I keep reading articles about what pastors want congregations to know but are afraid to tell them, why pastors are burning out and why so many churches are failing. Though our church has been through its ups and downs, it is working really well right now. Of course, the main reason it’s going so well is that God is clearly at work here. But isn’t God at work in other churches where things aren’t going so well? There must be something we’re doing in partnership with our Founder to be where we are. Here are the Top 5 Reasons(in no particular order) why I think our church works :
- Nobody is under the illusion the pastor is perfect. Nobody thinks she’s even close to that…and they love her anyway (most of the time).
- Our church doesn’t want children in the church just to say we have children in the church. We like them and welcome them and give them leadership positions and like it when they get up in the middle of church and dance. You can read more about that HERE.
- We have no preferred music style. Most of our members did not grow up Presbyterian, but in all sorts of denominations with all kinds of music. So we’ve had to develop our “favorites” together from our hymnal, other hymnals, contemporary options, old time Gospel music and songs the kids learn at camp. Some of our members wish we had a little more organ or a choir or even a song leader, but music is never a deal breaker here–and folks are always willing to try something new.
- When we say “everyone is welcome,” we really mean it. We have no dress code. It’s impossible to show up for worship and be inappropriately dressed (as long as you are fully clothed) because people come to worship in everything from suits and ties to shorts and t-shirts. No matter what you are wearing, someone else will look like you. We don’t care whether you are single, married, divorced, gay, straight, in recovery, on probation or sporting full sleeve tats. Radical hospitality is kind of our thing because we think it was also Jesus’ thing.
- Members are financially invested, and no one can make or break the church with their contribution. Our congregation is small and not terribly wealthy, but our membership gives generously. Also, there is no one person or family whose gifts so outweigh everyone else’s that our budget would be crushed if we lost that contribution.
Those of you who are regulars at First Pres, do you think our church works? And if so, why?
–Rev. Anne Russ