I continue to relish in First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte’s 200th Anniversary Celebration last Sunday. Yes, the music and sermon and liturgy were all inspiring and perfect. And there was something else: obvious kindness shown between members and guests and volunteers and staff.
This is a must-read article from The Atlantic if you are in a relationship with a partner/husband/wife and also if you happen to be part of a church community. It’s not like church relationships are the same as marriage, but many of us crave a spiritual community that feels like home, just like many of us crave a partner that feels like home.
This pandemic has made some tempers shorter and it sometimes shows up in church.
Kind: The music from last Sunday isn’t usually my favorite but it was so joyful!
Not Kind: The music from last Sunday was an embarrassment. Since when are we trying to be The Grand Ole Opry?
The Atlantic article examines the differences between marriages that work and marriages that don’t work, and kindness plays a role. (Again, read the article.) And the points made can also be said about congregations.
- Do we bring a spirit of kindness and generosity to our congregation or do we bring a spirit of hostility? (For non-churchy readers: yes some of us in churches can be very cranky as a way of life.)
- Do we appreciate each other? The person who has never been thanked after 15 years of setting up for coffee hour might become resentful.
- Are we generous in giving leaders the benefit of the doubt or are we scanning the room for mistakes leaders might be making?
- Do our church members feel cared for and validated for their gifts or are we mostly concerned that they “stay active” and “keep pledging.”
The term “acts of kindness” has become banal, but these are the times – when the future feels uncertain and anxieties are on the rise – when kindness makes the difference between a thriving congregation and a dying one.
Could not agree more. How do we (pastors? leaders?) shift a culture from grumpy and fault-finding to kindness?