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Sundays @ 10a

The Spirit-Led Church | August 18, 2016 
Behind The Curtain At The Spirit-Led Church

Raylene Ewing, RScP, Ministry Assistant email

A church is many things. It is a community. It is a business. And it is a ministry. You already know what it means for a church to be a community. You come to church, see your friends, sing, play and eat together. You also know what it means for a church to be a business. It will not surprise you that Unity of Tacoma has insurance, bylaws, membership in a parent organization, and a board of trustees. But, you probably do not really understand what it means for a church to be a ministry. You experience ministry at Unity of Tacoma in the form of Sunday services, spiritual classes, pastoral counseling and chaplain prayer, but that’s only one side of the coin.

I am going to take you on a short tour “behind the curtain” at Unity of Tacoma. Meaning, I am going to show you the side of ministry only your minster usually sees. Going behind the curtain is a big deal! Ministers are very selective about who comes behind the curtain. Only emotionally responsible, spiritually mature congregants are invited. Many of you have peeked behind the curtain when you sat on the Board of Trustees, worked as the lead on a ministry project or became an employee of Unity of Tacoma. But many of you haven’t seen behind the curtain at Unity of Tacoma, so put on your leadership hat, take a moment to center your heart in Love, and hop on the tram. Let the tour begin!

First Stop: Church Size Theory
Unity of Tacoma is a family congregation in a transitional or program building. Unless, like your minister, you’ve studied Church Size Theory, that sentence makes no sense to you. But to Rev. David that sentence contains important information that impacts how he leads the church.  Church Size Theory tells Rev. David our building is two to three stages removed from our current congregational needs. Take a look at this chart:

Family Sized Church

<76 Average Sunday Attendance

Our congregation is here

Pastoral Sized Church

76-140 ASA

Transitional Sized Church

141-224 ASA

Our sanctuary is here (1 service)

Program Sized Church

225-800 ASA

…or here (2 services)

Resource Sized Church

800+ ASA

You can easily place Unity of Tacoma as a family congregation in a transitional or program building now that you see the numbers, right? See what I mean when I say our building is two to three stages removed from our congregation?  Church Size Theory is more complex than just finding your congregation on the chart, but this is only a quick tour. If you’ll get back on the tram, I’ll show you something else your minister sees about Unity of Tacoma that you probably don’t.

Second Stop: The Lifecycle of a Church
Did you even know churches have a lifecycle? Your minister does. He thinks about it all the time. The lifecycle of a church is very much the same as the lifecycle of a person. Take a look at this graphic:

Can you place Unity of Tacoma on this graph? Here’s a hint: We’re 60 years old. Rev. David has been at Unity of Tacoma for ten years. Can you see on the graph where he came in?

That’s right. In ministry parlance Unity of Tacoma is a dying church, and we have been since before David was hired.  To add just a little more complexity, when a new minister comes into a church, there’s a whole other timeline to consider. If a minister lasts longer than the average three years, it takes another four to hit the seven year itch, and another three to come out the other side with a solid marriage of minister-congregation. 

In short, not only does Rev. David know we are a dying church, he knew it when he said yes to this pulpit ten years ago. Are you sorry you came behind the curtain yet?  Well, hang tight because this isn’t the end of the ride.

Third Stop: Strategic Planning for Congregations
Did you notice the purple words in the center of the lifecycle graph-- the ones beginning with R?  Look where Unity of Tacoma is in relation to those. We’re right on the cusp between Revitalize and Redevelop.  So which one will it be? From where I’m standing, we’re looking at revitalizing. Why do I think that? Because we’re already doing it! Our minister has been nudging us in that direction for the past ten years, and just this year (right on schedule!) we seem to have overcome every single resistance and barrier to that.

I think congratulations are in order! So, congratulations to the congregation of Unity of Tacoma, you have done a lot of growing over the past ten years. Oh. Did you think I was going to congratulate Rev. David? Nope. He saw all this coming when he signed the contract. Ten years ago he knew we’d be in one of two places right now: chains on the doors, or revitalizing. The only reason we are revitalizing is because you, the congregation of Unity of Tacoma, stepped up to the plate by developing your leadership skills, working together as a community, and expanding your consciousness.

There are many more steps for us to take on the path to revitalization. We will probably need to be in a temporary site suited to our current congregation before ultimately settling into a more permanent situation. If you look at the chart, you see it can take up to three years to revitalize. I suspect it will take all of that for Unity of Tacoma to blossom into its potential. But, just wait until you see what Rev. David is planning in 2017! Amazing things are happening at Unity of Tacoma right now, and you’re going to want to be a part of it.

That concludes your tour behind the curtain, but as I deliver you back to the familiarity and comfort of the sanctuary, let me state once again, the success of Unity of Tacoma is due to your willingness to grow in leadership and deepen in consciousness. The continued success of Unity of Tacoma will be determined by your willingness to continue on this conscious spiritual path. In order to truly be a Spirit-led church, we must all continue to invite Spirit to lead!

You do not need to know about Church Size Theory. You do not need to know about the lifecycle of a church. You do not need to know about strategic planning for congregations. Your minister has that covered for you. You only need to know this: Your support matters. Your prayers matter. Your consciousness matters. It is your consciousness that has brought us to this path of revitalization, and it is your consciousness that will carry us down that Spirit-led path.

Please continue to pray for Unity of Tacoma and its Board of Trustees. It makes a difference when you do. When you sit down for your daily dedicated spiritual practice, add a prayer for the Board, or read this affirmative prayer each evening before you retire:

“Because the Unity of Tacoma Board of Trustees has said yes to being Spirit-led, with the fullness of my being I join my consciousness with theirs in saying yes to Unity of Tacoma as a Spirit-led church. I know there is a complete and immediate healing of any barriers to Unity of Tacoma being a Spirit-led church. I stand in Unity with the Board of Trustees, accepting the guidance of Spirit in all matters of church governance.  Because Spirit is leading Unity of Tacoma, I therefore know we are going in a direction that is for the highest Good of all. Inasmuch as Unity of Tacoma has said yes to being a Spirit-led church, I know the Universe has come into agreement with this sacred covenant and Unity of Tacoma is fully supported in its mission, vision, and all business conducted by the Board. I speak these words in gratitude for a friendly Universe. Knowing this prayer is a declaration of Truth, I release these words to Spirit, knowing all unfolds with Ease and Grace.”

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