September 17, 2019
This year is an important one in the life of Plymouth. Yes. We are celebrating our 150th anniversary, looking back with joy and honesty. Furthermore, we are looking ahead with clear eyes, daring to take stock of who we shall be as a people of faith.
All around us, there are writings on the wall as to the state of the church universal. Many churches are dwindling in membership. Generationally, church attendance tapers dramatically. General confidence in religious institutions is eroding. According to recent Gallup polls, 19% of U.S. adults do not claim a religious affiliation. In addition, of those affiliated, less people than ever reported are members of a faith institution, 64% belonging to a church.
While this may sound like terrible news, it is a chance for Plymouth Church to welcome adaptive change and follow the opportunity at this moment in church history. Let’s look for the “cheese”.
I am referencing the small but insightful book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It is an allegory which offers insight on how to thrive and move when inevitable change happens. Two mice and two “little people” react and respond when the cheese they had relied on is no longer available. Two of them move quickly. The other two hem and haw. However, these insights helped those who dared to respond when there was no cheese:
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.
The Plymouth staff recently read through the book together, challenging ourselves to lead and journey with our congregation in a way that keeps us moving strategically, with agility, listening, and responding. Most importantly, we agreed to following the Spirit of God who always offers a way to wholesome “cheese”, even when there doesn’t appear to be a clear path.
The statistics paint a story. However, they don’t paint the whole story. We cannot force anyone to fit into paradigms that don’t fit them, or even perhaps who we are becoming. However, we can still maintain our integrity and who we are, while honoring that the polls do admit that people still want and need community and to belong.
Let’s start there. There are people needing home, waiting for our embrace, and a ministry that we may not recognize, but that God will ordain. Blessed be.