Thursday, December 12, 2013

To Live or Die? A Faith Families Struggle

My little church I attend is going through a process of change.  Over the decade they have lost membership as so many churches have experienced for whatever reasons and they have decided to try and do something about it.  The older folks have noticed that they are getting older and that there are fewer and fewer younger folks to carry on what they have invested so much of their time and money and heart into.  So this past year they joined a movement called Healthy Church Initiative to explore ways to revitalize the church in an effort to slow the decline and hopefully turn the numbers around.

I, for one, have never been impressed with "programs" or church consultants that are designed to "save" a church from whatever.  I've seen them come and go and nothing changed. Just a lot of "doing something" without getting something done.  So I set this one out, partially due to my health issues this past year and partly because I really did not believe in it and didn't want to be a negative if folks wanted to give it a try.

So they've been working on it. Having meetings. Reading books. Going to this and that.  The consultants gave their prescription on how to turn this thing around.... and that's where the fun started.  It seems the things I have been saying for, oh about a decade and better, are almost exactly what the consultants told them. Its always better hearing it from someone who gets paid good money than someone from Nazareth anyway.  It seems we are a bit inwardly focused.  It seems we have some turf issues within the church.  It appears we need to get out of our comfort zones and do things differently.  It appears its NOT ALL ABOUT US.

Now, I really don't care about all of the above.  That's a universal thing for most organizations. Loosing focus of who and what they are to be and how to go about it.  The machine takes over and we end up feeding the thing itself just to keep it alive - when in all reality maybe its time for it to die.  Its done its thing and is no longer useful. Businesses, churches, governments, organizations, the list is long.  But its nice to see that these folks are recognizing that yeah, maybe we do have some issues and need to address them.  And they are in the early painful stages of doing this.  At least its a step - hopefully in the right direction to discern what we are about and what we want to do. They aren't giving up. It appears they are at least willing to listen. 

I am staying in the background. Observing. Offering whatever when necessary or asked.  I am watching these folks struggle with who they were, are, and may become. Its uncomfortable for them. It will be nasty at times. People will have to get over themselves. People will have to reach, extend, get all twisted and bruised.  But anything worth it, is going to take some dirt.

So they aren't on hospice quite yet. They are facing their mortality and realizing that they want to pass something on. Something worth having. A legacy if you will.  I am not convinced that they know what that thing is yet. Is it just driving up the membership for sheer numbers so it looks better? Is it, as they call it, reaching people for Jesus Christ (whatever all that means).  Is it because they got something they love and they want to share it with others? I do not know what their answers and neither do they. They haven't gotten there yet.

But I'm glad to be a part of a faith community where at least they are aware, are asking questions, and are open to the possibilities. It may or may not work standing still is definitely a death sentence.  To Live or Die is what they are facing.  In the words of Ten Bears from Outlaw Josey Wales, "It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life... or death. It shall be life."

We shall see. ~npp