I am 2 months into my first call to a family size church (worships ~ 90 each Sunday and 20 children in SS) in suburban community. The church has been through 5 pastors in the past 5 years and has been on 'survival mode'. Many of the officers and active families are experiencing burnout. It would be so helpful to hear some thoughts from you all on different ways to approach these symptoms of the bigger systemic issue facing our church. The ever-changing church in today's society facing so much 'competition' -- i.e. sports, work, family - that there isn't as much energy for church.
What are some options to resolve the symptoms (short term) while focusing on the larger, long-term issues?
Matriarch Jennifer writes:
Your question has several facets. You ask about how to help active church folks with “burn-out” and you raise some cultural issues (priorities and cultural demands) as well something that’s particular to your setting (5 pastors in as many years).
Don’t know your denomination, but I’m wondering what kind of resources, support and background you have regarding so much turnover. It sounds like a draining situation for a congregation to have almost constant change. Perhaps consulting some folks who know your setting, but are one step removed would be helpful.
Spending time listening to those who have invested time and effort within your church family will be important. What brings them joy? What is energy draining? Are there programs and activities that have run their course? Is it time for your governing body to have a thoughtful conversation about what’s most needed, and what can pass by the wayside as you grow in strength and energy is restored? Are there people who are being overlooked for leadership? Could they make good leaders while some others take a rest? Can some programs take a rest while your congregation assesses what comes next?
Ultimately, I think it’s very important for your congregation’s members to voice what they need most for their souls to sing. When folks are invited to identify what they think are the highest priorities, often the energy to pursue them follows. If “musts” and “shoulds” are imposed upon folks, generally speaking, energy wanes.
Best to you!Jennifer offers a lot of good thoughts here. This is a tough situation! What else would you have to say to this minister?
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