Pastor’s Ponderings

A few months ago, Pastor Kathy and I were at a training our conference was hosting for pastors. In this training we were learning about different types of churches. We learned how healthy vibrant churches who are engaged in mission and ministry in their community are sometimes growing but most often in this day and age they are shrinking. This was not news to us, nor is it probably news to you. But what stood out to both of us was how the difference between a growing church and a shrinking church is that both types of churches eventually experience a decrease in the number of new people who walk through their doors. Growing churches notice when that influx of new people starts to slow to a trickle, they pray about it, learn about it, and work to figure out how to reach out and connect with their community in new ways. As soon as we heard this, Pastor Kathy and I looked at each other and both said: this is what Asbury can do! Asbury, like many churches in the USA right now has been experiencing a numeric decline over the past few decades. While our ministry is important and vibrant in our community and our church is a healthy and loving place, we get to join in community with fewer people and the demographics our church community do not reflect the demographics of Livermore. This awareness does not have to make us sad or feel ashamed. This is not a judgment on Asbury, this is part of the life cycle of every church. And we have the opportunity now to notice it, take it seriously, and ask God what God dreams for Asbury in the future! We have the opportunity to respond to this reality not with anxiety or fear, but with hope and purpose. As people who love this community we have the responsibility to seek out help that will help us discern together how we can change, grow, and continue to be a healthy, vibrant church in the future. Not only is growth important for Asbury, it is also important for the people in our Livermore community we can connect with and invite to discover the joy, purpose, and meaning of God’s love that we find here.

Asbury has an exciting opportunity ahead of us that everyone is invited to join in: in January Church Council voted to hire a coach! Our coach, Rev. Kim Griffith will come out to visit us April 6-7, she will get to know Asbury UMC and Livermore, and then she will work with us to help us figure out how we can reach out to our community in new ways. We know that God calls us to be Christ’s hands and feet on earth; God calls each and every one of us to live out God’s transforming love in our neighborhood. But it’s not always easy to figure out how to do that. Rev. Kim will help us discover new ways to be God’s love in our Livermore community. But we need all of us working together to learn and grow together in following God’s dream for Asbury UMC and Livermore. We follow a God of transforming love who says, “behold! I am making all things new” (Rev 21.5).  So what is the next step? Save the date for an all church workshop with Rev. Kim on April 6 from 9:30am-3:30pm. The more people who join, the richer this workshop will be so we hope that you will be able to come. Please contact myself or Pastor Kathy if you have any questions. And in the meantime, we encourage everyone to be in prayer for Asbury as we embark on this exciting new adventure and discern how God is calling us to be a part of God’s work of making all things new right here in Livermore!

-Pastor Chelsea

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