Giddings-Lovejoy Transitional Presbytery Leader
Rev. Dr. Craig Howard
One of the toughest things about starting up my insurance agency was x-dating. An x-date is a 3×5 card with the information of a potential policyholder, and the date their current insurance expires. This was back in the bad-old-days before caller id, and before all of the rules to keep telemarketers like me from calling! I used a special phone book to call people based upon their zip code. It usually took ten calls to obtain one x-date. This means hearing nine people say “No!” or just hanging up. To start my business I had to have 1500 x-dates! Or in other words, I had to make about 15,000. And I wasn’t done. When the expiration date arrived, I had to call these people again to see if I could give them a quote. 4 out of 10 would say yes. Finally, if the price was right, and they qualified, I could sell 1 or 2 out of 4 of these people a policy. So, it would take 15,000 phone calls to sell 150 to 300 policies. In sales, we call this the numbers game.
The Presbyterian church is using the numbers game when it comes to 1001 New Worshiping Communities (NWC). The idea is to have 1001 NWC by 2020. What the denomination knows is that most of these will not stick. I doubt they know the ratio of how many NWC will develop to become congregations verses those that will not. In Giddings-Lovejoy we have started several NWC and New Church Developments. Some are still active while others have not made it.
The good news about NWC is that they never fail. There is so much to be learned from each experience and each ministry context. We can never call it failure when we risk, because being a people of faith means grasping an invisible hope, and believing an unrealized future based on Jesus Christ. By nature, we are risk takers.
So, how many NWC does it take before one is launched that is sustainable? How many times must we risk our energy and resources, before a NWC takes off and becomes a future church? The answer is yes! Yes, we must keep imagining ministry in different ways. Yes, we must continue our commitment to our future. Yes, we must seek and search for God’s way of meeting the needs of this generation with the gospel in a way that they understand it, and that builds the foundation for the future church.
Rev. Craig M. Howard