I am soooo frustrated with church at the moment…of course it could just be depression and hormones speaking…but here is how I imagine church…please comment if you think it could be a reality.
Church is a community, a family and on that score my church scores highly, people support each other, my home-group even has an ongoing prayer message on Facebook.However does everyone get supported by someone? There is the lady with bipolar who has dinners covered for 3 nights in the week from 3 different families who have adopted her…but then on the other hand there is the 2 oldest members of our congregation, both in their 90’s can’t get to church and get much less frequent visits by anyone. Church should be about pastoral care…but should that come from the vicar/leaders, a team of pastoral carers or just run in an organic way, hoping that people were supported by their friends in the community. My vicar has in the past been really supportive to me…yet recently I text him to say I was feeling really low and suicidal…and he never followed up a day or two later so see if I was feeling any better…in fact 6 weeks later he still hasn’t.
I imagine that church should be a school, a place where we learn and grow, a place when we are challenged, a place where we can ask questions and wrestle with difficult issues. I imagine learning takes place in services, and also in small groups. That we are changed from year to year through it, rather than being bored and hearing irrelevant noise. A school that has something to feed everyone…the baby Christian to the experienced Christian, the auditory, visual and kinesthetic learner. Yet in my church to be fed…I listen to podcasts from other churches and go to conferences.
I imagine church as a place where we are hungry to worship Him and to spend time in his presence, I want to hear Him, and bless Him. Perhaps I need to learn to engage in this way regardless of the style of music…
I imagine a church where people are known and encouraged to develop their gifts. Where people are released into new roles, not just the same people doing the same things. Where seasons are appreciated and where you might once have taught the children, now perhaps God is calling you to become a lay reader.Where new musicians are added to the music team. Where people are enabled to help in children’s work before being expected to be able to lead the whole thing. Where we build capacity and are less speedy to discount people. To enable people to do what they can…so you can’t do gardening on a Saturday morning…but you could after coffee morning…great, welcome on board.
I imagine a church where people who serve (who volunteer) are appreciated and thanked. That they are given the appropriate training, rather than dumped in it. That any changes are communicated clearly before the event, rather than once you are already doing it wrong because you didn’t mind read correctly!! Its soup lunch this week…so heat the soup and serve…before serving the teas and coffees, its cafe church this week, come early to set up, the drinks will be served at the start and middle, not at the end.
I imagine a church where ideas are taken on board, weighed up and nurtured into being. I went to a church where the leaders weren’t interested in suggestions unless you were willing to run them – that is fine. What is not fine is when suggestions fall on deaf ears, never encouraged, never permitted to start. People with ideas and passion for those ideas can be harnessed to make a difference. Ignoring them leads to stagnation and frustration. Again there are seasons…we might have always run Guides….but perhaps now we need to invest in a youth bible study instead. Perhaps the home group has got tired, but there is room for dance workshops or art based bible studies.
I imagine churches learning to work in partnership with other churches. We staff our night shelter by working in partnership with other local churches…but what about youth work, community projects…could we not work together at times, rather than against each other, making a better project, with the people who really have a heart for it, not just guilt tripped into helping.
What do you imagine the church to look like? Is there a church like the one I would like to imagine? Please comment.