October is almost over which means November is almost here. November means Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving means holiday season. Holiday season means Christmas and Christmas happens at the end of the year. So, this year is almost over! Does anybody else feel that way? It seems like 2016 has flown by. As I look back over these past ten months there are so many things to celebrate.
Every year, our church is required to turn in our “annual church profile” to the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s kind of like watching the film after a football game. My coach used to tell me, “You can say whatever you want to say, but the film doesn’t lie.” Every year a church gets a similar kind of reality check. So how did we do?
I asked Cyndy to give me the annual church profile numbers from the last ten years. This year we saw 54 people follow Christ in believer’s baptism. 54!! We haven’t seen that many people get baptized in over 10 years. In addition to those 54 baptisms we had 58 people join our church. That’s over 100 new people added to our church in just 12 months! Our average weekly worship attendance increased by about 5% and there’s been a particular uptick in attendance at Broadview West.
It’s been a year of great growth in so many respects. This past Sunday, when I was preaching in the 11:00 service, I thought to myself, “it seems like around 50% of the people in this room have started attending Broadview within the last two years.” There really are so many new faces! Many of these folks are young adult families. Some of them have connected to Broadview through the Broadview Freedom Ministries on Tuesday nights. The majority were simply invited by a friend.
Our church has grown in terms of our generosity as well. When the Multiply Offering came online in February, so many new people in our church started going above and beyond their normal giving so that the church would be better positioned to act on the vision God has given to us. We wanted take a more aggressive approach of paying down our debt so that we could capitalize on any new opportunities that God might bring.
Conventional wisdom says that people don’t give to pay down debt. Y’all have proved the conventional wisdom false! For many of you, it was the first time that you’ve ever even given to the church! You took a step of faith and God has blessed it.
For those of you who don’t remember, our debt started out at $555,500 in June of 2012. It’s October of 2016 and that debt is now down to $266,000. That’s almost $300,000 off the principle in just a little over four years. That’s incredible. What’s even more incredible is that $202,000 has been put towards that debt THIS YEAR ALONE. It just blows my mind that our church is so generous and so firmly committed to the vision God has given us to multiply disciples, bless our city, plant churches and send missionaries.
The added giving to the Multiply Offering has been accompanied by a continued commitment to give to our General Fund and our World Missions Offering. Broadview’s commitment to generosity is bigger this year than it was the year before. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come. Even though we may be in a time of transition with our full-time staff, our church is healthy, growing, stable and secure.
Now, you may be thinking, “if we added over 100 people but only increased our average attendance by 5%, then where are all the other people?” That’s a good question. Some of it is sociological. People attend church less often today than they did 10 years ago. This is especially true of young families! Going to church “once a week” to be considered a “regular attender” has now shifted into “once a month.” At least that is what the latest research is saying. As we continue reaching new young families we’ll also continue to see this trend. The number of people who consider Broadview their “home church” is likely far greater than our average weekly attendance.
However, I don’t want to explain this problem away. It’s not that simple. Another reason our average attendance isn’t higher is because some families have indeed left our church. Just as people have been coming to our church to join in on what God is doing, so also some people have left. To some degree this happens naturally. People go home to be with the Lord, others move out of town, some are called to do ministry elsewhere. However, in other cases, people leave the church because they’re dissatisfied or unhappy with what the church is doing or where the church is going.
I actually read an article on this just the other day. Some people leave because of “church politics.” Others leave because the church no longer feels like “home.” Some leave because the church seems too judgmental. Sometimes it’s because they disagree with how the money is spent or what the church is focused on. Personally, I find most people leave because they never got involved. People might come because they’re attracted to an event but they will only stay when they experience genuine Christian community.
You can help us close the back door so that we start keeping the people we’re reaching. Step up and start a small group. Email Pastor David and he can help you get started. Invite people not only to a church service but also into Christian community. Do your part of fulfilling the “one anothers” of the New Testament. Be humble, gracious and loving in your interaction with others, especially at church. If you’re serving somewhere and know someone who isn’t, ask them to join you! Above all, live the kind of life that attracts people to Jesus and multiply your life every chance you get. Jesus will build the church if we’ll just be obedient to make disciples.
Have a great week!