First of all, Happy Halloween to all my ghost and goblin loving peeps! I have been so impressed (and also rather disturbed) by my neighbors’ love of halloween being displayed through their “decorations.” It has provided for some very interesting questions and conversations with every trip in and out of the neighborhood, especially as we pass the yard fully transformed into a graveyard complete with an impaled baby doll.
On to the point of this post:
One misconception that many of us hold while of serving on a large church staff is the assumption that people care. I came to the realization several years ago that no one outside of the room will care nearly as much as those around the table. So we sometimes get our feelings hurt, because we have poured so much of ourselves into planning only to have people we love reject the best laid plan (in our minds anyway).
Here’s the reason why sometimes people seem not to care: people actually have real lives. You know, as in spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, jobs, sports, hobbies, deadlines, etc.; all of which take precedence over my “great idea” for ministry. My biggest fear is that we will spend a disproportionate amount of our time and energy discussing the details of a service, program, or event about which no one else really cares.
So how do we plan as the local church in a way that does not compete with the real lives of those who we serve. Here are a few questions to consider:
Who else can be around the table? Those of us in “professional ministry” need to have as many people with real lives and real jobs around the table to make sure that what we are planning is helpful. We are not in ministry TO the rest of the church. We are in ministry WITH the rest of the church TO the world. When the only minds around the table are church staff, we can come up with some really wack ideas. (Of course we also develop some of the most beautiful ideas at the same time.)
Is what we are planning actually being helpful to everyone or causing more stress for the sake of just doing something? Many of the things we plan compete with the regular rhythms of life in our particular context and culture. (Sometimes they even compete with other ministries within the same church that target the same group of people!) This just adds unnecessary burden and stress on people who may feel guilty about not being able to participate.
Are we being cute, rather than competent? Our ideas are our babies and, although everybody thinks their baby is the cutest, not all babies are so adorable. Too often, we feel the need to come up with clever names and acronyms, but we end up just being confusing and adding a space that outsiders must traverse just to be involved.
As we continue to develop 801South (this post was meant to be an update on everything we have going on within the new ministry, but has devolved into a rant—a hopefully helpful rant) these are questions that we need to consider for the sake of simplicity and providing the most helpful use of time for everyone involved—those on the inside and on the outside.
In what ways do you sometimes see the church being more cute than competent and how can we work to plan ministry that is helpful to those outside of the room?