My church is coming to a climax moment. We are growing (both spiritually and numerically) and we are pushing away from the pastor-does-it-all model into something more collaborative. People have been awesome about assuming new responsibilities and stepping out of their comfort zone and trying new things. It's been inspiring really.
And as we grow, I have to delegate more (a task I am still learning to do and often fail at...making myself insanely overwhelmed...) and to start, it's the simple things that are easiest to hand out (birthday cards, typing up documents, tracking missioner money, making phone calls to recruit leaders, and even visitation). All of which was going along fine until this week (when I delegated out more things than normal...???) and I started to encounter the push back.
I didn't visit a surgery patient (not b/c I didn't want to, but because it's been busy! see: "insanely overwhelmed" comment from before) and I had someone else ask someone to fill out a grant proposal and someone else ask someone to lead a new class. And I heard about it. One person was hurt and upset. Another simply commented, "I used to get a hand on my shoulder and a question, now someone else calls and asks."
I know that with most conversations there is "text" and "subtext". There is what is being said (i.e., text) and what is really being said (i.e., subtext). So, I know (or at least believe) that the subtext on the frustrated patient is that she wants a visit and needs to feel remembered and important and know we are praying for her in the midst of the pain. And the subtext on the other is that he liked the personal nature with which I have been leading. Both of those are good things. I don't mean to deny that. I'm not even completely sure I want to lean away from that.
But the flip side is, I can't pastor that way to any more people than we already have. So something has to give. Either, we decide to grow, and give up some of the "personal touches" (or at least the ones that come directly from the pastor) or we decide to forsake growth (and a lot else at the same time) and keep the pastor-does-it-all model.
As a church, we haven't quite reached the moment quite yet. But we are on our way and we will have to choose (or I will end up in the hospital or the psych ward...). It's tough to give up some of the comfortability, but there is also a lot more to be gained, because when I cease to be the trusted one that has to be the one to pray or visit or call, then that means there is MUCH more space for other people to fill that role...and the church will grow.