It is kind of late to be posting for me... so hope this is the right thing to do.
Over the past 3-4 months at Church of the Suncoast we have seen the biggest drop in numbers in our 4 year history. Why? Can't tell ya! Really, we have beat our heads against the wall trying to figure that out and have come up with very little. We have had some people move, like out of the state or country move! We have had just a handful of people move on to other churches which happens. BUT, the bulk of the peeps MIA we just don't know.
This past Tuesday I shared some random thoughts with our staff about where I was at and what I had been able to process over the past few weeks and I think I should share them with you, someone who believes in the Suncoast, or maybe you are a church planter or leader that is in the same boat. So here goes:
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE LAST 3-4 MONTHS
We are NOT the only ones that are down significantly.
I have talked to people from NC to FL and we are not alone in the timing or depth of this dip. A local church near us has had almost an identical trend since Easter.
God IS moving in some locations.
NewSpring and Elevation (two churches who have been influential to us) had over 500+ each accept Christ this past weekend. I also talked to a lead pastor of a local mega-church and they are up 15% at their main location this summer.
I think the economy of our area has been a coming tidal wave that broke on our shores.
It has been building for a while and we knew it was coming but I think the full force hit about Easter to early summer. The community here is largely lower middle class and many leveraged all they had to get into a house here and now they are drowning, or have been swept away to some other place (left and moved). I would guess our community has lost 30% of its population since the peak in 2008.
Our church has been a survivor!
One of the things we have been able to do by God’s help and grace is survive! The senior pastor of local church I talked to said something has to change or they might not be doing this much longer. Other churches that have started near us since we started have closed in the past year. We have survived in what seems to be a really tough area to plant a church. One of the reasons I believe we have survived is because we have committed to tithe back everything that comes in as a church, no matter what, even with things the way they are.
We need to do all we can to build into our current people as the new foundation for the future.
We have been through a few generations of people and have built on that foundation. We also have lost some of those people so I think we need to rally the troops we have and build into them all we can. We are all stretched thin but together lets go the extra mile and love our people, pray for our people, share our knowledge, cast big vision, AND THEN hold them to higher standards as we make the turn out of this season and back into one of growth.
I am more thankful for you guys than ever!
I would not have made it through the past 3 or 4 months without you guys, your hard work, friendship and prayers. Thank you!
Another thing I think God has been leading me to is we as a church need to start a fast for this community... stay tuned for more on that. But, for now hope this helps :-)