I've been reading a fascinating little book on church leadership... I picked it up at the booksale because I grab anything Christian that I see (as long as it's not blatantly offensive to my sensibilities) and take it along to church to share when I'm done with it. When I looked at the back cover I realised it was written by the former senior pastor of Christ Church Methodist ,where we went to church a few years ago. We only left because the church was TOO big and successful for me to feel like I really served a useful purpose in being there, or to connect with anyone on a personal level. Other than that, the church is wonderful. It is clear that they are dedicated to doing God's work, and they haven't got sidetracked from it since this guy got them restarted.
Interestingly, a LOT of that little book applies equally well to our church, on a smaller scale. We're not all the way there yet... but Pastor Becky has been leading us in the same direction.
Firstly and most importantly, you have to have a vision. Not YOUR vision - God's... what is the vision for our church? But a vision without any way to make it come true is just an illusion. You can sit there and dream about God's Great Plan for your church until the money's all gone and the last parishioner has died of old age without ever making a move to bring it to pass. There are plenty of churches out there who have daydreamed their way into total extinction, and ours was nearly one of them. If the vision is a true one, then when the timing is right, God will send the resources to make it happen. If it's just you wanting it, then you'll tread water as long as you keep trying, but it won't ever really work out because you've been misdirected, or you've rushed it and not waited on Him. Say your vision is to fill the whole church. Why do you want that? Just to get more bums on the seats? To make more money? You can run yourself ragged trying to bring people in the front door, but as fast as you do, they'll be leaving out the back.
We want to have a Contemporary service... we need a drummer and some people who are gifted in this area to help us. We would have liked to do it a year ago... but God hasn't sent us the people. Interestingly, right now we have a good lead on a family who might be able to help us. IF it happens, then that means that yes, it's time for us to do this. I'm excited about it! I really hope that this is a move that God wants us to make this year...
On a personal level, what is God's purpose for YOU? What did He make you for? How do you fit into this vision? What does He want you to do to help make it happen? Why are you working at whatever 'church work' you do? Just because nobody else will do it, or you think you can do it better, or because you can't say no, or because you think that you really SHOULD be doing this? None of them are a good enough reason. If you're doing things under your own power and not His, you're just going to burn yourself out. Everything needs to be driven by GOD. Not us. That means lots of time in prayer and discernment and more prayer... On the churches' part, people have to be empowered to do whatever it is that God has brought them there to do, without getting tied up in bureaucratic red tape. If the right people are in the right places for the right reasons, it will fall into place. If Mary Sue has been given the gift and the drive to step forward and take care of the Altar, then it's up to her to decide how and when to decorate - she doesn't need a committee of ten to argue about whether red roses are permissible in Lent. If she needs help, she'll ask for it. What we need to do is to make sure that everybody is on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Everything we do needs to be to help support the vision for the church.
Like I said, we've been doing a lot of this... but we're still working on it!