. . . posts on faith and life
My mother told me that she once prayed, after having been very moved and inspired by Paul’s analogy of the church as the body of the Christ, and asked God to show her to which part of the body she belonged. She was surprised to immediately hear a voice in her head say, “You are part of the intestines.” Not really what she was expecting! But she soon felt like that made a lot of sense. As an educator, speaker, and minster she realized that she was an important part of distributing nutrients to the body. However, she also knew that she had to mostly deal with a lot of !@#$ along the way.
Nobody deals with more of that stuff than a pastor! In a lot of congregations the pastor IS the spiritual plumbing. That’s not all bad. Someone has to do it. I’ve done a good bit of it in my time. In fact, a lot of my vision for talking about problems of the church in the blogosphere is recognizing that we need to pump some of this stuff out of here so we can all breathe again and move forward! Still, no one goes into ministry with a vision for this type of waste management.
I wonder if what I perceive to be an inordinate accumulation of !@#$ in some churches is brought on by something that in fact could be fixed? I know that a lot of us have resigned to the fact that it’s just part of ministry. But I’m not sure that some of the stuff we’re bogged down in is really what our ministry is called to be. So what might be stopping up our spiritual plumbing?
I am sure there are an assortment of possibilities. However, one particular thing has piqued my interest. We have been talking about inefficiencies in both our administrative structure as well as our local churches. But I wonder how inefficient we are in utilizing our people? When I was spending a lot of time fundraising I was always amazed at the variety and giftedness of even the smallest and most obscure congregations. Most of our churches average 50 or so people in attendance. You would not believe how many occupations, talents, skills, experiences, and sets of knowledge can be found in a church of 50 people! It’s really quite unbelievable! Yet many of them spend their lives coming to church week in and week out and never do more than volunteer for a few select church functions.
I could not even begin to scratch the surface of potential ministry that lies dormant in most congregations. But here’s a couple of things to start the conversation. Do you have a teacher or two in your congregation? Then why are they not doing an after school tutoring program? Is there a mechanic in your congregation? Why is he not volunteering to work with some of the ‘at-risk’ kids at the high school, who often love cars! Is there a pet groomer in your congregation? Why has she not coordinated a pet awareness event for the community (she could throw in a free clip to the first 20 dogs that showed up)? Are there some old Rock ‘n Roll guys in your church? Why aren’t they creating a place where kids can come and jam with their friends after school? On and on it could go; the list really would be endless! The ministry strategies of a local church should be as varied as the interests of their people–and then some!
Perhaps the reason we find ourselves bogged down in waste management is because we are typically wasteful managers (hey, I’m numero uno here!). We are wasting all of the giftings that fill our churches because we cannot see beyond our own agenda (which unfortunately is often nothing more than self preservation). On top of that, we have our own individual limitations to overcome in order to release our people into the world. Personally, I found it easy to cast vision to a church member, but found it extremely difficult to resource him/her. But if we’re going to make any significant Kingdom advancement we will have to find a way to overcome such personal inabilities in order to awaken the sleeping giant of the church. So, what do we do?