Statistics in Worship?

Posted on January 31st, 2011

Enough statistics ABOUT worship; how about statistics IN worship? Sound crazy? Maybe. But maybe not.

At a recent chaotic and unfocused council meeting, my associate pastor Peter Surran offered a litany of year-end notes and statistics.  And by litany I don't mean a seemingly endless list of otherwise forgettable items.  I mean an actual litany, a meaningful act of worship.

Interspersed with statements of gratitude, the responsive litany he had constructed reached back to 1794 to talk about the origins of the congregation as one of the early Methodist circuits.  It lifted up recent history to remind us of how the church expanded in the last decade.  Then it listed average Sunday worship attendance, the financial status, current mission commitments and, yes, even the staff positions.  And to think I cursed those same statistics as I sent them off to the general church.

I'm asking Peter to revise the litany for use with the whole congregation.  I really appreciate his natural gift for teaching and communication.  It's a challenge to communicate in a congregation with sprawling schedules and multiple ministries.  A common lament (here NOT understood as a liturgical event) is: "I didn't know that was going on at Franktown."  But Peter's litany neatly places information that we usually consider extraneous to worship squarely in that context.  Not as a source of debate or contention.  But as a focus for our gratitude and intercessions.

Now he's got me thinking.  What other parts of pastoral administration deserve a new forum in worship?  An act of repentance for building needs?  A prayer of confession for my accountable reimbursement plan?  Nursery staffing as an altar call?  The possibilities are endless and not all so absurd.

Consider the litany composed by Peter Surran for use in our worship at Franktown (Leader and All):

 

L:  In 1794, Franktown Church began as Floyd’s Society

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what has been 

L:  In 1894, the present sanctuary was built

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what has been 

L:  In 2001, the church was expanded

A:  Thank you, Lord for what has been 

L:  Today there are 518 members, 175 people in worship, and 87 people in Sunday school.

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  There are seven people on staff, including two pastors, a music director, a director of discipleship and visitation, two sextons, and an administrative assistant

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  At the end of 2010, the church met all of its financial obligations

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  Our church feeds the hungry through our Food Bank ministry and Wednesday night dinners

A: Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  Our church provides assistance to those in need through the Agape fund

A: Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  Our church sponsors missionaries in the Congo and supports other outreach initiatives like Shelter 2.0.

A:  Thank you, Lord, for what is

L:  Our church adopted a new mission statement in 2010

A:  The mission of Franktown United Methodist Church is to love and glorify God, to love and serve our neighbors, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 

L:  We look forward to the ways God will guide us towards fulfilling our mission

A:  We look forward to what will be

L:  We accept God’s claim on our lives and on our church

A:  We look forward to what will be

L:  We pray for the grace needed to be for the world the Body of Christ redeemed by His blood.

A:  Recognizing what has gone before, grateful for what is, we face the future confidently and sure of God’s grace toward us. 

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