As we continue to face the realities of church life every single day (smaller numbers, resources stretched thin, etc.) we are all asking the questions about how to turn the trends of shrinking and dwindling around. We look for technical fixes that we can implement tomorrow that will bring results next week. We want the best Sunday School curriculum to entice all of the children (and their parents) of our community to spend the beginning of their week with us. We pile a lovely stack of gifts at the back of the sanctuary to be given to each and every visitor that walks through the door in order to tell them how loved they are, even as strangers, in our home and to invite them to return again the following week. We analyze budgets and cut, cut, cut. We trim all the fat and let go of all the extras.
And some of these technical fixes can be helpful. But they will not reverse a trend of decline unless they are the product of asking the bigger question that looms, “Why do we do church?” And attached to that question, “Why does this particular congregation do church?” When we know those answers, then we are able to begin to create ideas, programs, approaches, to help us live that purpose more fully and successfully.
I commend to you a wonderful TED talk from YouTube by Simon Sinek in 2011 about the power of “why” in motivating behavior and in leadership:
Start with this question, “Why does your church do church?” When your leadership can all answer this confidently, succinctly, and similarly, then move on to the next question.
“How should we do church?”
And then, “What shall we do as church?”
These are the kinds of questions that will lead to the deeper meaningful growth, well beyond the technical fixes and programs, that have the greatest hope of rebooting the faith communities of our Conference. They are hard questions with even more difficult answers. But they are powerful and full of holiness. May you be blessed in your discernment and wondering and may the Holy Spirit pour out insight and inspiration in your midst!
Blessings for the Journey,