A Purposeful Paradigm Shift
“Well, that’s just not the way we do things.”
“We just need to get the young people back.”
“We need all of our committees meeting so that we can function as a church.”
“Our churches are dying and young people aren’t coming because sports teams are scheduling games on Sundays.”
Ah, the fallacies of the church collective mind.
The things that we continue to tell ourselves become concretized as gospel truth. We know in our hearts that church has to change if we are to survive. We know that there is a new iteration that needs to be born somewhere over the horizon, not only for future generations, but for existing generations who are in need of spiritual nourishment. But we also know that we need to feed the flock that comes through our doors on Sunday morning as well as those that want to, but are homebound, their caregivers, etc.
So, what are we to do?
One of the first things we need to do is create a culture in which a shift can occur. It’s one thing to create that shift, but the culture must first exist in which to allow it to happen. This can begin with pastoral leadership in asking more questions than making statements. Organically get leaders to start being curious, rather than defaulting to what they already “know.”
Next, we can ask ourselves if certain boards, teams, committees are really necessary. Of course, at first, people will affirm that they are. Challenge this. Do so gently with powerful questions that get to the WHY of the church’s existence. What is God calling you to do in your particular context? The more specific, the better. It will take time, but if enough curiosity is created, people will be empowered to dream and will begin to slowly let go of old ideas.
As this letting go happens, church leadership will start to realize that certain committees no longer have a purpose. Ending these will free up time and energy to focus on needs that relate more closely to your church’s current mission or to allow time for rest.
Remember - a congregation who does “stuff” with no purpose ends up getting burned out. That’s why teams/committees without purpose need to be allowed to die. BUT, and this is VERY important, they must be given a meaningful death. Put those teams on hospice. Allow them the space to grieve for many of these teams have held great meaning for those who have served on them. This healthy transitioning process will lead to a good death and therefore a good resurrection as whatever is needed in these times.
So now where might we focus that new found energy and time? You will discover this through a discernment process, but I am willing to bet that some of that will be aimed toward elder care and caregivers. Please also don’t forget to care for your pastor as well! She is much more prone to burnout than you know, so a little care will go a long way.
Caregivers are burned out. Almost all of them. The more burned out they get, the less capable they are of caring for their loved ones. Our elders number more than ever and need more care than ever. There is plenty that we can do to take care of the people that we have who need us so dearly. A future post will address the specifics on these topics.
The good news is, we don’t have to do it alone. There are services that exist for just about anything when it comes to eldercare, burnout, caregiving, you name it. Our church teams don’t have to build elaborate systems and centers - all we need to do is connect the people with the resources that already exist, and that is very meaningful work. It may sound trivial, but for someone who is burned out and can barely figure out what clothes to wear, connecting them with much-needed resources is a God-send.
Is all of this too over-simplistic? Easier said than done? Perhaps. But maybe that’s just one of those old ideas that needs to be let go of. It’s up to you to find out.