From the General Presbyter
The other day I was driving by the community center near my home and noticed some children playing under two basketball hoops. They could not have been more than four or five years old, and they looked tiny compared to the tall basketball hoops designed for adults. One or two of them were trying to sink the ball in the basket without success. But most of them discovered other ways to play with basketballs, including dribbling, dodging, kicking and running. It provided the cute factor but also illustrates a lesson for us church folks, going into a new season.
The height of the proverbial basketball hoop of church has gotten higher and many of us have gotten shorter; it is not your imagination! Though some churches are doing fine, most are feeling the strain of the post crisis COVID impact on congregational life. Less members are attending in person church. Less money is coming in to support ministries. There are not as many volunteers. There is a PASTOR SHORTAGE.
Let’s pause there for a minute. Many congregations are not receiving funds to support a full-time pastor and many pastors are not able to work part time and contribute to the support of their families. Pastors are not moving because they are not finding positions that can match their financial needs. Less people are interested in parish ministry and younger clergy are not staying in calls long term. The struggle is real.
What to do? First, realize it fully. It’s not going to be the same. Pastors, you cannot be all things to all people, nor can you do it all, period. You have to protect your health and emotional energy because the demands are greater.
“DO NOT BE ANXIOUS.... When Jesus spoke these words it was in the context of what we eat and wear etc. But the same might apply to the new policy requirements in the Book of Order. I want to reassure you that (a) For everything there is a season. We all know putting some of this in place will take time. Don’t be anxious about getting it done yesterday or tomorrow. (b) You are not alone. Groups and teams in the presbytery are already at work to provide support and resources for congregational implementation.”– Mary Gaut, Clerk’s Corner, 8.3.23
Leaders, some programs may have to stop or pause until a more robust volunteer core emerges. You are doing a great job serving faithfully. You can’t do it all either. And trust me, the Presbytery staff and leaders are running on all cylinders and in most cases, doing double duty, even as we love the work!
Second, like those little children, HAVE FUN! Can you reach the hoop right now? What can you do? Rejoice in each other as much as you can. Treat your online folks like family because they are. Can only do two big things? Do them well! Here’s one, stop striving and plan a congregation wide beach trip, or hike or meet in the park and rest! Or see the Barbie movie! (no it is not political!) Who knows what God can do if you breathe deep, slow down some, and serve the Lord with gladness. Stay tuned!