Sunday, September 6, 2009

How Old is Your Church?

Had an interesting discussion with a dear friend last week about how pastors (and Church Council leaders) need to take a parental attitude towards the chuch congregation. Spiritual leaders can't (and shouldn't) avoid thinking like dads and mums when it comes to the welfare, nurturing and growth of their flock.

A point I raised was this: What's the age of the 'kid' in question? The parental metaphor and/concern is granted, but the more complex issue is whether or not the church is :
  1. an infant who needs almost 24/7 care and spoon-feeding (think new rural or indigenous churches)

  2. a teenager or young adult who's got lots to learn whilst seeking an identity and struggling with school/work/puberty/etc. (think new urban churches not predisposed to any particular theological framework)

  3. adults who've already established themselves (think churches whose members have been with them for decades and with firm time-tested practices in place)
The best-case scenario is a young church with a vibrant missional spirit of out-reach and growth and learning. In such situations, a good dad would go about equipping his kids even more, encouraging them, etc. Also good is a grown-up church which is still growing strong spiritually.

The worst-case scenario is an old church who still behaves like a child, refusing to grow, to adapt, to impact the world in a more effective way than presently. If this is the case, then a responsible dad wouldn't spare the rod and big shake-up would be due.

So, again, how old is your church? And - if you're one of the leaders - how are your parenting skills?

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