Friday, March 11, 2022

A church in retreat

I can see my church rolling back.

We sometimes have 'retreats'. Now we've made it a strategy, it seems. We are in full retreat.

Years ago we helped to found a local educational ministry with other local churches. We can no longer find a volunteer to be on the joint committee. Christians might not like committees, but without them nothing gets organised.

We did have outreach type activities every day of the week. Then it went down to three days a week, now we're down to two days a week. None of these produce any real flow of Sunday attendances or enrollment in short courses, so why do we do them?

Our Easter Fair was a bit of a local thing. Not enough volunteers. Can't run it.

Prayer before our Sunday meetings? No. No time, no interest to convene it.

There's a local 'market' once a month. We could have a booth there and sell crafts produced by our mission partners' villages, offer 'fair trade' coffee (I don't think this has any real benefit, but it would allow us to offer free coffee without seeming to compete with others). Then we could use this for quiet outreach activities with volunteers trained to initiate conversations that lead somewhere. No one is interested.

Our youth ministry has fallen flat. Partly due to demographics, partly not.

We make no contribution to local school religious education ministry.

I don't quite know what we do.

We outsource our efforts in family development to secular organisations with secular commitments including to sex confusion (one organisation we host has terminated an employee for standing against its rejection of men's needs).

We do have some courses that are helpful, but not properly targeted (maybe because these needs are not promoted from the pulpit); we have nothing for developing skills in faith conversation, regular courses in grounding faith (for new Christians), and the bones of Christian faith, practice and history. These only need to be 'term' long: that's 10 weeks.

We don't do anything to celebrate and encourage ministry contributions: I could image both an inaugural celebration for group ministers (servants, the biblical idea, not 'leaders', the worldly idea), with perhaps a special morning tea or lunch, similarly at year end; we could have a celebration of our church's founding; maybe not on the date, but on Pentecost!

In the past we've partnered with a small rural church for encouragement and support, and mutual edification. We lost interest!

We do nothing for men or separately for women; true we have lots of home groups; maybe that's good, but I don't know. Men particularly miss out in church, which are very woman dominated in the volunteering effort, and have few occasions to get together as men and do man things. I don't mean tritely, but just a dinner and a guest speaker three times a year would help. Off that we could develop a men's group for monthly fellowship, prayer and discussion. We did have bi-monthly breakfasts, but they've gone. Another local church has a weekly men's breakfast. Has done for decades. But not us.

We're in retreat.

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