A View from the Pew

Last week I asked a person from my congregation to be a ghost writer on my blog. I assured them I would not tell who they were. When they asked what I wanted them to write about I told them that I’d love to know from someone who sits in the pew, “What do you feel are 3 things we are doing really well and what 3 things are we really struggling with.” I wasn’t afraid of the constructive criticism because I think we regularly need to ask questions like these. By far the WORST things churches/people can do is focus only on their strengths without trying to improve in their weak areas.

When I received the article for this post, there weren’t any surprises. Things I knew we were struggling with, they noticed too. What I did need to see was the shortcomings from their perspective. Our goal here is to keep doing what we’re doing in the strong areas and find new ways to address the areas in which we struggle. Here’s what they had to say …

A VIEW FROM THE PEW

I’m writing to share a list of six observations from the perspective of an ordinary member of our local church: three of them are compliments and three are opportunities.

What we are doing well:

  1. We’ve always done a good job of ministering to those within our congregation, but I’m proud of what I view as movement toward service to a broader community.  When we recognize need and respond to it, we are imitating Jesus.
  2. We are generous, and our contributions are being used well.  I know of more than 10 missionaries our small congregation has supported in the last 2 years, and I know God is pleased to see it.
  3. We value kids.  There are children eruptions: before, during and certainly after every service.  We include teenagers in our public worship, and I’m proud of their participation.  Churches that struggle to find young families and plug-in their youth are an endangered species…I’m glad I feel like an old guy at church.

What we still struggle with:

  1. Although we try very hard to be welcoming, our church still isn’t a reflection of our community…we are generally upper-middle class white folks.  Good people, but not necessarily representative of our town.  People are generally most comfortable with people who look and act in similar ways, but our congregation has to figure out how to overcome our tendency toward familiarity.
  2. We sometimes don’t allow people to work through their problems, and mistakenly think church is a gathering of people who have things sorted out.  The church in Corinth included troubled members.  Paul calls them Christians, and encourages them to practice their faith while growing in it.  We could do more of that.
  3. Christians are generally conservative, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.  But there is a tension between the conservative value of personal responsibility and Jesus’ example of unconditional self-sacrifice.   How do you think Jesus feels when he sees us miss opportunities because we don’t believe others have earned our help?  I’m glad his grace isn’t something I have to earn.

 

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
13 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Rick Morgan says:

    From our pews this past Sunday my pastor had everybody with mobile internet to tweet and post on their Facebook “God has great plans for you. http://www.christfellowshiptampa.com

  2. Char says:

    Wow… I love this guest post! I’m not a part of your congregation, but Struggle #2 hit me… going to be chewing on that one today.

  3. Very good post. #2 is probably a much bigger deal in the Church than we would be willing to recognize. We do tend to give the illusion that coming to Church means you have everything worked out, and confessing to sin on any normal basis is highly unusual in most places (at least in my experience). Paul’s battle cry was that he was the chief of sinners, but praise God who saves him still. That should still be our cry, but I’m afraid we tend to give off the feeling that “if you come here God will instantly fix everything in your life.” But we’re all works in progress, exclaiming the praises of the One who loves us.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Totally agree, Josh. I talked to a woman recently who I encouraged to come to church with me and her exact words were, “I can come to church, my life is a mess right now.”

  4. Angie Cox says:

    I’m curious as to how most will react to struggle #3. That one’s tough for folks in these parts to swallow for some reason. Your ghost writer is absolutely on track with these.

  5. Sarah S. says:

    I think #1 will be taken care of as the congregation continues to serve the community at large. As you touch the community, people will be more inclined to have relationships with members there and start to show up. It will take a few brave souls to be the ones to show up AND STAY when no one looks like them, whether it be by the way they dress or their skin color or whatever. But I believe that will happen in time. I have seen the church where I worship continue to evolve over the 9 years we have been here in that direction — but we still have a LOT of room to go.

    I think #2 and #3 are accurate and struggles for Christians in general, not just YOUR church. I visited a congregation this weekend that had an undertone of “we aren’t perfect people… here are things we struggle with” without beating themselves up, and while claiming the victory we have in Christ. It wasn’t a defeatist attitude, but a very subtle undertone not present in many churches. I noticed little things like a thorough prayer for things everyone in the room might be struggling with: financial worries, unemployment or the worry of it, addictions, etc. I appreciated it so much.

    #3 will be more up to the individual believer I would think and will vary wildly within churches.

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Sarah … you are totally right. And when your church figures out 2 & 3, please share the details. I think these will always be a struggle in most churches.

  6. Lee says:

    Trey,

    I’m listening to your podcast sermon right now, and I love hearing the kids “crying” in the audience. I know it probably annoys their parents (I’ve been there!), but it speaks volumes that you’ve got parents there who are trying to train their children properly. These kids are the church of the future.

    Keep up the good work, brother!
    Lee

    • Trey Morgan says:

      Lee, We are so full of kids. I’m not sure where they are all coming from, but I’m glad they are here. :)

      Thanks for always being such an encouragement to me.

  7. Jana says:

    From a stranger looking in. I see a church striving to follow what God wants them to do. I don’t live in Childress and I am not a member of the Church of Christ, but seeing what you all are doing and your committment to Jesus, I have to say this is the type of church in which I want to belong.
    May God bless you richly.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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