June 14, 2022 Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church

Revitalization by David

Revitalization by David

Back on Saturday, May 21st, a group of 35 people met in Centennial Hall to participate in a two-hour “revitalization” meeting to reflect on helping our church find a pathway to a vital future. There were six categories of discussion where we spent time brainstorming ideas or observations related to these areas of our church’s ministry: Finance, Trustees, SPPR (Staffing), Mission & Outreach, Music & Worship, and Small Groups. 

Erin has provided a wonderful and accurate summary of all the presentations and inputs received from the day in our weekly announcement email. Here is the link to access it. Follow the blue arrow at right to scroll through the entire list. As I think about revitalizing this church family, and as I scrub my way through the list of feedback, here are some things I noticed and some convictions I’ve formed:


Confusion and uncertainty are our traveling companions. Our lists tell me we don’t have targeted, prioritized clarity about final answers, only more questions, unresolved frustrations, guesses and hoped-for better days.

The status quo has changed and we are now half of what we used to be. We are teetering on the brink of moving from church to chaplaincy. This is like moving from growing to dormant.

Financing – How can we become more entrepreneurial and utilize our campus to make money for our ministry? Our budget has shrunk and will continue to shrink in the near future. Unless we adjust appropriately now, we will be in crisis mode again next year.

Trustees – Our church should finish the Narthex expansion project, upgrade Centennial Hall, and embrace the three “C”’s of Concerts, Community organizations, and Cooperative shared space. Our facility might be too much church for just one small church. Rented shared space, or merged congregations, can do more together!

Staffing – Older demographic churches always have more paid employees. But dollars, at the end of the day, pay all the bills. We must honestly assess our staff size to our church size, using “industry standards” (norms) for “FTEs” (Full Time Equivalents) for differing congregational sizes. Utilizing more volunteers is always key to running and sustaining vital, functional, stable ministry.

Mission & Outreach – This church has always had “boots in the game.” Tarmac Christians love to embrace action and engage in aiding assistance. UMCOR has been used by this church family as an advance agency through which we can touch a hurting world. The Haven, SPiN Café, and Help House share the same genetic code with our church family. We should strengthen what we are already good at and celebrate that more visibly. A timely large rallying point (like Ukrainian relief) is always a popular victory for us.

Music & Worship – We are still not fully settled on where to land with a repertoire (and interests/preferences) that include both modern and traditional genres. Perhaps having one “full-on-traditional” communion service per month will be the solution (a happy medium)? We certainly all love more musical and vocal participation up front and will be benefited by more depth and texture of such an approach (especially with more male voices added in).

Small Groups – This was the category that received the least amount of ideas or feedback, maybe because it was at the end of the morning session. The truth is, nothing can replace the integrative depth that is found in accountable, relational discipleship, and most of our people are not in small groups or classes where that happens. This is where we begin to look more like a chaplaincy and less like a church. How can we reengage everyone?


I realize that much of this is not what we would like to call, “positive, cheery news!” But a leader’s most important task is to set what is truly before us with candor and honesty. American businessman and writer, and now famous leadership guru Max De Pree put it this way: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” My friends, fellow members and followers of Jesus Christ, “what will we do with this new, post-covid reality?” That is a question that should matter to all of us. I hope you will join me in wrestling our future to the ground, with prayer, participation, and obedient engagement of our Lord’s mission to reach the world!

“Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?” (Ezekiel 37:3 GNT)

-- Pastor David