I was at a confrence last weekend. And at this confrence, I started to make some connections that has gotten me thinking. This conference was about church size and how that effects church culture.
I was raised in a church that at one service we broke the barrier between “Program Church” and “Corporate Church.” And that didn’t take into account the other 4 services that Sunday. So I grew up knowing that I was not going to have a lot to say about changes that occurred or not having a lot of really close ties within the congregation. I knew the other kids who went to school with me, but beyond that, not a whole lot.
I also previously worked in a field where I did a lot of empowering of both colleagues and clients. I would provide them with training and programming to attain their goals, and then allow them to work toward those goals with oversight as needed. The major goal of my job was to empower people, and to assist people. The one thing that I was NOT to do was to do the things for the people. Assist, yes; do for, no.
While in seminary, we were also indoctrinated into the empowerment of the people. We were to “equip the saints” for the work. So this fit in well with my mind-set. I was all ready to jump in and train, empower, and equip.
But then, I realized, I got put into a Family Sized Church. In the Family Sized Church, the pastor is the “hired chaplain.” The pastor is there to do the things that the matriarch or patriarch or the congregation wants you to do. It also is the place where empowering of the people is NOT appreciated and actively protested.
So I come strolling into these small churches expecting to energize and empower the people and they are expecting me to carry out their bidding. This is why I so often get frustrated! I am used to things happening in a church that I have no knowledge of and am ok with this. I get frustrated when I, as the leader, do things and have people go ballistic! This is starting to make sense to me!
It seems that for the majority of my clergy career, I have been in the wrong place. I am trying to do what I know and keep getting beaten-down. I keep getting beat down because what I am trying to do is not appropriate for the community I am serving. I wish someone had told me this earlier! I keep feeling like I must be flawed in some form, but in reality, it is just a wrong fit.
So, now how do I deal with this situation? How do I grow on my end to be able to serve, and lead(!), these people? How can I take what I know and do what needs to be done? This is the tough part. (And quite frankly, the part I really don’t want to do!)