If you build it, he will come.
That's the most famous line from the 1989 baseball fantasy film, Field of Dreams.
It may work for a fictional Iowa ball field, but it's not a good plan for 21st century churches, Pastor Steve Sheldon said last week.
To survive, congregations must reach out to the community. Wrightsdale Baptist Church has been doing just that for the past decade.
"We still have a good young congregation and we're reaching out into the community," he said. "We decided a while ago to reach out to families and that's why we have sustained growth."
Continuing that progress will be up to the pastor's successor.
Late last week, he retired from Wrightsdale Baptist Church, packed up his office, vacated the parsonage, and moved back to his hometown of Waynesboro.
He made the decision for several reasons, the pastor said.
Among them is his age.
"I am 66 and I can get full Social Security," he said. "And I have had a few health issues. I've had skin cancer removed several times and I have more surgery scheduled for next week."
He and his wife, Kathy, will also feel more comfortable moving back to his hometown where they will be closer to his mother.
"She is in assisted living and is doing well, but we will be more comfortable if we're closer," he said.
Pastor Sheldon came to Wrightdale initially as an interim minister a decade ago. He became its pastor in July, 2011.
At the time, he said he intended the local congregation to be his last full-time charge.
But he is not retiring completely.
"It's time to refocus our ministry," he said. "I've been in the ministry for 42 years and I intend to continue some work."
He plans to serve as a supply pastor, may take posts as an interim minister, and will do mission work.
Pastor Sheldon also wants to have time to refinish furniture, and do more hunting and fishing. "I used enjoy fly fishing and I have a friend who tells me he can get me back in it," he said.
He and his wife will also have time to travel and to visit their son and granddaughter in Vermont.
Meanwhile, the congregation is getting ready to form a search committee for a new pastor. In the meantime, the church also intends to hire an interim pastor.
The congregation is ready for that challenge and others as the 21st century develops, Pastor Sheldon said.
"The church will need to embrace change. In the future, it will be even more important to engage the community," he said. "Wrightsdale can do that. … I will miss the people I have gotten to know and the day to day contact. I know they are ready for the future and I wish them well."