Saturday, November 13, 2010
Supporting My Ministry or Supporting THE Ministry?
Except... Except that I am beginning to wonder about what is and is not happening at this parish. I find, not unlike other parishes, that even though our membership is growing, our attendance on Sunday morning is not. Even though we have tons of kids on the rolls, the number of children in Sunday school, catechism, and youth group is not going up. Even though we draw from many different economic classes, our general fund income and our support of missions has not changed much in 5-6 years. Even though we have celebrated a great history of 50 years with passionate speakers who helped us give thanks for this past and look to the future, we have not faced the future with the hope that we should as a congregation and a people in Christ.
Sometimes I wonder if it is me... Have I done what I need to in order to make the focus on THE ministry instead of on MY ministry? It is often easy to give the impression or for people to assume that their job is to support the Pastor in HIS work instead of seeing THEIR work of worship, witness and service. So, I am doing some thinking about this and what I can do to help instill the proper understanding of the work of the kingdom in this place. It is not MY ministry that the folks who sit in the pew are to support but my ministry of Word and Sacraments to help them in their own baptismal vocation to the world as instruments of the Word in witness and in service to Christ's through their acts of mercy and compassion to the people around them.
I want people to be passionate about support wholeheartedly the work of the Kingdom. I don't want their passion to be directed toward me only or my ministry as their Pastor. I want people to understand what I do as Pastor not as the end goal but as the very means to their own sacrificial self-offering as the baptized doing the work of the Kingdom -- carrying what gathers the assembly on Sunday morning into the places where they live and work during the week. The congregation that I want to serve is not a support group to the Pastor. Long ago I remember saying to someone that our goal was every member of Grace in worship and Bible study and Christian service every week. It was not phrased all that well but the goal remains the same.
In a sense I am reassured by the three fold emphasis now being used in Synod: Witness, Mercy, Life Together... This is what we need to hear not only on the national level but in the congregation.