Edgerton Wesleyan Church is an interesting case study. When I came to the church to simply "fill in" a few Sundays here and there in the fall of 2002, the worship attendance was in the mid-50's. The church had been in decline for a number of years. A rural church located near declining communities, there wasn't a lot of hope for growth. I filled in for a couple of months and then signed on as the interim pastor through the spring of 2003. Then God made it clear He wanted my family and I to stay. When I met with the church board to express my concerns about whether or not they'd be willing to make the changes necessary to their survival, one board member summed it up: "If we don't change, we'll be closed in five years." What an exciting prospect!
Our worship attendance is regularly over 100 these days, and in the month of August we averaged 128. We've set two all-time attendance records in the church's history this year: Easter @ 181, and Vacation Bible School program @ 168.
What has been the secret? I'll simply list what I think have been the key ingredients and if you are interested in commenting, we can flesh them out. Here goes:
1. A commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission in the spirit of the Great Commandment.
2. A missional approach to ministry.
3. A willingness to shut things down that don't work and start new.
4. Standing firm in the face of opposition to #3.
5. Moving outside our comfort zone.
6. Getting ministry into the hands of the people instead of having the pastor do it all.
These are some of our key moves. God has been faithful as we've trusted Him to lead us each step of the way.