Thursday, March 05, 2009
The Language of Ministry
I'm concerned about a colleague who is missing ques from his congregation.
He's got a vision of where the church should go and a plan for getting there.
Too bad the congregation cannot hear his vision. It's bad for the colleague who finds the congregation frustrating and confusing. He is critical of them and not happy. The congregation sees him as friendly one day and aloof the next day.
If he speaks to me about the situation, I suggest he pivot to another direction to share the vision. Push less and listen more, I suggest to him.
When I hear complaints about his ministry from his congregation, I remind them that he needs to hear from them about the issues. Talk to him, I suggest. He wants to do well in your church as much as you want the church to do well.
I think I know what is going on. The pastor wants to prove something. Maybe he wants to prove his competency or brilliance as a leader. He came with a mission. But did he listen to understand the congregation's understanding of mission? Does he know the language of this congregation or has he been busy teaching them his ideas?
Balance. Discernment. Listening. Trust. We need all of these gifts in ministry.
I can speak to this issue because years ago, I went to a family type church run by one family who called me only because no one else would go there as pastor. I saw the church as a great white field ready for harvest. I saw the growth potential and the mission possibilities. I saw a new heaven and a new earth.
Great for me! No one else wanted growth. Growth meant accommodating people outside the accepted "family" of the congregation. No one wanted mission. Mission would mean giving to others when the congregation's needs were greater than anyone else according to them.
I became frustrated. They became hateful. It was a PAR-TAY of bad communication.
I did not listen to them. They did not listen to me. I had too much energy for a maintenance congregation. They had too much unease with my gender to accept me. I was not blue collar in their eyes. It was a mess.
My colleague is in a similar situation without the class issues. He has cultural dis-connect with them as a non-Southerner. He doesn't listen. They can't hear him.
This is on my mind,
St.Casserole Photo from I Can Haz A Cheeseburger/lol cats