Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Why We’ve Cancelled Our Pumpkin Patch

Recently I and our church’s leadership team made a very tough decision. The decision was to cancel our annual Pumpkin Patch.  This has been a very popular event both with people in our church and in our community. It has blessed many people with a fun experience as well as raising funds to send kids & teens to summer camp – so this decision was not an easy one.  However, I am convinced that it is the right decision for our church family right now (we may decide to revisit this subject in the future).

We have just wrapped up an incredible 2009 – 2010 ministry season. We have had many, many new people & families joining our church.  We have seen Jesus changing lives, marriages, & families. We’ve added our new Cafe’/Lobby & entrance. We have added a new Family ministries pastor & new part-time worship leader. However, our church has taken a hit financially with the economy and our resources are limited. Our staff is working harder than ever to lead, shepherd, and connect people to Christ at a time when things are tight financially & every one of our key ministries are in need of many more volunteers.

As much as I personally love the Pumpkin Patch – it is a volunteer vacuum! It requires a tremendous amount of time, energy, & effort from quite a few people. Each year we struggle to find enough volunteers to cover an entire month of operation & for those who do work the Pumpkin Patch it is an all-consuming endeavor. Meanwhile, many of our core ministries find themselves “competing” with the Pumpkin Patch to find enough volunteers.

Given these realities the wise thing for us to do is to focus our limited resources (staff, volunteers, & money) for the greatest impact. We have always tried to be a simple and intentional church.  This means we deliberately choose to do only a few things and those few things must have an intentional or clearly defined purpose that aligns with our mission. The areas of greatest impact in this church are undoubtedly our Weekend Worship services, Life Groups, Children’s & Teen Ministries, Local & Global missions.  Our call during this season is to focus relentlessly and almost exclusively on these and the people they are impacting for the Cause of Christ.

A common question is doesn’t the Pumpkin Patch impact hundreds of lives and bring new people into the church? The answer is yes and no.  Yes, over the course of the month of October hundreds of people come out, but other than a handful of families, we have never seen any substantial new growth in our church from the Pumpkin Patch.

Also, what about kids & teens trying to raise money for summer camp? Well, here’s where it gets a little personal for me. My kids work so much each year that their entire summer camp is paid for by the Pumpkin Patch. However, besides my kids there are only a few others who take advantage of this opportunity. The last few years we have really struggled to get kids & teens to work at the Pumpkin Patch – most believe their parents will pay for camp.

Another question is what if we can find a lot more volunteers? But again the question is one of priority.  Right now we need more volunteers in almost every area of our church. We desperately need more volunteers for parking, greeting, ushers, sound, lighting, video, kids & teen ministries, & Life Group facilitators. Acts 6:1-7 shows an example of people being asked to serve where the church most needed it. As much as I love it & it benefits my family, the Pumpkin Patch is simply not the area of greatest need right now in our church.

Again, we may revisit this subject in the future, but for right now this is the direction we believe God is leading us. I continue to ask for your prayers because we need God’s wisdom to help us navigate during these uncertain times & always. Thanks for being on this amazing, God-sized ride with me! I love you all!

BTW: We are working on a BIG FALL FESTIVAL type of event for the month of October. (This would be a 1 day blowout – rather than a month-long marathon) Stay tuned for more details!!!


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