a new program of the Presbyterian Foundation called “Project Regeneration.”  Along with people from several other Long Island congregations, we listened to a presentation that provided information about congregations around the country much like ours:  that is, established churches that once had hundreds of members and now are much smaller and struggling to maintain their ministry.  This lunch was designed to be the first of four gatherings to be held over the next year on Long Island to explore ways churches are responding to their situation, especially financial strategies.

Although it was not said in so many words, the theme of this first lunch seemed to be: “You are not alone in your experience of decline.”  Here are just a few of the facts that were shared with us:

The national Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) has lost over a third of its membership in the last fifteen years and has 13% fewer congregations.

A “typical” Presbyterian is 63 years old.  The average American is 38 years old.

The median Presbyterian congregation has 81 members.

85% of mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian etc) have plateaued in membership or are declining.

If the sanctuary is less than 40% full for worship, visitors are much less likely to return.

Congregational mergers are rare.  (Nice to know that we here are special!)

In the face of these sobering facts, churches around the country have found ways to re-define their mission and to maintain their financial viability.  I am hoping that over the course of the next three lunches, we will learn about creative and inspiring examples that will help us to think “outside the box” in terms of continuing ministry in these difficult times.  Our guests from the Foundation provided this helpful thought:  “The situation you and your church find yourself in is not your fault, but it is your problem.”   I would only add: “It is our problem but also our opportunity.”  Although our situation may not always feel hopeful, I believe we have the resources to fashion a new way of being a Christian church here and now.  God is challenging us to use our creativity and to gather our courage.

Please let me know if you would like to be included in the next lunch, which will take place on Tuesday, March 26 also at Sweet Hollow.

Pastor Lou

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Pastor’s Post – November 2018

From the Pastor

Pastor’s Post

During the past month, I attended two Saturday mini-conferences that looked at the prospects for the Christian church and its American congregations in the near future.

The first event was sponsored by Lutherans here on Long Island and featured a lot of practical information about congregation building.  Two words of wisdom that summarize a lot of that day are:

“People are drawn to a church with a purpose.”  The speaker suggested focusing church   attention on one or two community needs.

“People are drawn to a church when they can see that it is changing lives.”

This speaker had quite a bit to say about stewardship practices and evangelism, and I hope to share those with you as occasions for that kind of discussion arise.

The second event was a day-long mini-conference sponsored by the Presbytery of Long Island that featured Rev. Brian McLaren, a nationally recognized thinker and author on the future of Christianity in our country.  This man grew up as a fundamentalist but has now changed his mind about a lot of theological things.  Early in his remarks he challenged us by saying that many Christians now are trying to “save” their churches, but we need to consider Christ’s words when he said that someone who wants to save his or her life must lose it.  What might that mean for us in terms of the life of our church?   He told an inspiring story about a church in England that began to work with kids who were using the church parking lot for skateboard activities.  Rather than chasing the youngsters away, the church people found a way to organize the skating activity and even got the young people to think about God and their own lives.

Church members who attended the McLaren conference with me were:  Arlene Griemsmann, Maria Studer, Joan Tischner, Carol Teta, Camille Hartman, Sharon Slade and Janice Kincaid.

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November is stewardship month, the time of year we ask all members to let the Session know what you will give in the coming year of 2019.  Over the past three years, I have been thankful for the faithfulness of the membership in giving.  Your pledged giving goes toward two important things:

1) Maintenance of our buildings, which not only are our places of worship but that host many community activities.  Everything from AA to boy scouts to basketball leagues to dance and yoga classes are benefiting from the space we provide at modest rents.  All these groups would find it difficult to find other places to meet if we were not here.

2) Support of our worship and Christian Education programs.  As a Presbyterian Church, we value the leadership of trained clergy and the volunteer service of our Sunday School teachers and Gathering organizers.

In thinking about financial needs in the coming year, I would advise you that there are no plans to close either of our two properties.  By December I expect the Session will make a firm commitment to maintain both our pre-schools through June, 2020.  Our financial performance during 2019 will be an important indicator of whether we should support both buildings beyond June, 2020.

 

-Pastor Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supper at Six – April 23 – 6-8:30 at Massapequa

 

fellowship-hour

SUPPER AT SIX

 

Sunday, April 23  from 6-8:30pm in the

 

Fellowship hall at the Presbyterian

 

Community Church of Massapequa

 

Members, family, friends, children &

 

grandchildren are encouraged to attend.

 

Please bring your favorite covered dish and board game.  Dessert & beverages will

be provided.  RSVP to Joan Tischner.