If you want to grow the church, you have to grow the ministry

Since 1899, the Gaylord United Church of Christ has had a history of connecting with community needs, sharing a strong music ministry, and providing leaders and volunteers to school and community activities.  We were the first English-speaking church in Gaylord and we are now the only church with a choir that sings every Sunday.  Our history included a successful 22+ year ministry of leadership from Rev. Don Britt.  We wanted to continue this tradition after Rev. Britt left our church in 2002.  Rev. John Guttermann mentored our congregation ten years ago during our interim period of transition after Rev. Britt’s ministry.
Rev. Guttermann’s interim ministry planted the seeds for tackling change and doing new things.  His favorite phrase was:  “If you want to grow the church, you have to grow the ministry.”  During many congregational brainstorming sessions, we sought to identify a ministry and mission that would resonate not only with our small congregation, but also with our rural community.  We discussed many ideas, tried a few small experiments, agreed upon our core strengths and values, and wanted to do something.
However, after 7+ years of “wandering in the wilderness” our members increasingly felt as if all we did was talk and talk, but did not DO anything.  And we were also afraid to experiment with bold new activities, because we were afraid that we could be exposed to criticism, failure, or a waste of resources – namely, time, money, and trust.  Despite this fear, we continued to remember not only our past successes, but also Rev. Guttermann’s advice to try new ideas and new ways of doing things, even though not all new ideas will be successful and not all new ideas can be undertaken at one time.  In other words, do not be afraid to fail.