Posts

State of the Church

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Each year, in assessing the state of Salem, we take a look at some benchmark statistics. As of the end of 2018 our membership now includes 276 professing adults. We also have 70 baptized infants and children— so 346 total.  This past year 3 members died, and we received 16 new members. That means we have received 130 new members since arriving at our current location a little over eight years ago! Additionally, we have 83 active non-members. So we could say we actually have 429 people who are a part of Salem, however, it’s likely the case that we have an equal amount of our members who are inactive. It’s unfortunate when members become inactive. We have to spend time and energy to help them become active again or to withdraw their membership, since they’re not upholding their membership vows. One of the important things we did this past year was hire more staff, getting the right people in the right positions to lead ministries and people. This was part of our goal to implement a staff r…

An Important Habit for 2019

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I need to tell you the end of the story. For our worship series in December, Nine Months, we read through the entirety of Luke chapter 1 and almost all of the second chapter. We heard about the angel, Gabriel, visiting the old priest, and the young virgin, telling them they would soon have babies. We heard about John the Baptist’s birth, Jesus’ birth, the angelic announcement to the shepherds, and the presentation of Jesus in the temple, where Simeon and Anna, faithful people waiting expectantly for God to act, shared in the joy of Jesus’ birth. Now here is the rest of the story in Luke’s second chapter. Once, when Jesus was twelve years old, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. They did this each year. When the celebration was over and they started for home, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know. They thought he was with their group of travelers, but when they couldn’t find him after the first day of their journey, they frantically raced…

This Is Where We're Headed

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Our Leadership Board intentionally sets Salem’s direction each year. They shared our goals for 2019 with our annual Church Conference on October 29 and were subsequently approved. Therefore, this is where we are headed next year: First, we want to improve the Discipleship Pathway to engage people more, specifically to worship, connect, serve, and share their faith with others. Second, we want to create and implement an intentional plan for hospitality, serving as Christ's ambassadors to invite, welcome, and connect people into the life of the church. Third, we want to create and implement a strategy for growth of the congregation. The reality is, if we do not grow, we will decline. Fourth, we want to create and implement a strategy for intentional funding of the ministry, including another three-year capital campaign. You might notice that paying our apportionments is no longer one of our goals as it has been in the last several years. This continues to be an expectation of our congreg…

Do the Math (A Meeting at the Kitchen Table)

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The book of Exodus tells the story about building the Tabernacle, the sanctuary for God’s presence to dwell. The people whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were willing brought their offerings for the Tabernacle and all its service. The people kept bringing their offerings every morning until the workers told Moses the people had given more than enough to complete the work the Lord had commanded. So Moses told the people they had given enough. In fact, they needed to stop giving because there was too much. The people had to be restrained from giving more! (Exodus 25, 35, 36) This story exemplifies generous giving to God’s kingdom. Unfortunately, it also shines a glaring light on our unfaithfulness with money. Charitable giving has remained stuck in our country at 2% for nearly fifty years, ever since we started measuring it in the 1970s. That accurately reflects the average giving in The United Methodist Church, too. The problem, of course, is that 2% is a far cry from scripture…

Human Sexuality: A Way Forward in The United Methodist Church

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Recently, we hosted Bishop Laurie Haller and the East Central District. 215 people came to hear about the official proposal going before the specially-called General Conference in February 2019 about our way forward as United Methodists. Currently, The United Methodist Church declares that all are welcome and all individuals are of sacred worth but the practice of homosexuality (not homosexual people themselves) is incompatible with Christian scripture and tradition. Further, the church prevents clergy from officiating at same-sex unions, teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, and prohibits the ordination of self-professed practicing homosexuals. Not everyone agrees with this position and want it changed. Therefore, some have broken our covenant as an act of defiance or justice by marrying same-sex persons. Further, some annual conferences have ordained LGBT persons. This debate around human sexuality has been waged, really, since the first General Conference in 1972 after …

A Simple Method for Making New Disciples

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I recently returned home from the School of Congregational Development in San Diego. One of the plenary speaks was Pastor Sam Yun, who is starting a church in the northern California Bay Area called Embrace (www.embracechurch.org). 
I felt a bit of a kinship with Pastor Sam, or P. Sam as his congregation calls him. He’s a church planter like me. He’s a fourth generation pastor. So like me, he grew up as a PK, a perfect kid. No, it stands for “pastor’s kid.” His dad is also retired, and like me, much of what he knows in ministry is from first watching his dad. Unlike me, he said his dad is quite the SOB…son of a bishop, that is. P. Sam’s grandfather was a bishop of the Methodist church in Korea. As a preacher he was incredibly powerful. As a bishop he was scary; he was very strict in his episcopal leadership. But to P. Sam, he was just his grandfather whom he loved, who would sneak ice cream with him. His great-grandfather was the first generation pastor in this family. Somewhere around 1…

Adding Staff and Growing

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We have been reorganizing our leadership structure and adding Staff this year. So far we have a new Director of Discipleship (Tim King) and a new Worship Coordinator (Jodi Anderson). We have more positions we’re working on, as well (Service Coordinator, Youth Director, Community Ambassador). In the meantime, our leaders have heard a few questions about whether we should be doing this when currently we’re not fully “in the black,” financially. This is a good inquiry and deserves an answer. One of our major goals the last two years, and we’ve talked about it for longer than that, has been to implement a staff reorganization to get the right leaders around the table to lead people and ministries to carry out our mission to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world. These are also the areas we identified before our building project as being most important. Back in 2011 our Study Committee spent time researching for our building project and met with leaders to discuss Salem’…