Golly Gee Whiz God . . . we are growing. People are actually coming to church, they are beginning to engage in community, they are in need of pastoral care, programs, fellowship . . . AND all the while, the church should be well administrated AND, Oh yeah, there must also be a thoughtful and compelling Sunday message. Whoa there skippy . . . this is not as much fun as I thought it would be!
In one model of church growth theory we are in transition from “Pastoral” to “Program” church.* We are pressing that 150 mark in terms of people connected with the church and to tell you the truth, I am not sure I really like it all that much. Am I energized, yes. Am I excited, yes. Am I even a little surprised, sure. But do I like the possible ramifications of it all, not sure. – MBCC’ers who are reading this please do not freak out and think I am unhappy, just read on, I am merely reflecting – The selfish side of my pastoral personality now has to share. And as we all know, we may pray well with others, but we pastors do not share well. And now, not only do I have to share, but I have to give up even more control than I probably want to.
Probably the scariest part of this for me as the designated “Herder of Cats” – AKA pastor to a bunch of postmoderns – is that it has become abundantly clear that I can’t do everything. Obviously this is about skill set, but it is also about energy, pastoral resources, and long-term sustainability. If we are going handle this growth well, we must ALL ALL ALL move from a pastor centered/driven kind of place to one that the community are truly ministers to one another.
I think at the heart of my struggles to make this transition is the underlying arrogance that I REALLY can do everything. I mean in my life here I have been janitor, venue coordinator, long-term planner, process person, pastoral caregiver, counselor, accountant, teachers, preacher, small group leader, administrator community activist and when possible . . . . hubby and daddy. Heck, I have even lead music . . . an experience we here a MBCC choose to pretend never happened.
Now I am sure that I am not the first nor the last to realize that Pastoral Perfection is a pipe-dream, but it it is really coming to a head these days at MBCC . . . again, for good reason, we are growing.
So needless to say, the next few months at MBCC are going to be very exciting for us all. Will folks be able to step up and take on new commitments? Will I be able to navigate well the terrain of control within our unique community? What do I appropriately hold on to and what do I let go of? If folks do take on a bigger role in the life of the church, will I like what comes out on the other end?
This Sunday, it all begins at our Potluck and Town Hall Meeting. We are putting it out there, the challenge to those 100 or so who have been lurking, dabbling, tasting, but not yet diving in to take a chance and be part of something greater than we can do by ourselves. Our size, our fiscal needs, our yearning to be more active in the community, our need to grow in our relationship with God, our belief that MBCC can be play a positive role in the spiritual life of individuals and the community . . . all these things compel all of us – pastors, leadership, members and friends – to risk, to be part of community in meaningful ways and to be open to the possibilities that God has for us . . . even beyond our own imagination.
Pretty exciting . . . okay, maybe I do like it!
*Article on the “How to Minister Effectively in Family, Pastoral, Program, and Corporate Sized Churches” by Roy Oswalt of the Alban Insitute. Not the sexiest title in the world, but clear and very helpful to growing or declining churches nonetheless.