I am a Presbyterian Mid-Council Leader which means I am the administrator of Presbyterian congregations in a specific geographic area. In my case, there are 96 churches stretching across seven counties. I need to work smart in terms of my time.
In Mid-Council Ministry, I’ve seen some Presbyteries that give most of the attention to troubled or conflicted or dying congregations. Maybe the churches are grieving the loss of a leader or maybe they are in conflict over theological issues or maybe there are less than ten members left. (Note: many dying churches are in denial about what’s happening. And some think they’re dying but they aren’t.)
Most of my time is going to the churches who are thriving, experimenting, willing to learn and try new things. I am obsessed with the churches who take leaps, risk failure, and think big. These are also – without exception – the congregations who are certain that the Holy Spirit is with them – prompting them, challenging them, making them less comfortable.
The thriving churches are small, large, rural, urban, theologically conservative and theologically progressive. They are clear about their purpose and reason for existing. They value transparency. They may not universally like each other but they definitely love each other and they love the people outside their walls.
It’s basically more fun to be with people who take risks for the sake of sharing God’s love. I know congregations who have taken YEARS to change their worship times, start a new support group, or replace their powdered creamer with half and half. Those congregations wear me out.
And I know congregations who do things without hand wringing. If it falls within their core values and budget, leaders have permission to create a team and do it.
Where’s the spark? That’s where I want to be. I’m drawn to seminarians with spark, church staffers with spark, volunteers with spark, congregations with spark. (Note: Introverts sparkle too.)
This doesn’t mean that I ignore congregations who struggle. But there is a difference between struggling and grappling. Congregations who grapple with what God is calling them to be are moving – guided by the Spirit.
Congregations guided by bullies or divas or death eaters (instead of the Spirit) are not as pleasant – although I kind of love dealing with conflict because God does especially great things when life is twisted. Check out how the bullies, divas, and death eaters fare in the Bible. Note that God always wins.
So – Church – I want to spend time with you. In fact, I’m obsessed with knowing how God is working among you. You will get more of my and the Presbytery’s time and energy if you allow the Spirit to spark something life-changing.
PS Even the most extraordinary church or church leader doesn’t get all my time. I have other things going on too. #Commandment4 #StaringIntoSpace #TheFamily