We might rather not ask them. After all, hard questions can lead to hard conversations, hard realizations, hard decisions, hard work, and hard answers. But, asking hard questions is something a leader might have to do, even if done with reluctance and at a potential cost.
Such was the case at Twin Lakes Church. At the annual congregational meeting back in December of 2016, I asked those present, with the support of the installed consistory at that time, a hard question: “What is the future of Twin Lakes Church?” The answers I received were about what I had expected―a lot of silence and a lot of blank stares.
The question asked is one I think many in the church family had already been asking themselves, and each other. Dwindling worship attendance and occasional challenged financial resources were as obvious to them as they were to me. But, at least the question had been asked aloud and those present were assured that leadership was aware of the situation and had begun a journey of exploring options.
The consistory had empowered me to do just that: explore options. As I did, it became more and more clear that there just weren’t that many for us to consider. I was hoping to find another church with which we could partner and share ministry together. I discussed with the consistory some of the pros and cons of such a partnership, and I made them aware that if such a partnership were to be realized, whether or not I would be part of it would be uncertain, and even unlikely. My security, however, could be neither their primary concern, nor mine. Of primary concern needed to be what is best for the Kingdom and living into God’s future for TLC. The consistory unanimously agreed that through partnering with another church, the ministry at TLC could be more effective for the Kingdom. Even when considering some of the potential cost to TLC such an arrangement might include (e.g., change of name, loss of some members, moving to a different location, stepping aside for new leadership, forfeiting some things considered normal and comfortable, etc.) the potential pain of doing something was preferred over the potential pain of doing nothing.
The leadership at TLC was ready to move forward, but with whom? That question began getting answered through a conversation over the telephone I had with Jeff Wenke, Lead Pastor at The Bridge. It was suggested to me that The Bridge Church was at a place in its lifecycle and ministry that might be positioned and ready to do something, and so I called Jeff one day and asked him a potentially hard question, which was in essence, “What might it look like of The Bridge Church and Twin Lakes Church do something in ministry together?” That question gave birth to many meetings, conversations, honest assessment, decisions, and much prayer. For me personally, the process that ensued has given new and deeper meaning to many things, not the least of which include living by faith, self-denial, sacrifice, and risky obedience. For me personally, asking that initial hard question blossomed into a much deeper spiritual journey that I had expected.
Although many are saddened and disappointed by it, the decision has been made that the final worship service at Twin Lakes Reformed Church will be held, Lord willing, on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. The good news, however, is that The Bridge Church plans to launch a new church and ministry at the present site of Twin Lakes Church sometime in the fall of 2018 with the Rev. Philip Rose as its pastor. Sometimes things do have to die so that new things can begin. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “There is a season for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die. . .” (3:1-2a).
“What is the future of Twin Lakes Church?” The future of its season of ministry as an organized church is that it will be concluding. However, the legacy it has begun will be carried on through the season of ministry of a new church. The future of the site that is now home to TLC is bright, exciting, and pregnant with possibilities for ministry for the sake of the Kingdom!
Asking the question back in December of 2016 had me “shaking in my boots” a bit, but I’m grateful to the TLC leadership at the time for their support of asking it, and I’m grateful to God for the courage to have actually asked it. Asking hard questions can sometimes lead to hope-filled answers. Maybe there’s one you should be asking!
As we at Twin Lakes Church travel together through this unfamiliar season, may I ask you to please pray? Please pray for all those who comprise our church family, some of whom are elderly and have never known another church home. Pray for wisdom, patience, understanding, comfort, and peace. Please pray for the current leadership at TLC and for our supervisor, the Rev. Dave Armstrong. Pray for wisdom, strength (physical, mental, and spiritual), ongoing courage, and attention to detail. Please pray for me as I candidate with other churches and seek God’s leading as to where and how He will have me serve Him next. Also, please pray for the Rev. Jeff Wenke, the Rev. Philip Rose, the Launch Team of the new church that has been formed and has already begun meeting, and for all those who will be led by God to be part of the new beginning at what is now Twin Lakes Reformed Church.
To God be the glory!
Ron Lugten, Pastor
Twin Lakes Reformed Church