April 30, 2016
A Church Vision Sermon (originally entitled “You and Me: An Architectural Masterpiece”)
Sometimes you’re so close to something that you lose sight of the bigger picture. That certainly happens at time with church. We get into our “zoomed-in” patterns, habits and social circles. So, in this talk, I wanted the great people who make up Glendale City Church to zoom out and see where we’re heading as a congregation.
If you’re a member of Glendale City Church, I hope you’ll listen to this sermon. If you’re not a member, I hope that maybe getting acquainted with our story and listening to the journey we’re on may motivate you to jump on board with us. Or, if you’re involved with another church, maybe it can help your brainstorming for the mission of your congregation.
Some background and context to this sermon; and an additional appeal to what was made in the sermon:
- Glendale City Church thrived during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in a community that had a large Adventist population base. Because our church had a reputation for great music and great preaching, we were guaranteed to have a large attendance. Since the 80’s, the Adventist base declined precipitously and our church’s attendance mirrored that decline. Thanks to visionary, progressive pastoral leadership in the 80’s and 90’s we saw some growth as our church attracted Adventists who didn’t fit in other Adventist congregations. Our church has thrived for 110 years because we created a great village for Adventists
- Now we are at the end of the Adventist base providing new generations of church members at Glendale City Church. Our congregational future depends on us creating a new village that provides the spiritual support and inspiration, the communal friendship and compassionate service that the people of the city of Glendale need now. People, more than ever, need a village. But the village they need today does not look like the village we have been.
- Beyond not having an Adventist base to draw from, we now live in a culture where newer generations don’t value church attendance because they perceive church as irrelevant, at best, or detrimental, at worst, to their pursuit of meaning, purpose and happiness. To be an Adventist-Christian church in a post-Adventist, post-Christian city means we have a lot of work to do
- In order for us to create a village for the people who now live in our city, we have to listen to them, get to know them, build relationships with them and speak their language. Building a village for our neighbors requires us to invite them to join us in the creative visioning of what the village will look like and partner with us in the actual building process. That means we invite people who don’t identify with labels from the past being welcomed in to the village of the present. This requires openness, flexibility and great patience for those of us who represent the flickering vestiges of a great Adventist community. It’s not easy. Not everyone can do it. But more than almost any other Adventist congregation, I believe that the members of Glendale City Church can. We have amazing people here who are full of grace and open-minded. We can do this!