Monday, October 12, 2015

A Church Comes to a Close ~ 7: Not Prepared for This One!

A neighboring congregation has rolled out the welcome mat for ours.  Our session (and I) visited theirs (and their pastor)  a few weeks ago for an introductory meeting and tour.  They are taking our columbarium, shelves and stained glass window and all, and installing it in their building.  And yesterday, eighteen of our members worshipped with them.
And liked it.
LIKED it?  I wasn't at all prepared for them to LIKE it. 
Five folks stayed at "home" and so I led an informal service in our parlor, but I made it to the other church in the middle of the sermon, with about 20 minutes to go in the service.  Afterward, a large group of us went out to lunch, where I got to hear all the things they liked. 
The numbers of church.  The youth liturgist.  The bell choir.  The final song.  The pastor's animated preaching.  The light in the sanctuary.  The large, multi-generational congregation.  The graciousness of the regulars.
What's not to like?
Several of my colleagues have pointed out that my congregation has been well-prepared for change, prepared to be open and curious and to move on.  It's true; I have preached and taught and tried to model those things, and our session leadership has supported the rest of the congregation in exploring new possibilities.
But I'm not all that sure that I intended for them to LIKE it.


  1. Well I lost my comment. I'll be shorter this time. Here's how I'd feel if I were in that situation: Like it? LIKE IT? They liked the animated preaching? What about MY animated preaching? What about all the work I've done? All the things I've tried? My better self where ever it might be would be happy, but my core, my real self wouldn't like it one bit. I'd be sad and feel this as a failure. My head would know it's not, but my heart and gut would still be hurt.

    1. But that's the point -- I might be hurting, but they are, while hurting, too, finding possibilities for moving on, which a decade ago was not possible for them. So this is indeed the product of good work. I don't WANT them to be stuck. So it's not a failure. It's just hard.

  2. Out in the secular world, one of the hardest things for a manager to do is to train the staff to be able to function without him/her. Most people just reject that part of the job description of management. It's too hard to consider that if your team can function on its own, you have done a good job. All you can think is, "What will happen if they don't need me anymore?" But if the function of the team depends on your presence, you haven't done your job at all. Likely you've not delegated authority, but hoarded all the important parts for yourself. This is all a round-about way of saying that you have done a good job, which I'm sure you already know. The Almighty is preparing you to bring this task to a close so you can begin another.