Monday, July 16, 2007

Questions

I took Benny to a VBS today - I'm so happy for him and the fun he will have. I happened to see a couple of people from my old church. One of them didn't stop to talk much with me. The other talked with me for awhile. I like those people. People who can still be my friend even though we don't go to the same church anymore.

On the fourth of July, we saw another couple. The man of this couple, greeted us warmly. The woman of the couple didn't. She wouldn't come over to say hello to me. This person was someone I considered a good friend of mine. I felt like I did a lot for her - encouraged her as a leader, promoted her as a speaker and babysat her children. When we left our old church, I emailed her a few times to check in, in order to say "Hey - I still want to be your friend." She dropped off the face of the earth. So, in a way, I wasn't surprised she didn't acknowlege me. It still kind of hurt, though. I didn't go to her on the fourth of July, because I'm tired of being hurt. If she hadn't spoken to me in over a year, why would she want to now? It really sucks.

The thing is, I still love the people I loved there. That isn't any different. The difference is, we're not in the mix of that church anymore. I continued to contact the people I knew most closely, but wasn't getting much in return. Once I stopped, there was nothing. It left me feeling that I didn't have any real friends in the first place. Owie, that hurts. Especially when I felt like I poured myself out in that place.

But, maybe that was the problem. I poured too much of myself out. This friend from the old church that I was talking with today, was telling me that people were asking her to do more volunteering for a new ministry starting up. She already has three kids, works part-time, serves in a MOPS ministry and works in the church nursery. I said, "Say No. Don't burnout like I did. Your first ministry is to your children."

Why does the leadership think it's OK to ask people to overextend themselves in the name of "service?" Why would they want people to sacrifice their health and their families? If they don't have enough warm bodies to run the programs they want to run, then maybe they shouldn't have those programs! Then again, maybe the leadership is doing the same thing, and it's a trickle-down effect. If so, I really worry about the future of this church. There's going to be some major leadership burnouts, that will probably include some big sins and a lot of hurt people.....It's scary and sad, because it is preventable. It will take some major paradigm shifts to change it..... or a major crisis. I'm praying it's not the crisis.....

5 comments:

Organized Chaos said...

Leadership aside, it is so true that 10% of people do 90% of the work...true in a school, a church, a business, the AF. It is just human nature that some step up to the plate and some take or just get by...not saying it's right, but if that is the reality then the church itself, the people of the church are really at fault for not sharing the weight of responsibilities involved in running church...not being a well funcitoning body but relying on the hands alone to do all the work.

Jodi said...

I agree with your point. It can be very true that 90% of the work is done by 10% of the people. I've definitely seen that firsthand. However, I am in a church that doesn't allow this. The leadership takes care of themselves, their families and those that are in ministry. It's a wonderful example that has a trickle-down effect. There is not a culture of overcommitment, nor is there a pressure to "do it all" in order to be of value. Things are kept simple (not too many programs), and there is adequate staffing. The focus is on loving people and loving God, not on church growth.

And you're right, the people of the church are really at fault for not sharing the responsibilities, but I also believe that everything rises and falls with the leaders! It is the leaders who set the tone, the atmosphere, the culture of the church. And, if the leaders themselves are overextended, neglecting their families and headed toward burnout, the people will only follow.

Chelle said...

Right with ya Jodi. I am thankful to be a part of a church that takes care of its flock. Today, during a meeting with the women's director concerning the fitness class I co-lead, she said, "How are you all doing? I want to make sure you are getting adequate rest because I want this to be a blessing, not a burden to you." What an incredible, sweet statement! I am so thankful!

Our leadership is fantastic, and sets a great standard for the rest of us that is not about busyness at all, it's rare these days I think to find a place more concerned with the souls of the people than how many people are there.

Jodi said...

That's awesome, Chelle. It sounds like you are in a really cool church! I think you're cool, too. :)

RoRo said...

hi - just found this post, and can relate to your story about losing contacts, no matter how hard you tried. It's painful, for sure! I'm sure that part of the impetus for our 4-state move was due to the fact that we had burned out in our church (that, and affordable housing). We would have had to make some radical changes, like you did, to save our sanity. I think the move was easier! I'm sure that the pain is less now than it would be if we'd made the changes and stayed in the same town.

We worked and worked, with no timelines. We were greeted with odd looks whenever it was time to stop in one ministry area, and quickly started up in another! For years I viewed Sundays as just another work day, and missed out on the connections that people who weren't working their tailbones off made on Sundays! Most of my friends moved on over the years, to greener pastures (usually out of state), and I eventually wound up with a group of acquaintances, but no friends. Now that I'm gone I only hear regularly from one person in our old church. My husband and I want to serve again in our new church, but not right away. It's important, but we need to get past a few hurdles first. It's weird to not be in the inner circle, but I'm getting use to it. I will serve again, but never again will I let church service take over my life, or lose myself in the process. I'd love to hear your story. I'll email you.