Let’s pass over the fact that the definition should read “…in what you have” and think about the concept. Owning it in this sense doesn’t just apply to real estate and personal property. Students passing a difficult test with flying colors say they owned it. Women trying an attractive new personal style are told to own it. Psychologists exhort patients to own themselves. To make a short story long, owning it in these contexts means something like: “You possess this [item, characteristic, personal triumph], and worked hard to do that, and because you did, you should be very proud of it and of yourself.” (Whew. Own it is a lot easier.)
What does this have to do with us? Well, author Perry Noble lists this as one of the 10 most important characteristics of growing churches:
The people in the church are OWNERS, not merely “members.” Members have rights, owners have responsibilities. The people in these churches understand that it is not the pastor’s job to minister to the people but rather the body’s job to minister to the body! And as a result people serve Jesus by serving others ...
Last year our church held its first Appreciative Inquiry summit to talk about church growth. During the planning sessions, however, our focus changed, and we talked instead about how to revitalize our church.
What’s the difference? Well, growth is mainly about adding warm bodies. Revitalization, on the other hand, includes growth, but also covers increased participation on every level by existing members. It’s about MORE – more giving, more sharing, more excitement, more love. More of the things that we appreciate about our church. More ownership.
The church’s 50th anniversary celebration was the first step in this process. The anniversary worship service, the ice cream social, and the gala dinner all exceeded our expectations and opened up new discussions about our future. Hosting the Presbytery meeting this spring led to a renewed dedication to maintaining our physical plant. The ongoing capital improvement project has lifted our spirits as the new paint has been applied, the plumbing and air conditioning issues have been resolved, and new plantings have gone in. All these things demonstrate what Dr. Miki Kashtan calls “the long arc of commitment.”
Let’s keep that arc on its trajectory. This fall, attend a group meeting you wouldn’t ordinarily go to, buy an extra memorial brick for the courtyard, ask a neighbor or friend to come with you to a fellowship dinner or a worship service. Let’s prove that we’re not just members of this church – we own it!