Florence Congregational Church
Friday, April 10, 2020
A Place to Connect

Summer News 2016

The summer months of July and August are often quieter months around the church. Many members take off weekends to enjoy their camps, campers and weeks of vacations. The flow in and out of the church slows down to a trickle. However, there is much to do this summer. Rev. Norm Erlendson challenged those attending the June 11th congregational workshop to spend time envisioning what God is calling Florence Church to do. You may  recall that I introduced Rev Erlendson in my June article, sharing:
 The article, Americans Turning Away from Organized Religion in Record Numbers: What’s the future of religious institutions in the U.S.?, offers stats that concur with Doug’s Annual Meeting prophecy. Rev Erlendson will share some of this information in addition to words about the challenges facing vintage churches today. According to information I have received from Rev. Erlendson, recent studies have identified six top factors in growing churches: spiritual dynamics, effective evangelism, strategic planning, excellent leadership, productive assimilation, and inspiring worship. What does this mean for us? How well are we doing? What might we need to do different to redirect our spiraling decline? Each of these factors have bearing on our work together. I have arranged for Rev. Erlendson to lead this inspiring workshop on June 11th from 9am to noon. If you have the desire to see Florence Congregational Church survive, and maybe even thrive, make it a priority to be present for this discussion, brainstorming and purposed vision process. Yes, the future of Florence Church belongs to God’s plan; but remember you are a member of this Church, thus part of God’s plan.
We sent out 1st class letters to all local active, inactive members and friends (122), posted notice in the newsletter, and placed inserts in Sunday bulletins prior to the date. Twenty-five members attended. Those attending found his words challenging. He spoke against the notion that we can just operate according to the status quo. We have to be different, bold and engaged in the work God has placed in our hands. He asked simple questions like, “What is your purpose as the Florence Church in this village? What do you believe God is calling you to do?” These are very similar questions I have asked for three years in sermons, newsletters and annual meeting reports. Most were at a loss for words, possibly due to the impact of his lecture and slides. He asked, “Can you state who you are (the church) in six to eight words? What is you motto? What is your focus? What is it you want the community to say about you. The Florence Church is___________ . I noted that our welcome sign states, “Welcome: A Place to Connect,” which he thought was great. “Can you expand upon that? A place to connect with who?”
He and I talked a lot about his lecture the day before. He reminded me that we are listed as a non-profit business because we are in business to do God’s work. “What’s your product? What’s your brand? If I was to stop in at the diner uptown and asked, ‘What do you know about the Florence Congregational Church,’ what would the folks say? What do you want them to say?” “Well, they have a great Bazaar and free monthly suppers.” Not really. We are much more than that! What is your answer?
Please mark your calendars. We plan to discuss Rev Erlendson’s challenging questions and comments on Wednesday July 27th and August 24th at 7pm (Congregational Conversation on your calendar). This takes the place of the regularly scheduled Cabinet meetings usual to the fourth Wednesday. It is extremely important that you make your best attempt to be present for this conversation as the results will directly impact fall planning and budgeting.

π Pastor Irv

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325