Thursday, November 20, 2008

Questions about missional communities and time???

Where do we find the time?

When I led a church in England I used to put people under pressure to give more time. Primarily because this was how I had been mentored, you gave yourself to the church.....

When I got married in 1992, I was the children's worker in the church and was asked to also help develop a youth programme. I remember the leaders sitting down with Tracy and myself and drawing out a schedule for us. Monday night was clear, Tuesday night I did a kids club, Wednesday night we had a home group, every other Thursday night we had a training evening, Friday night a pre teens youth club, Saturday night we did stuff with the older youth, Once a month on a Sunday we had to an evening youth church as well as every Sunday morning the normal Sunday service. Alongside all these clubs we had to go to the various organizing meetings for these clubs! My wife worked as an accountant and I was at college. The interesting thing about this is that we agreed to it and have since looked back with a little regret that we were so busy during the early years of our marriage, years we will never live again! Obviously we also both had family and friends that we had to fit into this schedule and that was extremely difficult.

As time went on and children came along our lives became less busy, but not totally. We were always under time pressure. I once heard a programme on radio 4 (You can tell that I am getting old, I think Radio 4 is a great station) and the guy said "We live in a cash rich and time poor society" obviously in todays financial climate we don't feel so cash rich but I do feel it is true.

Most christians have jobs, families and friends that they have to juggle alongside the demands of church life, we end up with a sense of guilt or uneasiness that we are letting people down in one or more of these areas, because we are just to busy. Most of the church leaders I know don't have loads of time for their already existing friends yet alone time to make new ones.... I have seen one or two good examples of leaders making time for others, whether that be buying a season ticket for a football club or joining a gym, or even giving a day a week to some other form of employment but it's the exception not the rule.

So where does that leave us? How do we build effective life giving and life supporting communities that don't drain people of time.

The first thing is "If we always do what we have always done, we will always have what we always had", something needs to change.

I'm not sure I have the answers, but I do think that programme driven churches will have to change. We have to make church simpler.

Are smaller communities less time intensive?

Do the churches that teach on the need to reach the lost really giving their members time to do so?

Where does church come in our list of priorities, Family, Friends, Employment, Church?

With the above question is church a meeting to be attended or a life to be lived?

Aren't we being church wherever we are, what ever we are doing?

If church is a life to be lived rather than a programme to be attended, what can we put in place to facilitate this?

What could we do without?

I would be really interested in suggestions????



Tanya Heasley said...

I'm so with your thinking.

It's tricky because whatever is left out will please some, but not others.

Years ago my friend and I would meet up every morning Mon-Fri to read the Bible and pray (well, she did most of the praying because I wasn't a Christian then). I look back and think that was my first church.

Some people may disaggree and say it wasn't a church, but I say it was as the 'programme' is the same as my church now. We come together in Jesus name, worship him, have a bit of teaching and hang out with each other. The difference between them is now I'm in a church with more members who predominately come together on just a Sunday and I have less intimacy with those members.

What works for me is smaller groups of people who I can give my time to in a qualitative way. I want intimacy, not quantity.

Mark G said...

Church = gathering (2+). I say more gatherings less services (sounds more like something that happens to my my car). Maybe it should be a revoloving circle of gathering - encouraging - sending (then meeting people on their own territory)and so back to gathering?

Mie said...

I have seen that craziness and never want to step on that band wagon again! I think it is simply crazy when people work full time and then they have another nearly full time job at the church - no space for life or for relationships. I am avoiding that best as I can. I value my relationships, my friends, family, my own sanity too much. How can I hear God too if I never stop and am just busy all the time. I've been part of a great church in the past, where they took care that no one does too much - when I showed signs of having too much on they told me to take a break :) I felt very much loved and cared for and appreciated - not like my acceptance was based on what I did or on my performance. So I think creating that kind of atmosphere is quite important. You are more than what you do. I think it all comes down to appreciating people as they are and as persons rather than seeing them simply as a tool to get where I (a pastor, leader - not referring to myself here though) want to be/want the church to be. Seeing the value in the human being and in a relationship with that person. And getting to know them :)

I am Diane said...

I think if God has called us to be in an organised church setting we need to pioneer to show others how one can serve and be a part without getting caught up in the doing.
We are in the process of trying to disciple friends in this without adding to the stuff they are doing. We dont want to be another programme.
That is the hard bit.