What do you do with a lazy church? As a leader in my church, I'm constantly getting strength and guidance from God in regards to my life, my leading position and direction in the church I'm currently attending, but it seems that a large number of congregants in my church are more focused on 'holding on to their legacy' than actually doing the will of God. In years past, there have been quite a few opportunities where God could've really moved and done some really great stuff but from what I can tell, He hasn't been able to (through the congregation as a whole, I mean) because the congregation didn't want to work for it. I'm not saying that God can't move, I'm instead saying that it's more like the congregation doesn't really want God to move if that makes sense. It sounds much worse than I mean it to, but it is the truth as I know it.
There's a whole layer of underlying issues (that are understandable) that have lead to them acting as they do but overall, in my opinion, the congregation is old, tired, burnt out, bitter, and, to be honest, lethargic. We (the pastoral staff) feel that we have spent years doing our best to follow God's will (and will continue to spend years more should God ask us to) in this church, but with not a whole lot to show for it. We're at a point where the church is dying and, although I'm fine if God wants this church to end, I'm at a loss as to what else I might be able to do to keep it running. As I type, one of God's churches in Portland, Oregon is on its way to being a memory. Church finances are tightening by the month, there are more and more responsiblities being added on in my personal life (new baby, new job responsibilities, new shift hours, and more), and I feel that I have tried everything that I can (as God asked for of course). And we're still in this place.
Finally, with some of the congregants that seem more hesitant to go the way God leads us, I don't feel that I have the relationship to call them out on it in a loving way, so if I tried, it would do more harm than good. Is anyone here in their life? Has anyone been there? What did you do? What did God do? What did the congregation do? We need God to do what only He can do and I know this situation isn't lost on Him. But we feel that we need something to happen and soon. Otherwise, I really don't know what will happen. Thanks in advance for any advice you have to give and I pray that through all of this, God's name is glorified. Because that is priority.
"I always thought that He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to die. In the process, he helped people."
He loved, so he send his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9).
"Now to me, the local church service is for edifying believers."
"But remember that people have lives to lead - I've seen many an activity-laden congregation. They are short lived."
Exactly. What I'm saying isn't about program. It is about coming together to serve each other using the talents and abilities that God has given. This is love. A church that shares generously will edify all.
"I personally think community drives are a great thing, especially if your purpose is to evangelize to the lost. Nothing will show people that God cares like working in a food shelter or soup kitchen. But if that's all you do, you're not carrying out the Great Commission."
We have to be careful here. That isn't exactly what I'm promoting. What I'm promoting is people serving people. Organized programs are OK, but I think the spontaneous efforts of service should be more strongly considered.
We try to do our best to honor God and live how He commands. However, it's getting increasingly hard when we see those who have claimed to be followers of Jesus for more years than I've been living do and say things that cause more hurt and frustration towards others than help, aid and good.
*sigh* When you find yourself wishing they'd all just leave you alone so that you could follow Jesus, then know that you're in good company. I, too, have had to learn to leave the anger behind when "church" people consistantly put the brakes on Godly endeavors, not because they're right and not because there isn't a place for "righteous anger" - simply because the only thing it does is drain your energy and divert your focus.
I'm about to make a drastic change in the life of myself and my family, in that I've started a non-profit organization what will allow me to go to Africa and serve the poor and needy. At 54 years of age, that's a drastic change. However, I'm getting pushback from "good Christian people" who don't like what I'm doing because there is development work involved and not simply "preaching the gospel." What frustrates me the most is that they simply don't know their Bible.
What do you do about them? I'm tending towards ignoring them and moving forward. The Lord is our Master; He makes the calls. Be found faithful to Him, and learn to let the others deal with their own choices - for one day, they will. We all will.
God bless you and your wife as you continue to be faithful.
It all sounds like Moses and the people of Israel in the desert. They complained all the way. lol
What 'my opinion' is, get the church to fall on their knees and beseech God for what He is calling the church to do. That you don't do church the usual way, til you get an answer from God. If they don't like it - they can pray about it. If they want to replace you - they can pray about it; but at least seek God first.
Jer 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Only then, will they, even under sufference change, but if you are the one called by God to be the leader for them , the church of God in that area, then to be honest they need to support your calling ; and your direction or get off your back. This might sound simplistic or harsh, but if God placed you there, they need to get a life and get right before God. In my opinion , they are greaving the Holy Spirit, if they are stopping the Holy Spirit from working in you and in your church.
Ok, I am not a theologin, nor am I a pastor of a church, but I have been a leader in church for many years and have seem the stiff necked people rise up and distort the Word of God to suit their personal wants. Pushing their own agenders etc and steering the church off course to deadends. All I know, is submit to God not man, and lead the people, not follow the people. But, also, go back and pick the people up when they fall and walk with them til they get it, then lead again.
Seraphim, I do believe, there are times that you must answer your call and to standup , and do what you are personally called to do. Even if the world around is falling apart, which include your love ones and friends when they fail to heed God's voice/ call/ vision/ command to them. At one stage Jesus said let the dead bury the dead, then He moved on to what He had to do. I think it's Luke 9: 57-62 , where that happens, because some are spiritually dead ( not physically dead that is ). We are called to go forward not back.
It is in your heart to include the rest of the family at your church, that is so awesome to my heart; but just listen to God and do what you are called to do inspite of what is happening around you; you might be surprised at what God does to the ones holding the leadership back. If God wants it to move then, it will move.
One thing they did try at my family church ( were my dad and mum started to go, when we were young), was when a person said why can't we do this or why don't we do this like we did years ago; was to make that person own the idea, and run with it. That way it was up to the congregation to make it happen and not the leadership. One idea was to start up Boys Brigade again; where the fathers used to be in it as kids. Now they are the leaders and several guys got together and got it working again. The girls then wanted to run a Girls Brigade, so they were made responsible to get the mothers involved. It did work for years, but I think you need to look outside the box and change your tactics a bit. Forget the dead and be concerned with the living - maybe that means the young ones will get the church moving again - just a thought.
In my case I focused on where I did have authority. First I did a lot of work with the youth group. I found that as much as I expected the church to be devoted followers of Christ who would leave everything to follow him and love each other as themselves, the reality is they had jobs and lives and wanted church to be a spiritual add-on to that. The youth, however, didn't have that hangup. They had school and schoolwork but church community was their escape and they were wide open to exploring how to live for Christ. People love to think that kids and teens want entertainment, but no, they want people to care for them and show them how to have meaning in their life.
So then with the worship team I made it a place where the musically inclined teens could learn to lead worship. I used whatever authority I had to give them a chance to step up. They did, and it was amazing. See, teens can get away with stuff in a worship service that an adult can't. When you have the teens on your team you can dance, do prophetic worship change everything up, and people accept it because it's the teens. We were an Anglican church, and had all this charismatic stuff going on.
Anyway, my vision for the youth and the church was strong and eventually it caused others who had more authority to solidify their vision. For the youth group, it wasn't a place to go deep it was made to be a shallow place so that it would be safe to invite non-christians. That was ok, it just made me make my own group in my home for the ones who wanted to go deeper. That matured to become its own mini-church today.
For our church itself the ending wasn't so happy. It split in two for political reasons. I had been vocal in this process (I was not the most tactful in my youth) and as a result wasn't really welcomed by the leadership of the new entities. Both new churches are quite small and one is dying faster than the other. I had left a job to pour my life into the church as a volunteer and was super invested in it, and as a result this devastated me. It was a Luke 10 sort of effort with a "prophet not welcome in his hometown" sort of response. You live and learn. But I didn't have the clout or authority to make the changes I wanted to make with the wider group.
Bottom line: You need clout to change the direction of a congregation. If you don't have the buy-in of all the leaders, either reduce the amount you're invested in the congregation (read: stop caring) or start your own thing that fits the vision the Lord put in your heart or both. If you do have the buy in of the leadership team, only then would I recommend trying to influence the congregation from the position of worship team leader.
Nathan, for a younger guy, you have certainly gained a lot of wisdom over the years. You echo a lot of my own thoughts, only it took me way too many years and worship wars to figure out that I needed to "refine" my approach to things!
SeraphimRenegade, it's not easy to lower your expectations once you realize that you don't have the position or authority to make the changes you'd like to see, but that's the reality of it. The key is to not lose your heart for the people, or for the Lord's work in the midst of it. Some people are better at that than others...for me it's still tough.
On a personal note, my own church's mission board has been deliberating for 2 months about whether to support my mission project (see www.mercytechmission.com) and last night was supposed to be the defining meeting where they make the big decision. Guess what...it got postponed for another month...
I could get mad or frustrated - if they needed more info, then why not ask for it sometime in the past two months? But instead God has shown me that I need to follow Him more than wait for man, so I'm making other plans for move ahead. I will be in Africa (or wherever) whether people get on board or not.
For people like us, we work better just getting on with doing our thing as opposed to waiting for others to give permission. Don't know if this helps at all, but I know I feel better writing it!
Thanks Rick. You burn your hand enough and you eventually learn what not to touch. But wow, don't let the board jerk you around for too long. Get your own support and go.
I had something very similar happen where I was told there was a job at the homeless mission for me. I went in and volunteered for 6 months all the time being told, "Just one more thing. Just a bit more info. We're busy we have a meeting in a week where we can decide things..." etc. Turns out they were just delaying and they didn't want me on board. So yeah, even though a church is in theory part of the righteous, holy bride of Christ, in reality it's an organization that may or may not contain some members of the righteous, holy bride of Christ, who may or may not be operating as the righteous holy bride of Christ.
Pardon my bitter edge here, but in reality the authority you have to submit to rests in the Lord that gave you the vision, not necessarily the organizational church that has a lot of organizational logistics, politics, and other stuff to think about.
There's a Chinese proverb that goes like this: Those that say it can't be done should get out of the way of those doing it.
Sometimes boards think you're asking permission to do what God is calling you to do, when in reality you're only offering them the opportunity to be a part of the blessing.