Church Skills: “Congregations Gone Wild” (NYTimes)

If you watched the videos from the last post, thank you. And now you’re one step ahead.

The next step is to read this article in the NYTimes online.

Now, compare the two.  And think about how your congregation works.

Does your congregation ask and answer the Three Key Questions? If so, what is the role of your minister and other leaders?

Or, like the Times article says, do people in your congregation “increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them”?  If so, what is the role of the minister and other leaders?

All of this, really, is about mission.  Soothing and entertaining the members and visitors is NOT a sufficient mission for a congregation. It isn’t healthy for clergy or members or leaders or visitors or the world.  It is not what our congregations are meant to be or do.

And sadly, more and more, it seems the consumer culture is influencing churches rather than the other way around.  But we can change that. A church with a mission can be a counter-cultural force that encourages people to believe, remember, and live lives that have a higher purpose and a deeper calling.

And that will keep us all from burning out.

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One thought on “Church Skills: “Congregations Gone Wild” (NYTimes)

  1. I read the NYT article. The UU ministers I’ve heard do afflict the comfortable and encourage a counter-cultural lifestyle — one short on consumption but long on relationships, some kind of spiritual practice and service. I feel like I’m continually told to have a higher purpose and a deeper calling at my UU congregation.

    The three questions remind me very much of the culture of my congregation — we are encouraged to discover our gifts, then find the place where our greatest gift meets the world’s (or congregation’s) greatest need. Both Thomas Merton and Parker Palmer say this, but I know because we learned it at my UU church.

    Over the years, I’ve seen many UUs quit their jobs to do something lower-paying but much more fulfilling, or move to a smaller home, or go back to school to follow their passion, learn to live in a more sustainable way, or increase their level of giving, all prompted in part by what we’ve learned through UU sermons, retreats, workshops, and lectures. I quit my paid job in order to help found and grow the covenant group ministry program at my church. Did that for six years! My spouse and I were confident that we could afford to do it and that it was the “right” thing to do in our circumstances. What gave us the confidence? All the counter-cultural stuff we learned!

    Love your blog!

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