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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.