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The Spring at Forest Hill

I think it is safe to say that Spring has sprung.  All the signs are there and everyone has t-shirts and shorts at the ready to enjoy the wonderful outdoors.  There is something about the sun that draws us to it.  Maybe, it is that house bound feeling that we long to be free from or maybe, there is a certain excitement of being alive when we are outside and warmed by the sun.  Whatever it is, we love it and it shows.
Over the last couple of weeks we have being doing a stewardship campaign.  It is what would be considered a soft sell.  By that I mean, the stewardship guys have shared in a lighthearted way the needs of the congregations and have gently encouraged everyone to increase their support to meet those financial needs.

It looks like people are responding and it is gratifying to see how excited folks are to be able to respond positively.  I think, when we hear about concrete needs like the increased utility costs or the monthly food bank challenge, it draws us out just like the sun into the warmth of giving.  There is something about our faith and grace- freely given to us by God -that calls us to respond with equal joy.  I also see that when folks respond they feel good about  themselves and this community that they have chosen to join.

Not everyone can respond to these financial needs and many people want more from their relationship with the church.  How can we do something about this?  Well, a number of us went to an event in Guelph that introduced us to the work of Rev. Dr. John Pentland who ministers with Hillhurst United in Calgary.  When Rev. John went there, the membership didn’t see much  future in the church.  In fact they outright told him that he would probably be their last minister “so do whatever you want.”  Rev. John began to ask for a number of small changes that added up to a big difference.

The small changes he put into a book called, “Fishing Tips” and our group got to hear about some of those tips. One such tip that I want to share is this: 20% of any organization does 80% of the work.  Which means 80% of the people stand on the margins of these organizations.  The big problem is that  eventually the 20% burn out from carrying the load and the folks on the  margins don’t feel that they have the gifts or skills to help in any meaningful way.
What Rev. John suggests and I would like to try here at Forest Hill United  is to move folks from ‘The Outside – In.’  If you are an insider, you know one of the 20% doing a lot.  Please invite one more person to help you do whatever you are passionately doing in the church.  If every insider did that then in the space of one year 40% of our people would be doing 80% of the work.  In two years 80% of the people would be doing 80% of the work and in three years every single person in the whole church would be personally invited into sharing the work and joy of the community.
Imagine how much freer, more appreciated and supported all the core leaders would be in less than three years.  Imagine someone coming to you and  asking you to share a small part in the ministries of Forest Hill where your  personal gifts and skills can be appreciated and grown.  It would be like the sun calling you into the joy and excitement of community participation.

This means that if you ever felt called into a central leadership position that you would never feel like you were stuck holding the bag.  Instead, you would be supported and connected to the whole congregation.  It is no surprise that with small changes like this Hillhurst United went from being on death’s door to being the most thriving and every member engaged congregation in Calgary.
So in the year ahead, I propose that we start doing ministry from the Outside – In.  If you are not presently engaged in a ministry here at Forest Hill don’t be surprised if someone taps you on the shoulder and invites you in. I encourage you to say yes and enjoy the ‘Son’ shine.

Peace, Gary