Happy New Year! As each year goes by, it’s nice to take a moment and think about where we have come from and what our goals are for the new year.
Where have we come from?
Zion has had another busy year! The building committee has been hard at work refining, debating, and studying the building drawings for the west expansion. They have met with Laborers for Christ both in conference calls and in person. In October, the voters approved beginning fundraising efforts. Those efforts have just begun, but already folks have been very generous!
Regarding spiritual care, it’s been a busy year there, too. We have been overjoyed to receive 12 people into God’s family by means of baptism during 2018! We thank God that we confirmed 16 saints of God into communion fellowship here at Zion. 2 of them were adults! In addition to all that, we saw 3 weddings and 17 deaths during the year. The ministry at Zion touches a lot of lives!
Outside the congregation, we are blessed for opportunities to serve in our community and region. Did you know Pastor Grimmer was elected as a pastoral counselor for the South Dakota District LWML this year? And Pastor Brown is circuit visitor for the region extending from Huron to Winner?
To date, we have 360 households under the spiritual care of Zion, which is 777 members. We certainly have some work to do, as only 586 attended worship (and filled out a card) during the last year.
Where are we going?
With so much going on around us, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important things. That is just as true in the church as it is anywhere else in life.
As I often say, what we do at Zion isn’t supposed to work. The world tells us we need to continue to twist and bend to the whims of our world. The world says that to grow we need to not just be forgiving of sexual immorality, but affirming of it. The world says that to grow we need to focus less on historic Christianity and more on insights into sociology.
We don’t do that. And yet, we continue to grow, or at least hold our own
Here is why I think that is true: Zion is the largest non-Roman Catholic church in town that is dedicated to confessional, traditional worship and teaching. I believe that – more than anything – this is our biggest strength. Our identity is found in Jesus, not in the cool fad of the day. Our teachings come from the Word of God, not the words of the world. Our style of worship and education is timeless. It has truly stood the test of many centuries of time.
The great temptation of a church today is to bend to the will of the world, and to give itching ears what they want to hear. The temptation is there because the devil is also there, telling church leaders that such “flexibility” will bring in the numbers. But according to demographic research, the more flexible, loose, and liberal a denomination’s teachings, the faster their decline. Sure, there are anecdotal examples of individual congregations that beat the odds for a while. Usually, that involves a cult of personality – and when the personality leading the church leaves, so do the people. It is churches like ours that are not built on personalities, but on the solid, unchanging Word of God that have stood and will continue to stand the test of time.
How will we get there?
There is one metric that does not show significant, measured growth: financial giving. While we continue to hold our own, our offerings are not keeping pace with our membership growth.
Here is a graph I included in the letter to our donors. Let me first say I am incredibly humbled by the generosity of so many people! And yet we have room for improvement.
|$0.01 – $500
|$501 – $1,000
|$1,001 – $2,500
|$2,501 – $5,000
|$5,001 – $10,000
|Memorials etc. not shown
Consider this: The US Census Bureau estimates that the average household income in our zip code is right around $50,000. Assuming our members are something like the average, if every household increased their support by 1% of their income, that would be an increase of over $126,000. If we all increase our giving by even a small amount, it will pay off in a huge way in our budget. If you are already supporting generously, then please accept our big-hearted thanks for your incredible generosity!
Did you know that our electronic offerings are almost 20% of our budget? If you’d like information on how to support Zion through electronic giving, bequests, or even from your IRA, please talk to Doug Nelson, one of the pastors, or the church office.
Where are we right now?
As we give thanks to God for 126 years of ministry at Zion, humanly speaking, we are blessed to trust that we have many years ahead of us. But whatever happens, we know how the story ends. Christ has already won the victory. We literally can’t lose! Happy 2019!