...are the ones that make the biggest difference

7.01.2004

Troubled

My wife and I had a long talk last night, which is unfortunately, one of many we've had in a similar vein over the last few weeks. The basic format is the same; we aren't really happy here, we're not happy with the way this church is being run, we don't feel like we fit in, etc, etc. I think we are gradually coming to some kind of resolution - leaving this church (which entails me quitting my job as the youth pastor) - but that likely will not happen for some time. I have a strong sense of commitment, particularly when it comes to work, and I don't feel like I could quit before next summer. It wouldn't be fair to the staff, the church (considering the money they gave us to assist with moving costs and bringing us out for the interviews) or, more importantly to me, the kids. I don't want them to feel like we're abandoning them and they all really want to go on an international missions trip next summer. If I leave that won't happen and I don't want to disappoint them, especially knowing how powerful those experiences can be.

Right now, my wife and I are just extremely dissatisfied with what is happening here and feel, in some ways, like this church was mispresented to us in the hiring process. The staff is not at all close and I can go an entire week without speaking to my senior pastor outside of the staff meeting. There is very little comraderie and little to no outside interaction between staff members. They also made a big deal about their small groups, but I think its been close-to, or over, a year since they started the last one and the person in charge of the small groups ministry is the full-time area director for Campus Crusade who has little time to really devote to the ministry. I think my wife hit it on the head when she said the staff here act like their church is a lot bigger than it really is. Including kids, we're only around 400, but to hear the staff talk you'd think we were triple that size and a major player in our community. They hired me about 4 months ago, just hired a part-time children's director and are talking about adding another secretary as well as launching a building campaign in the fall. To us, this feels forced. They've been talking to a very well-known growth consultant and he has given them advice on how to grow and it seems like they're trying to plug stuff into the formula as opposed to seeking ways to facilitate more organic growth. The distinction I'm trying to make is difficult to clearly communicate, but the process they are following appears mechanical; add a youth pastor, get a bigger building, do X, Y and Z and you will increase attendance by 50%. Then, you add A, B and C, adjust the valves a bit and you'll get 200% growth. It doesn't feel Spirit-lead. Add this to the unsatisfying worship experience and the fact that we don't feel at all like we're a part of this community and we're feeling like there are some significant problems.

This has been kind of rambling, I know, but things are still swirling around in my head so its hard to make it come out clean.

4 comments:

Karl Thienes said...

Nathan,

At least you and your wife are on the same page. It would be much more difficult if only one of you felt this way....

Nathan said...

Actually, if anything my wife is far more ready to leave than I am. Since she doesn't work at the church, she feels even more disconnected. We've been talking more and more about our experience at the Orthodox parish we attended for a few months and comparing it to our experience here, but I'll post more on that later.

Karl Thienes said...

"Actually, if anything my wife is far more ready to leave than I am. Since she doesn't work at the church, she feels even more disconnected."

That makes sense.

"We've been talking more and more about our experience at the Orthodox parish we attended for a few months and comparing it to our experience here, but I'll post more on that later."

Looking forward to that post! My in-laws, before they were Orthodox, used to alternate between a Presbyterian and Orthodox parish and the back and forth schedule helped them come to some interesting conclusions...

Anonymous said...

DID YOUR WIFE AND YOU DISCUSS THE POSSIBILITY THAT MAYBE GOD CHOSE THE BOTH OF YOU TO BE THIER TO HELP WITH THE SITUATION. LOVE BREEDS LOVE, KINDNESS BREEDS KINDNESS, AND A QUARREL WITHOUT A FIGHT SOON DIES DOWN. PRAY ABOUT IT WITH GOD BEFORE YOU ASK OTHERS THEIR OPINIONS