Thursday, November 1, 2012

Waiting on the third strike

Lately in the church, we've started to make some (more) changes to worship.  The worship committee met in September and wanted to mix some things up.  So, we did.  And I caught a good bit of flack for it.  Some folks are begging for the church to grow, and others don't see that change is a necessary part of that, or maybe simply don't want things to change.  

It has been wearing on me, to say the least.  In a discussion about it a few weeks ago, someone asked how many people are really frustrated with the changes.  I thought probably only 2-3%. Which is sort of ironic since the 2-3% make 90% of the complaints.  

Sometimes it helps to have perspective.  

With that, we created a chart of sorts that helped us see that there are probably a couple folks on either end of the spectrum, those that are over the moon with the changes, those on the other end of the spectrum that totally hate what is happening, and then various groups in the middle.  For the folks totally opposed to what is happening, we indicated that they have 2 strikes against us. And for many of them, they are waiting for the third strike.  The folks in the next group over have 1 strike against us.  If we don't attend to the strike (read: resentment, hurt, neglect, offense) then they can easily move into the 2 strike range.  But if we do mend what is broken, we can erase the current strike against us (read: the church) and hopefully grow together toward the future God has for us.  

Those opposed to the changes in worship aren't the only 2 strike folks, we have others who have been hurt or forgotten by the church. They too have 2 strikes against us.  Some folks are hoping for a home run, and others are convinced we won't get it right and are waiting for the third strike to happen. 

As a pastor, it's an awkward and taxing place to be in ministry.   We want people to be a part of the community and to feel welcome and comfortable.  Most of us don't want anyone to leave the church on bad terms.  That being said, erasing strikes is time and energy intensive work.  And you aren't guaranteed it will be effective.  

The other day, I took some time to talk to some 2 strike people from the church.  In many ways, I went into the conversation thinking it was a lost cause.  But from what was said, I think some of these folks needed to be wanted, remembered, and cared for.  It wasn't so much about the "strikes" being held, as it was the lack of attention to the hurts that were inflicted.  I don't know how these folks will respond in the long run, but I do know the conversations seemed more than worthwhile.