I’m writing about a matter of urgency and great importance to our church family. I hope that you will take the time to read this letter in its entirety.
Over the past year our Construction Oversight Committee (COC) has been working diligently on getting plan approvals for our Family Life Center renovations and Worship Center construction. We have selected a General Contractor for the project, and are very close to receiving final approvals from the city. In addition, we have been in conversation with a number of lenders to put financing into place.
At this point we have run into an unexpected obstacle with respect to our financing that has put the project on hold through the spring. Interestingly, the problem has to do with a downward trend in our attendance, a measurement of church health that banks and other lending institutions take seriously.
What accounts for the downtick? In the past few years, a number of our members and families have moved away from Simi Valley, many of them out of state. Other members have become empty-nesters who, no longer tied to staying in town by children who are still in school, spend more of their weekends on getaways. What that means is that families who were in worship 3-4 weekends a month may now attend just once or twice a month. In addition to these two groups, we also have some members and families who love our church and who consider StoneBridge their church home but who, for whatever reason, miss being in worship more often than not.
While it may seem that our worship attendance only affects us, our presence or absence in worship has repercussions that impact our entire church family and our goal to reach our community for Christ. It is ironic, but nonetheless important, that secular, financial institutions clearly recognize the importance of worship attendance in ways that may not have occurred to us.
Our Session, pastors, staff, and other leaders are committed to doing all that we can to turn this downward trend around. But it will take all of us— and most especially our members and attenders— for us to succeed.
I am writing to encourage you to make attendance at worship a top priority in the coming months. The people who will choose whether or not to finance our project will be looking closely at our attendance trends. You and your family’s presence in worship can make a real, a lasting, and even an eternal difference.
I also want to invite you to take a risk, step outside of your comfort zone, and invite those you know to worship as well. Next week we’ll be starting a new, family-focused series called Rabbi Jesus: How Godly Traditions Can Bless Our Lives and Make the World a Better Place. The week after Easter we’re launching an inspiring, practical series called Become the Me You Want to Be.
I am writing to you knowing that our church family has always risen to the occasion when informed about a mission-critical need. This is a defining moment in the life of our church. I hope that I can count on you and your family, and I look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend, and often, in the weeks and months ahead.
Your friend in Christ,