Thursday, August 4, 2005

Winslow's Congregational Email

My apologies to any unlucky reader expecting to see signs of life here over the past few months. I have been making quite a few changes of late, some of which are detailed below. At any rate I am authoring this post mostly to make a record of an email I sent in response to a broadcast made by Winslow to the entire San Diego Church of Christ. I won't post his actual email here since I don't have permission, but suffice to say it was basically state-of-the-congregation-type address, which it turns out is not very good. He showed some statistics on how much the congregation has been shrinking over the past five years, and some plans to combat it. He ended his email with a humble plea to anyone thinking of leaving the church to reconsider and to please speak up. I was moved enough to write back:

Thank you for your heart-felt email. I will share with you some of my thoughts since you took the time to share your heart. Hopefully it will give you some perspective and may help you in your quest to help the church in its current condition.

For the past 12 years I have been a member of the San Diego Church of Christ. However, over the past month-and-a-half I have made the decision to start visiting other churches, doing some soul-searching and trying to get perspective. So far I have gone to a Presbyterian church, an Evangelical church, and a few non-denominational churches. When I first made my decision, I wasn't quite sure all of my reasons — I just began with the realization that although I was attending Sunday church and other meetings regularly, inside I really did not have the desire to go. Since that initial decision I have thought a lot about why I made the choice to step away and have been able to clarify what I have been feeling.

I have been in the singles ministry for the past eight years or so and I think that this fact has a lot to do with my decision. Without ministry growth for the past few years, the dating prospects become pretty hopeless. More than that though, is that without a feeling of investment in the singles, there isn't even much hope for the situation to change. Any investment of staff at this point is probably going to be geared towards the campus ministry, which is completely understandable. Unfortunately I don't think I have another five or ten years to wait for that influence to trickle into the singles ministry. While the Fosters have admirable hearts for the singles ministry and have done a great job overall, their work has been at such a high level and so broad that their influence has not been able to really take hold anywhere, in my opinion.

That is my feeling from the ministry perspective. From the regional perspective, I felt a certain stagnation. Specifically — my region has strengths and weaknesses, most of the pretty obvious. The characteristic strengths would be things like: educated, strong-charactered, influential, eloquent. The main weakness would be: lack of warmth or heart. Now in my mind, this is all completely acceptable — every region, every person, has a personality and character. But if we go so many years without even some kind of plan of growing in or even acknowledgment of these weaknesses, I begin to feel like things will not change, at least not very soon.

At any rate, after doing my best to champion these causes for a few years, I have come to a point where I feel like I am not getting my own needs met sufficiently to continue serving in a sustainable way. So I have decided that for myself, I need to take an active role in my own decisions and find a place that I feel has the resources and potential to help me where I am at. And who knows; I may get to a point someday where I feel strong enough and have been able to incorporate what I've learned and bring it back to the San Diego Church of Christ.

In summary, here are my suggestions, if I may be so bold.

  • Focus on finding a way/learning how to inspire people to desire church growth. For a while I did not think this was important, mostly as a response to feeling forced to for so many years. And unfortunately I think the leadership has shied away from it first because of the backlash, but second and more importantly because I think it doesn't really know how to truly inspire people without control tactics.
  • Humility has not been our church's strong suit especially with regards to other churches. I think that the time has come to swallow our pride and look to grace outside of ourselves and find help and direction from other successful churches. All forms of redemption require a point of realization that we cannot do it by ourselves — why not for the church also?

I am not sure where my steps will lead me at this point in time but for now I consider anything a possibility. Also I hope that in no way has this email been patronizing or condescending or offensive to anyone. Thank you for your time.

Well, we'll see what happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree Vic