November 18, 2009
Lots of shifting going on these days.
People moving, changing jobs, dropping "unneccesary" stuff, adding "what really matters."
Watching their commitments.
Looking for stuff that will help them manage the pressures and tightness of life AND
dropping stuff that "really isn't helping," but instead is just draining energy and using up time.
It seems that in a lot of places people are more restless...unpredictable....less resilient...less committed.
I think of recent stories of long-time members just disappearing, people who made promises seeming to forget them quickly.
Result? Pastors feeling abandoned and overloaded....too much to do, and too few to do it.
A tough situation
but not a new one.
(Wasn't it Paul who wrote, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" - II Timothy 4:10? Or as The Message renders it, "Demas, chasing fads....went off ...and left me here."
So how can we get a hold of some glue that will make the church more cohesive?
Here is a short list of ideas on getting more Glue.
Glue 1: Be clear on the issue of commitment.
If people sense that we are committed without wavering, it will increase their likelihood of being committed as well. Have you told them these times challenge you too?...but you have heard from the Lord to stand firm? Sometimes churches have had such a history of pastoral change and instability that they must say within, "why should I hang tough here?"
Glue 2: Regularly encourage those who are sticking strong.
Everyone is drawn to stability and continuance as they sense that what they are doing really matters. If you are leading them, one of your big responsibilities is to see that they know they matter and are appreciated on a regular basis. (Not just once a year in a formal manner!) Be lavish in your gratefulness to people. All the time. Get creative here too....have fun, and celebrate faithfulness.
Glue 3: As a leader, share your life with those you lead.
Jesus walked hundreds of miles with, foraged with, ministered alongside, struggled with, and risked with his followers. It was life that drew them in, not just words. It was not meeting-based...it was life-based. (And He lost a few too.)
They were in on His life and it motivated them greatly. It increased their love for Him and their willingness to die for Him.
Glue 4: Always try to relate even the smallest of tasks to the big picture.
People need to know that cleaning up a room is critical to the larger picture of people being a part of the Family of God, living in an orderly and appealing manner. Even the smallest strokes of the brush are part of the whole picture.
Glue 5: Make sure everyone knows the protocol of coming AND going.
Disengaging is a process just as coming and engaging is. Did they suddenly leave because they had no idea how to do it otherwise - and their discomfort made that an easy choice? (Incidentally, being willing to be open here, will draw most people towards you. It will also build character in them for their business and life relationships.)
Glue 6: When people complete a term of service or big task, be sure to debrief with them and thank them.
Sometimes people lead poorly...and then live with an internal negative backwash and that adds to the desire to leave and escape the whole scene (ie church). Debriefing will help greatly.
Also, don't let leaders just go on and on and on letting people serve...that sometimes precipitates an exit when a sabbatical from leadership would be so much better for everyone.
Glue 7: Make sure Jesus is on board actively with you.
His presence is truly the greatest cohesive plus in any church that would be strong.
Paul put it this way: "Everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible...
everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body." Colossians 1:17ff.
Finally, don't beat yourself up when people leave. That will only take precious energy away that is really needed. I remember counting over 200 who had moved, left, disappeared in just one year when the church was otherwise thriving. (But more than 200 had come - :))
Keep adding the glue....and when that is not enough, don't accept the gloom.