Before a church can address where it needs to go, it must first reflect on where it has been and where it currently stands. (I addressed the "where have we been question" on Sunday and the sermon can be listened to at hardinsburgbc.org.) Another way I like to label the "where do we currently stand" question is "what keeps me up at night" because there are certain current challenges at HBC that I believe, if not adequately addressed, will result in less than optimal results for God's Kingdom. Thus, I sometimes lose sleep reflecting on these challenges because I fear our church suffering decline. So, what keeps me up at night when reflecting on HBC?
1. Our Continual Need to Grow Our Volunteer Base
At last year's 2015 State of the Church Address, I declared that HBC had a volunteer crisis; we did not have enough volunteers to perform the ministries needed to adequately reach our city. After a year of emphasizing volunteering, I am thankful to say that we no longer face a volunteer crisis. BUT, we do continue to face a volunteer challenge. I lose sleep when I think about volunteers at HBC because if we do not continue to grow our volunteer base, our ability to do ministry will suffer.
2. A Lack of A Group Life Structure for those Under 40
I might be wrong about this one, but I strongly believe that the traditional Sunday School model does not appeal to the majority of thsos under 40. This is a problem because HBC's primary discipleship and community structure is Sunday School. If those under the age of 40 are not interested in Sunday School, how can we expect this age bracket to be discipled and experience Biblical community? If those within this age bracket are not being discipled and experiencing Biblical community, the likelihood they grow in their faith is drastically decreased. Along with that, there is an increased chance they leave HBC.
3. The Safety of HBC
No person in any small town can no longer say, "That won't happen here." The sad reality is that mass crime can happen anywhere there is a group of people unprepared and not protected. HBC must continue to take steps in order to increase the safety of those attending and participating in the activities of the church.
4. The Continuous Instability of Our Economy
In 2008, churches everywhere saw a significant decrease in giving due to the recession. Our economy continues to be unstable. My hope is that HBC would be financially stable enough to function efficiently through another significant recession. Lack of money results in lack of ministry.
5. Are people meeting Jesus?
The bottom line is that we are failing as a church if people are not meeting Jesus and increasing in their desire and ability to love God, love neighbor, and love self. Numbers one through four on this list are ultimately incomplete if people are not coming to know Jesus through the work and ministry of HBC.
Tomorrow, I will address steps I believe HBC can take in order to address these challenges.
Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and currently serves as senior pastor of Hardinsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry.