A Note From Pastor Aaron

Thank you.

No, really.  Thank you.

Seriously.  I can’t thank you enough.

Why? Because of what you and all the partners of Central did in what will a be a year like no other.  A year ago, if you would have told me that we would not meet for in person worship for nine months, I would have laughed you out of the room.  But then covid hit. And what a year it was.

And through the year, Central partners, one after another, week after week, stepped up and we continued to be on God’s mission no matter how uncertain everything became.  Through your generosity and faithfulness, we continued to leverage our influence in our city and we continued to show our community that we were #ForChippewa.

Again, thank you.

So what about 2021?  You probably have more questions than I have answers as to what this year is going to look like for us and for your church.  The biggest challenge for your staff and the leadership is planning.  Jon Acuff summarizes what planning in a pandemic is like, especially for churches.  He says, “Planning three days out feels firm.  Three weeks out feels fuzzy. And three months out feels like fiction.” 

But I want to share with you some disruptive church trends that will rule 2021.  Author and church leadership guru, Carey Nieuwhof, believes that there are 8 trends that will truly disrupt Central this year, and I want to share with you three things that I believe will be so important for Central to focus in on.  You can read his full article HERE.

The Majority Of Attenders May No Longer Be In The Room.  Church attendance was in decline prior to covid and all the pandemic has done is speed up the decline.  I do not expect our worship attendance to magically jump back to pre-covid numbers.  I believe it will be very slow, painstakingly slow at times.  

This simply means that we need to staff and resource our online worship the same as we do for in person worship.  It’s going to be a must.  We need to understand that someone watching from their lake home up north “counts just as much as those who are attending” our worship in our building.  

Nieuwof puts it this way, "The number of people participating in the mission who are not in the building (read “at Central Lutheran) on a Sunday will surpass the number of people participating in the mission inside the building (at Central Lutheran).”

We must think differently about Central. Central will ALWAYS still be around and in Chippewa Falls.  Central will still be around.  It’s just that we have left the building.

Central Lutheran MUST Shift Our Focus From Gathering To Connecting.  For centuries, the church believed that “if you build, the people will come.”  That’s to say, build a church, post the times that you are gathering on a sign out front, and people will come.  Simple!  That isn’t happening anymore.  In fact, it hasn’t happened that way for the past 25 years.  And yet, churches (including Central) still think and operate as if that were the case.  

If in December of 2021, Central’s strategy for connecting and helping people grow in their personal faith is still, “come to our church at this set location and at this set hour, then we will have dropped the ball.  

“Gathering people on Sunday mornings will be as important as ever. It just won’t all happen in a building owned by the church.”

Some Churches Will Try To Fill Rooms While Other Churches Will Focus On Fulfilling The Mission.  This one is simple!  Our mission is to be a church that is #ForChippewa. And we need to be laser focused on what it means to be a church that unchurched people love to attend (both online and in person).     

That’s the mission we are on. And it’s not our mission.  It’s God’s mission.  

So again, if Central only focuses on opening for the sake of filling our building, we will miss the work that God has called us to.  I like the way Nieuwhof put it, “If the size of your vision shrinks to the size of a room you can fill, you’ve missed the church’s mission.”

I am excited for this new year.  I’m excited to partner with you and to stay focused on God’s mission for us.  

Stay safe and stay well,

Pastor Aaron

1 Comment

Anne Keller - February 8th, 2021 at 7:41pm

We (Central/Chippewa Falls/the entire Christian community) is really fortunate to have a young(ish), enthusiastic and forward-looking pastor during this vulnerable and earth-changing, culture-changing time.

Don't look back.

Anne Keller