Most people who serve as church leaders realize what an important time it is in our religious landscape. Because of demographic, generational, technological and economic shifts, we realize that many churches are coming to the end of their seasons. In this important moment, we will need leaders who can experiment, create, test and plant.
I hear that bivocational ministry will be the reality for pastors entering the ministry. Our economic model is breaking down. A church with 50 households can no longer support one pastor. Even when a minister is willing to live frugally, the cost of education and medical benefits keeps getting higher. So, many people jump to bivocational ministry as the answer.
We’re not in the sort of culture where “my dad died over a year ago” is an excuse. But when I speak to other people who have lost loved ones, they say it takes two to three years before the wounds heal. I wonder why there is such a disconnect between our personal experience and our expectation of others.
In our corner of the economy, excellent pastors got fired and many took wage and benefit cuts. In some cases, the congregations didn’t realize that their decrease in membership was a national trend that had a lot to do with shifting demographics.
As important as it is to minister from those wounded places, to preach about real emotional issues, and to write from a place of spiritual depth, there is also danger in it—for us and for our communities.
When did we become a country of critics? And who wants to live in a society where we pick each other apart all the time? If we don’t watch out, our hyper-judgmental world will lead us to choke out all of our creativity, cultivate a fear of failure and leave us spiritually parched.
Sue came into the church office in order to help with some paperwork and plans for Sunday morning worship. “What are we doing for Mother’s Day?” she asked.
I paused. I had always benignly neglected Mother’s Day at our church. I thought of it as a Hallmark holiday, and not something that should fit on a liturgical calendar. I was taught in seminary that we should never mention it. Plus, there were personal reasons as well.
Our family is moving. As we pack up our stuff, making sure that each item is securely packaged, I’m also shifting things inside myself. My husband is going to start a new church. For the first time in fourteen years, I will not be a pastor serving a particular congregation.
While the war on women seems to be raging, with many religious leaders in the helm, there are also many women who are working in ministry, in spite of subtle and not-so-subtle resistence. In the last few weeks, I've been writing and talking with people about this in different venues as well as working behind-the-scenes on a few projects.
You might want to learn the rules in order to use them, to know when they are being used on you, or to reject them. Whatever you decide, just know that around every boardroom in America, they’re playing the game. And you’ll be playing it (even when you don’t realize it) at your church.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that we talk a lot
about the future of the church--how we need to move into a time of
innovation as well as transformation. Dennis Sanders recently reflected on this post, and I asked him if I could put his comments here.
Do we spend more time in closed rooms--trying to articulate to other church professionals why we are right--than we spend speaking to the media and articulating to the larger world why we believe in the inclusive love of God?