Pastor’s Notes 2-10-18: Why Are We Here?

By Dr. Kevin Thomas

What we measure matters! When we consistently reward good behavior in children, we are more likely to see good behavior. When we celebrate athletes for their success, people work hard to become better athletes. When we venerate academic success, people study harder. I remember how hard we worked as junior high students to earn a silly little blue “A Honor Roll” pin. Our metric for success makes a difference.

During my first year at Forest Lake, I was in a planning meeting for our fall festival. It was a grand event. We invested $1500 and dozens of hours of labor. I asked the planning group what we hoped to accomplish. Their first response was a hope to have 500 people in attendance. I pressed, “How will that help us achieve our vision?” That question redirected our work. We decided that our goal for fall festival would be that ten new families would attend our midweek meal. We printed up tickets for a free meal and made the invitations. Two families came for their free meal and didn’t return. When we evaluated the event, we decided it was not a good use of our resources. It was fun. It was very well done. But, it didn’t accomplish our vision.

We are currently reviewing our vision, mission, and priorities. I hope you’ll join the conversation in Sunday school classes, over the table in our Wednesday night meal, and in the hallways. Please help us to pinpoint why we are in business. What’s our purpose? Your feedback will be important! Let me know your opinion about where our focus should be. Once we clarify vision, mission, and priorities, those will be the standard by which all of our activity is measured. We will reward, celebrate, and even throw parties for those activities that move us toward our vision. Perhaps, we will say, “Goodbye,” to some things that no longer serve their purpose.

The culture is changing—quickly! As a young pastor, I was certain that United Methodism would last forever. Now, my confidence is fading. In our district, there are 83 churches. Ten of us average over 100 in worship. Only 23 of us average over 50. Ten years from now, we could be a district of 20 churches. I don’t mean to sound all “doom and gloom,” but it’s our reality. Forest Lake can have a strong future.

I believe we will! But, we must move forward efficiently, with excellence, clarity of purpose, and deep commitment to the cause of Christ. We serve a great God who deserves no less!