Jeff fisher

You now know what a growing church looks like. A growing church means that after a few months you look around the church and think: “I don’t know who all these new people are.” A growing church means that you have to open your wallets more because newcomers are just starting on their journey of increased stewardship. A growing church means that someone new might sit in “your pew” and you must smile at them at the Peace, not grimace.

Yet a growing church is not growing for the sake of growth. A growing church is growing for the sake of Jesus Christ, who changes lives! Jesus is alive at St. Alban’s and everyone knows it! And when Jesus Christ changes lives, then the Body of Christ grows and breathes into a new creation.

In the last six years, you and I and St. Alban’s Episcopal Church have grown and been changed by the Holy Spirit into a new creation. And after I leave, you will change even more, becoming yet again a new creation, through Jesus Christ who makes all things new.

Thank you for following Jesus Christ. Thank you for loving me and for loving my family. I love you – and I will miss you all terribly. Yet when we are in the Body of Christ, we never say “good-bye” – we just say “see you later.”

A ll churches say that they want to grow. When parishes are looking for a new rector, they usually put together a “parish profile” that lists the qualifications that they want in a new rector. In almost every parish profile I have ever read, one of the qualifications listed is this: “We want a rector who will help us to grow.” When you called me as your rector in 2006, you said the exact same thing: We want a rector who will help us to grow. You could probably say a lot of things, positive and negative, about my ministry among you; but I believe that I fulfilled your expectation of growth.

Yet what many churches do not realize is that a rector cannot solve all their problems and make a church grow. There is no magic potion that fills up the pews. A rector can only help a church grow when the congregation is willing to change and to try new things and to invite people in. And you have done all of those things. For your faithful response to my leadership, I am eternally grateful.

The phenomenal growth of St. Alban’s under my tenure did not happen because we instituted a new program or I went to some fancy workshop. The “secret” to our growth is that we have opened up the sacred scriptures together and learned that we must not be focused on just ourselves, but we must go out into the world to do the work that God has given us to do.