I recently reached the ten-year mark as the lead pastor of Calvary Monterey. In one sense, that is not a great deal of time, but it was a wild decade. The world of 2018 is far different than the world of 2008. When I began as pastor of this fellowship, George W. Bush had entered the final year of his presidency. The financial crisis of late 2008 had not yet occurred. Facebook "only" had 200M members, Twitter was in its infancy, and Instagram (along with a million other services) had not been invented yet. Just as the world has evolved much over the past ten years, so also our church has changed quite a bit during that time. Churches are living organisms, so just as a human body changes over time, so does a church. Here are ten of the ways Calvary Monterey has changed in the past ten years, in no particular order. I am certain I'm missing some fairly significant changes, so let me just say I am grateful to God for his grace and mercy. I can't believe I get to do this!
1 Our worship style.
We have always been a congregation which loves to sing to God, but we were a more staid and somber group back in 2008. Pastor Brenton Collyer, along with the wonderful leaders, musicians, and technicians who have joined along with him, has done a great job keeping an emphasis on biblically sound, God and gospel-centered worship, while livening up the atmosphere and style.
2 Our attendance rates.
One disturbing trend amongst churches in the west is the decreased participation in Sunday worship. Believers used to commit to being at the Sunday gathering every week more regularly. For many, that commitment has turned into “whenever possible.” So, while our average Sunday attendance has increased, especially over the past five years, the rate at which church members attend Sunday service has decreased.
3 Our small group emphasis.
In 2008 we had a few home fellowship groups, but as a whole, they were in decline. In 2018 around 60% of the church is engaged in a small group. We are delighted by this and have seen discipleship, fellowship, holiness, and service increase as a result.
4 Our giving base.
We are a multigenerational church but have gotten younger than we were in 2008. Additionally, the most generous and least indebted generation of our modern time is increasingly dying, moving on to be with the Lord. Personal indebtedness, lack of disposable income, lack of commitment to tithing or planned generosity, and a desire to give to causes rather than churches have all impacted the church. So we’ve seen our giving base shift to many smaller givers from a few large givers.
5 Our pastoral team.
The pastors of Calvary Monterey are solid men, a well-rounded group. Only I and Pastor Mike Casey, however, were here when 2008 began. But every man God has raised up or added to this team has become a phenomenal and integral part of the work. Along with those men, God has raised up other incredible men and women who have partnered with us for the gospel. I have such joy serving with this team.
6 Our online ministry.
Thirty years ago it was common to need to be physically present to hear Bible teaching, or at least to get the physical media that you could take with you to hear Bible teaching (tapes, CDs). Nowadays, online Bible teaching is ubiquitous, and Calvary Monterey has utilized it fully. My through-the-Bible series, various podcasts, our church app, YouTube, and calvary.com teachings page have all seen increased engagement over the years.
7 Our church calendar.
We have gone from a highly scheduled church with many ministries and events to much more streamlined and manageable approach. Doing fewer things better has been a blessing to our church, but I think it has also been timely in a world that has become increasingly complex. Small groups in Spring and Fall. Midweek service in Winter and Summer (only Summer this year).
8 My teaching style.
I am not the same teacher as I was ten years ago. I am just as committed to an expositional teaching style as I was back then, but I have grown into it more. Additionally, I am more of a spiritual father than I was at age thirty. I have also learned a lot more of the Word in the last ten years, which bleeds out into all my teachings. I hope and pray for an ever-increasing boldness and clarity as I teach the Bible for years to come.
9 Our vision and mission.
I could write a few thousand words about this one, so let me restrain myself and point out only two things. First, our vision statement is now “Jesus Famous.” That is what we want to see in individual lives, our church life, our community, and every community on earth. Second, the last line of our mission statement is now “and the planting of churches.” I do not think we had much of an emphasis on church planting ten years ago. We weren’t against it but also weren’t intentionally for it either. It has been refreshing (and challenging) to become more of a training resource for church planters as an end game in seeing Jesus Famous.
10 Our unity.
Every church has to fight for unity, and ours is no different. We have plenty of divergent views on the more minor theological points. We lose focus from time to time, adding ministries and events that don't fit the overall vision. We have plenty of people who aren’t into our vision and mission. But stating that vision and working towards it has helped foster even more unity than we already had in 2008.
I am thankful to God for a wonderful ten years and am also thankful to Calvary Monterey for the patience, grace, and understanding they have shown me as their pastor. I feel appreciative of the opportunity to throw my life into the study and communication of God’s Word. I feel the church has allowed me to give myself to that work. I look forward, with great anticipation, to the next ten years. I believe God is going to do great things. To him be the glory!