I waxed poetic some time back (see the entry here) and received a response. I've now got five moments to post and not necessarily reply, but comment back, I guess.
"If your pastoral situation distresses you, then perhaps then it is time to do something about it. As the leader, it is incumbent upon you to set direction and expectations while sharing your ideas and views with others to drive congregational creativity. Foster the culture by strongly leading with integrity, trust and respect to unleash the wonderful resources of your people.
If the aforementioned is not in your plan, you need to ask yourself the question: “Should I be here?”"
I strongly agree with the core meaning of the comment; it sounds great and is definitely a set of goals with which to strive for.
Now, some reality. There are a few who have set forth new energy and new passion to see the church grow in many ways recently. We've seen several new people become regular attendees recently for which I'm thankful! It's nice to hold children's sermon and I can't fit all the boys and girls on the front pew.
Then there's that other core. You know, the ones who remind me of the two elderly guys in the balcony on the Muppet Show; only they don't make me laugh. I'm saddened instead. You can't make anyone listen. You can't force any response. That's the Holy Spirit's work (thank God!). So, the way to face the ones with the negative comments about everything (even both sides of an issue simply because they enjoy being negative) is to:
A) love 'em as Christ would
B) kill 'em with kindness
C) call 'em out when behavior disrupts the spiritual mission of the church
I don't like doing C), but I will, and I have before.
OVERALL---for all situations, there's only one missive: PRAYER. Pray for the "dead wood" to come alive; pray that those encouraged will not easily become "discouraged", pray that new people coming in will focus more on what's happening and how they can be an active part, as opposed to hearing the same dirty laundry from 1972 (how many churches have that problem? Answer: Most.)
Most of all; pray that He will use us to bring in those sheep who need to hear the Gospel before it is too late. Note I didn't say bring to us. We gotta a part to do in that as well.
I believe that churches experiencing lots of numerical growth fall, with some exceptions, into one of two camps:
A) The Holy Spirit is rocking the house; the Word is preached, the blood is not ignored, and God's people are passionate to bring their friends, family, etc. into God's presence.
B) The "church" is little more than the "feel-good religion house" where I can come in Sunday mornings, be told how much God loves me without anyone "forcing something like salvation down my throat", because, God forbid we scare away the seekers (and yes I use that term knowingly). We certainly don't want to offend them.
Sure there are other instances, such as targeted age demographics, growth in population around the church location, new program not found elsewhere in the area, etc. For the most part, though, you've got A and B.
In short, give me "A" any day.
But, enough diatribe; back on task (said the ADD/OCD guy!).....
Interestingly enough, my situation doesn't "distress" me. The fact that I am in the face of the visitor from opening announcements to benediction is what is frustrating. "Does anyone else do something here?" has to cross their mind, especially if they're really searching for a church home.
Obstacles? Lots of people who "can't pray in public". Yeah, I know, trust me. Now THAT distresses me. I can scream bloody murder at the college football game, but please don't ask me to say grace over the latest casserole extravaganza.
Missives that are not continued by those in responsibility: the deacon board was to rotate as lay leader participators in service (doing announcements, responsive reading, etc...), and they basically fell apart and stopped with no explanation. The discussion returned to a recent meeting and I'll be pushing for that.
There is, though, one sentence from the comment that begs some detail:
"Foster the culture by strongly leading with integrity, trust and respect to unleash the wonderful resources of your people."
This sentence assumes that either I'm not trustworthy or respectful, otherwise the unleashing would already have occurred, or jumps to the conclusion that I alone have the power to leash or unleash the people's resources.
Interestingly enough, I find many people who sit on their resources, talents, and abilities God gave them and act as if they are laying eggs.
The above quote is true, but is only part of the "unleashing". It begins with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to sway those that people find "unswaying", so to speak, surprising us when we see them become fired up about God's work. It continues with fostering the individual who is passionate, who is ready to work, not just to find them a "job" or "committee", but to give them reality to the purpose God gave them when He led them to the church to begin with.
It keeps from being derailed when you completely ignore those who do nothing but whine and complain in the "fostering" area. You hear them, you monitor their possible effect on the community (and individuals, first), and most importantly, you pray for them.
In the midst of all this, the above quote from the comment is absolutely dead on. The only problem I had was it only showed one view from the prism of spiritually growing the church, individually as well as corporately.
I'm sure some of you (maybe even the anonymous comment-er) may either scoff at this, not like this, or even think I'm trying to shirk responsibility. Absolutely not. To quote the author of this post from earlier this evening:
"I strongly agree with the core meaning of the comment; it sounds great and is definitely a set of goals with which to strive for."
And that leads us to the most important responsibility that envelopes and encloses everything else written of tonight, in the case of me. And that is, making sure I am trustworthy, respectful, and a man of integrity.
I got issues, but I'm working on it. And I'm glad God's the foreman of the project.