I did a little digging in the archives and saw that the last time we had an attendance that big (other than Easter and our new building dedication) was in May of 1996. That was before "the big split" that saw a third of our folks leave to start a new congregation.
Some thoughts on those ten years:
- My first month here, we averaged 111 people. Last week's attendance was precisely double that figure. It only took nine-an-a-half years. Imagine what God will do with the next near decade.
- My first week at BCC a friend phoned to see how it was going. "Well," I told him, "on the one hand we had our lowest attendance in over a decade last week. On the other hand, we've already managed to plant a church."
- Christ's Church at Butler, the daughter church born of our schism has done well. Their eighty souls who founded the church have worked hard in the Lord's vineyard. Now there are 170+ people who attend there on any Sunday, and they have a great bus ministry that connects with troubled kids.
- The "church across the street" as some folks have come to know our brothers and sisters at Christ's Church recently purchased a home in which they intend to hold Sunday school classes. Their new property adjoins a parcel that our congregation purchased earlier this year to increase our parking lot. Two churches. One heritage. Adjoining property. Hmmmmm. I wonder if God might use this irony for some greater purpose. Hmmmmmm.
- God took our folly and did something great with it. Between our two churches, we're reaching twice as many folks as BCC did prior to our split. Frankly, I struggle to understand this, or to place it in a context that makes sense. How is this possible? Is God's blessing in spite of our mis-conception?
- We've got a long way to go. Even with 222 people meeting at the corner of Oak and Eastern, that is still less than 10% of the folks who live in Butler. A town that, by some estimates, remains 70% unchurched. What are we going to do to reach those people with the good news of Jesus Christ?
- Finally, God is good, and I am grateful. I look forward to seeing what He'll do next in this great adventure.