Our trip from Syracuse NY to Tucson was a disaster. Right off the bat, on the first leg of our journey between Syracuse and Philly, the flight was late. Arriving in Philly, we missed our connection to Phoenix. They booked us for a later flight. Karen and I were not sitting together. We boarded the later flight and then sat on the tarmac for 2 hours. Missed the connection coming from Phoenix to Tucson. Arrived in Tucson 7 hours late to finish our 16 hour saga. It was a mess but my biggest frustration is when the gate attendant comes on the loudspeaker and says "Ladies and Gentleman, we are experiencing a slight delay. Our 3:35 flight to Phoenix, will be delayed 15 minutes. We thank you for your patience." 2 things.... first, It is 3:32 at the time of the announcement. I am looking out the window and the plane has yet even pulled into the gate. When it does get there. The arriving passengers will have to disembark, crews change, plane is cleaned, and only THEN can we begin to board our "completely full, every seat taken, flight." There is no way we can produce this turn around in 15 minutes. Stop lying to me and tell me the truth! Secondly, stop thanking me for my patience when I have already run out of patience!
In local church revitalization/redevelopment it is the same. Stop lying to the local church members and friends. Tell the truth. The message "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have experienced a slight downturn in our financial and attendance numbers, however with just some minor adjustments we should be back on track as the leading protestant congregation in the city. Thank you for your patience," does not work. Tell the truth "In 15 years we have gone from 350 in worship on Sunday morning to under 80 on most Sundays during the summer. This is a stunning, rapid decent and the financial picture is not much better. We can't afford a complete flight crew and we are praying for God to show up as our co-pilot. No in flight drinks will be served and we will dim the lights to make it difficult to see all the empty seats.... Oh, and by the way, I will refrain from thanking you for your patience because we need to trade patience for some urgency to turn this thing around!"
Let's tell the truth. We cannot turn a church around unless the people know the truth.