Don Merrit asked the question: how do “surviving churches” become thriving churches?
Further to yesterday’s post – my “outflow” left me with a very clear question (with the obligatory pre-question ponderings – of course!) 🙂
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The ministers are “qualified” in theology. Qualified in many things. But rarely with the time for relationship of the Jesus kind (and rarely with the balls for relationship of the Jesus kind). Demons? Spiritual warfare? The freaky God stuff? Hugs and kisses? Spontaneity and fun? Deep thinking and teaching? Personal and personalised one-one? It’s just that they are human too. Just like you and I. And yet … we expect so much of them. We have such high standards of them. We see the label of “minister”, or “pastor” or whatever the official title used … and we abuse the person within.
And they “abuse” the person within. Having to hide who they are, what they think, how they feel, how tired they are, how put-upon they are, how pissed off at spending so much time negotiating trivia, compromising to achieve unity, keeping the paying-bums-on-seats happy – all of the “church” stuff WE impose on THEM.
That WE impose on THEM. Good church folk. Opinionated church folk. Church folk who acquire ownership of how church should be. When we say the church is “us” – why do we never like to look too closely at just what that really means?
It seems to me that “surviving churches” do not become “thriving churches”.
It seems to me that hungry God lovers get by EITHER on a scant diet of bullshit and bible, OR find a fertile field of pasture. And as each of us who hunger seek a slightly different diet – WE impose on our “add title” to serve up a menu no restaurant would or could ever serve. A menu no one “add title” can ever serve to the satisfaction of each.
Well hello … !
This bloggy church of computer chips and no other expenses allows just that. This church of thousands, this community of diversity, this place of fellowship, this community of giving – it has but one thing in common:
Hungry God lovers feeding in an infinitely fertile field.
Look around. Some are word crafters. Others are word mashers. Some are bible literate, others are bible blind. Some love music, others love pictures, some love logic, others love kite-flying. Some push as far into God as they know how, others stroke the feet of God in comfort.
And within and threaded through all – God moves. God connects. God allows. Love moves and connects and allows.
So I have a request.
Talk to your churches, your ministers, your committees. Let them know why YOU come to this community. Share YOUR “testimony “ – allow YOUR hungry God lovers to find a field in which they can feed. This community has the size, the scope and the diversity to allow all. To welcome all.
Maybe surviving churches do not become thriving churches because of the paid help only.
We can each become “thriving” in our relationship with God. One by one we can thrive – the cutters, the suicidal, the divorced, the atheists, the depressed, the happy, the gays, the less gays, the downright bloody miserables, the missionaries, the stay at home, the singer, the painter, the butcher and candle stick maker – faith by any name with Love as its heart – all of the different slice and dice denominations – all ARE welcome!
Talk to your churches, your ministers, your committees. Let them know why you come to this community. And invite them to come and sit awhile. To feed awhile. To share the Love that threads this community.
Because I have one question arising from all of this (finally! 🙂 ):
Why do we take the biblical image of “sheep” so literally? Why do we assign ourselves the status of “can’t, won’t … baaaaahhhhhh”? Why do we hang on to that “baaaaahhhhhh” state of mind for so long – maybe even a lifetime? Why do we assign the role of “shepherd” to the paid help? Why do we look to the paid help to tell us how, when and where? Why do we look to bricks and mortar, structure and establishment, tradition and teaching?
When will we look … to God Soft Hands Jesus?
My God. My relationship. My Love.
Even sheep eat grass without being told to. Even shepherds can only take their flock a certain distance. But my God can take me anywhere He wishes. I can feed wherever He takes me. I am not a sheep. God is not a “paid help” shepherd. We do not “need” a mentor, a qualified leader, a professional God worker. We have God. And He resides within. All we have to do is connect.
I feed in this church without bricks, borders, time-zones because there is so much to feed upon. All I have to do is listen to Him, be guided by Him, connect as He allows.
So please talk to your churches, your ministers, your committees. Let them know why YOU come to this community. Share YOUR “testimony “ – allow YOUR hungry God lovers to find a field in which they can feed. This community has the size, the scope and the diversity to allow all – to feed all.
Or do we really choose to be “baaaaahhhhhh”?