Blog post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
I had the greatest physician when I was in Milwaukee! She was from India, a Hindu who did community health clinics in the African American community, and she knew what to say to get my attention! After one of my check-ups, she wanted to make sure I was eating a healthy diet. She sent me to a nutritionist and said in a stern voice, “Don’t you start eating crazy on me, or we’re gonna have a problem!” I hear those words every time I want to gorge on sweets or fried foods. Her diagnosis changed my behavior.
We are coming to the end of the calendar year and it is an excellent time for congregations and sessions to perform a diagnosis. Now would be the time to schedule a planning retreat, review committees, and blow the dust off of the strategic plan to see if the church has been following it. The three questions asked in the book Holy Conversations by Gil Rendle and Alice Mann still apply. They are, “Who are we?”, “What has God called us to do or be?”, and “Who is our neighbor?” I would add a fourth question, “What do we do best?”
Congregations do many things from music, liturgy, day care, feeding ministry, various building uses, etc. Congregations are a bundled institution. They are more like newspapers with several items to attract readers: editorial pages, puzzles, comics, ads, etc. Another example is that congregations are more like Sears with clothing, lawnmowers, and refrigerators. What would happen if we unbundled ministries and committees? What if congregations separated all that they do, and then asked, “What do we do best?”
Perhaps 2019 can be the year of focus for your congregation. What if a congregation focused more on what it does best- worship, music, children’s education, etc. and enhanced that ministry. Perhaps that “thing” which the congregation is known for becomes the ministry focus which other new ideas orbit around. I’m not suggesting what churches should stop doing, but I’m suggesting churches should focus their energy, resources, and imagination. There was a time when congregations had the resources to be all things to all people, but for many that time has passed. Perhaps now is the time when churches need to be more focused and less scattered.
I’m interested to hear what your congregation plans are for the new year. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or respond to this blog.
Rev. Craig M. Howard