Gavin Richards put up a couple of posts that he found interesting and which piqued my interest as well.
The first was “9 Questions Visitors Are Asking Your Church”. He links to a piece on Ministry Matters that focuses on questions that visitors are not asking but churches still do. This goes well, I think, with the piece that I linked to a few weeks ago, “How To Make Sure that I Won’t Visit or Return to Your Church”.
Right now, the United Methodist Church is focused on the numbers in a church. We see our numbers declining and are looking at ways to reverse that change. As I am looking at these pieces, I am also preparing a message for this coming Sunday morning. And one of the points that I want to make is that we have to solve the problems that we face in an entirely new manner. (In the translation of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that I will use on Sunday, Paul tells the Ephesians to get out of the coffin. To me, Paul is saying think outside the box and that is what we must do
We know what drives visitors away. So why do we keep doing it?
The second piece that Gavin put up dealt with the laity in the church. In case you haven’t notice, there will no longer be lay speakers in the United Methodist Church after the beginning of 2013. At the last General Conference, lay speakers became lay servants. This is more than just a change in name but a change in emphasis as well; there will be more of an emphasis on servanthood and less on lay speaking. There will still be lay speaking but more emphasis will be placed on lay leadership and the role of the laity in the church.
This is something that Gavin is pointing out in his piece “Will the Laity Please Stand Up?” As he points out, any suggestion that it is the clergy that will drive the change in the church does not have an understanding of the role of the laity throughout the history of the church.
My father was an industrial engineer who specialized in time-study management issues. So I grew up with some knowledge of quality control issues (not many, I will admit but that was because I had my own thoughts about where I was headed in life). As I noted in “To Search For Excellence” this came to me in a sense of deja vu all over again as the TQM seminar I was attending was ending.
If the United Methodist Church is to change, it has to change from the bottom up, not the top down (don’t even ask me how any organization can change from the top down). Granted those that are at the top have to be actively engaged in what is taking place at the grassroots/ground level but if the people at that same level are not involved nothing will happen.
It is the laity that will make the change happen; it is the laity that have to be the first contact for visitors; it has to be the laity that reach out into the community and determine where the church can be of assistance (note that you have to find out what the problems are and provide solutions; not determine what one can do and see if anyone needs that help).
I want to thank Gavin for noting those two articles because I think that they illustrate some of the issues that we need to be addressing at this time.