I know it probably seems like I court adversity. Maybe I do need to have crises to feel alive, but I don't think so. But with that being said, my congregation is facing another crisis and this could be fatal.
What I find so difficult is we have become a congregation of stagnation. The youngest adult in the congregation is over 40. We have four children who attend. And the modal age must be somewhere in the 60's. The congregation had been very active, but through things such as alcoholic priests, power struggles, and just following the path of least resistance, it has become tired and complacent.
It has lived off of money it had invested after selling the parsonage some years ago. Now with the decline in the economy and the fixed income status of the members, that investment has been taking a harder and harder hit. We are now hitting the account at the rate of $2000 per month just to pay our bills. At this rate, we have about six months left.
I want to believe that God can work miracles, God brought forth the nation of Isreal through Abraham and Sarah, but when I look at the "Sea of Gray" in the congregation, I feel frustrated. How can we be a thriving vibrant congregation when most of our people are not willing to drive at night and are ready to have "the younger people do it"? The "younger people" are getting burnt-out and there was no concerted effort to evangelize. Also, many people have left because of tension and strife in the congregation.
Change has started to happen, some of the "poison people" have moved on, but I think it might be too little too late. The poison has started to dissipate. But we need to make some big changes, fast! I would like to say I am optimistic, but I would be lying. I feel guilty that I cannot authentically say the congregation is going to live.
And with all the crap that happened earlier this year, I cannot say that I would be sad to be moving on to another location.
Please don't feel guilty for doing your best. You can't do it alone, and if nobody else is willing to work, yes the church will fail. If the current congregation doesn't care, it should fail. Then you move on to a congregation that shares your devotion. You're being realistic, which is smart. I don't have to remind you that your faith will guide and sustain you. You can't make or single handedly sustain a solid congregation, but you have the right (and the duty) to serve one. If this is is not a solid congregation, I hope you SOON have the chance to find one. Just keep doing what's best, and YOU won't go wrong. And you end up happier than the current members of your church, so be it.
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