sacred cows and change

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by abcgrad94, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. abcgrad94

    abcgrad94
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    What do you do when your current church is failing spiritually, numerically, and physically, yet they refuse to CHANGE? I'm not talking about changing from traditional to contemporary, or changing names of the church or fundamental beliefs. I'm talking about silly, inmature, pettyness and making every little thing in the church a sacred cow.

    What do you do when your every effort (no matter how minor) is hindered because people simply refuse to do anything differently, even though what they are doing DOESN'T WORK.

    I can't even re-do a bulletin board at church because the person who did it before me "might get offended." It hasn't been changed for 4 years. I wasn't allowed to update the nursery (has been the same way for 30 plus years) because "it was good enough for OUR kids, why not other people's kids?"

    At what point do you kill the sacred cows? Do you just push your ideas, or give up?
     
  2. annsni

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    The nursery is easier - it needs to be updated to keep up with the current standards and safety regulations. Lead paint is most likely to be in there so you need to test it to check for that. Additionally, children with severe allergies might not be able to be in the nursery due to dust/mold issues.

    As for everything else? I'm not sure. Short of burning the old one down, it's just a matter of suggestion and then leaving it. Sorry!
     
  3. exscentric

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    Find another church if it is so terrible :thumbs:
     
  4. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
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    If it bugged me as much as it "seems" to bug you, this is exactly what I'd do!!:BangHead:

    Fact, if things were that stodgy, I'd probably be looking even if it didn't bug me.:smilewinkgrin:
     
  5. Tom Bryant

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    I'd agree about changing churches. But as a pastor of a 100 year old church, what I've talked about when pursuing change is the original intent of those who are being looked up to.

    I have said, "The people who founded this church (in your case, designed the nursery or whatever) did what they did to reach people with the Gospel. That's what we are trying to do now."

    And then sometimes, you just make the changes and endure the fire. But get your pastors permission first! He needs to know and sometimes can run interference for you.
     
  6. abcgrad94

    abcgrad94
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    I cannot tell your tone for this post, but I hope you are not trying to be a smark alek. This is an issue that has caused me much grief, and I would appreciate a serious, compassionate response.

    Tom, my dh is the pastor and I have full permission from him, but the church bucks everything we try to do.
     
  7. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    If it is something that doesn't affect eternity, such as bulletin boards and the condition of the nursery, then sometimes you just have to DO IT. Don't ask permission from the nay-sayers and don't feel like you have to tip-toe around someone who is stagnating.

    Let them stagnate.

    Let them gripe.

    Tell them what you are doing and why. Invite them to help you. Invite them to share ideas.

    If they don't come aboard, then move ahead without them.

    There are people who will complain, moan, and wail about WHATEVER goes on in church.

    Those who are actually doing all the work must simply smile, love them, bear them, and do God's work the way God leads under the direction of the pastor regardless of the stick-in-the-muds who wear permanent scowls and are afraid of doing anything differently.

    And for pity's sake, if everyone hasn't read the news on that bulletin board after 4 years - then it doesn't really matter.

    Grace and peace to you sister and forge ahead with gentility and detemination!!!


     
  8. Tom Bryant

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    Then my wife understands your situation completely.

    How long have you been at the church? Some churches think being modern is flannelgraph. (sigh)

    Fortunately, I have been here almost 12 years and outlived most of the hard core anti-change crowd. I'll be praying for you all.
     
  9. annsni

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    Ahhh - different story!! OK - then your DH is just going to have to decide to do what needs to be done and let the others complain if they want. Don't do things just to annoy but if you have a bulletin board that needs updating, then do it! So, people will worry about "offending the person who put it together" but they're offending you with not allowing you the ability to work in your own church.

    I thank God that the church we attend is SO not like this. Really for a lot of the things that in other churches cause all sorts of divisions, our senior pastor, his wife, his daughter and the senior associate pastor's wife just make the decisions (mostly decorating stuff). For other things, there's church staff that makes those decisions. Don't like the wallpaper?? Oh - sorry, but it wasn't your decision. It really has worked well!

    UGH - I don't envy your position. It's so hard when you get the old timers who don't want to move one day ahead of wherever they're stuck. Bleck!
     
  10. Trotter

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    Just do it. It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission, especially in this case. If it hurts someone's feelings then I seriously doubt that there was anything that wouldn't have hurt them anyway.

    Until peole realize that a) God doesn't sit still, b) the world doesn't sit still, and c) the church is getting left behind by both a) and b), they are just spinning their wheels and wasting both their's and God's time. I could be wrong, but with this attitude I seriously doubt there have been any conversions outside of what happens under your husband's preaching (if even there). The Holy Spirit has better things to do than to nurse hearts on sleeves and wipe pew warmers' butts.

    Sorry if I was overly blunt, but crap like that gets my hackles up quick.
     
  11. Jkdbuck76

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    Tell them the definition of insanity...which is doing the same thing over and over again and it always fails, but continuing to do it and expect a different result.
    ===============================================
    If you think it is nessessary, talk to that person and let them know they DID a great job, but since you are NOW doing it, you are going to change things.....but BE SURE YOU ARE CHANGING THEM TO MAKE THEM BETTER/ EASIER TO READ/MORE GODLY. I'm saying this: don't change for change's sake....improve things.
    ================================================
    Cars 30 years ago didn't have airbags, shoulder belts, crumple zones and gas tanks that didn't explode from rear impact! Yet today, we have all these things. If the nursery needs to be updated for safety reasons, it is time to do so.

    ================================================
    The moment they become "sacred" and you feel like having a burger!
    :tonofbricks:


    =====================================
    Only through MUCH MUCH prayer and Bible reading perhaps God will reveal to you what He wants you to do. Perhaps you and your husband need to speak with the Pastor, Deacons and Trustees. Or if you husband IS the Pastor, he can convey your ideas.

    You need to find out WHY they don't want to change? They could be:
    -afraid
    -just plain old hateful
    -almost had the church destroyed by someone else 10 years ago
    who wanted to change everything
    -out of money! and every time you say "We need to change/update XYZ" they heard "We need to spend a bunch of money we don't have."
    -have forgotten their first love.

    The bottom line: everything that is done in church should be done to glorify God and to get His gospel out to lost people before they die and go to hell not knowing Him. If the nursery is old, ratty, mold-filled with baby-puke stained shag carpet, NO young couple would leave their kids there and would most likely not be attending anymore services.

    If the bulletin board has no logical flow to it and the information is not accessible in 2 seconds, then it is no good. That's right! I said "no good!"

    Sister, keep praying!
     
    #11 Jkdbuck76, Sep 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2009
  12. exscentric

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    "I cannot tell your tone for this post, but I hope you are not trying to be a smark alek."

    If I were trying to be a smark alek I would have to get a dictionary and find out what "smark" means I spose. :thumbsup: Read that as my trying to be a smart aleck - now.


    "This is an issue that has caused me much grief, and I would appreciate a serious, compassionate response."

    It was. :thumbs:

    Did not know your other half was pastor, that would make it a tad more difficult.
     
  13. exscentric

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    Here we go, decided to look it up. If you trust wikipedia "Smark is abbreviated professional wrestling slang. The term is a portmanteau of "smart mark," two other terms in their own right. A "smart" is a person who is privy to the behind-the-scenes operations and understands that professional wrestling is choreographed, whereas a "mark" is one who believes that professional wrestling is real. A "smark", therefore, is a combination of the two, a wrestling fan who enjoys following the on-screen product and the off-screen, backstage affairs equally. Both of these terms are part of the overall atmosphere of kayfabe which is the term used to describe the choreographed goings on of the Professional Wrestling Industry.
    Smarks are a subset of the professional wrestling fanbase. They come from many different social backgrounds and are often referred to as "smart" fans. Smarks also make themselves heard on TV through signs and crowd chants. Depending on who is using the term, it can either have a positive or negative connotation.:thumbs:
    "
     
  14. dh1948

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    I think if I was in your position I would find another church. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I have no sympathy for the type church you have described. The church is on a downhill slide, and the situation is not going to change.
     
  15. annsni

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    Is bailing over pettiness the correct thing for a pastor to do or is it to shepherd his church through the difficulty? You're never going to find a perfect church and it's probably best to work through what you have unless they're going against Scripture.
     
  16. Revmitchell

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    While these particular issues themselves are petty the attitude that drives them are the real concern. And it always effects more than just small issues. But in the end prayer, fasting, and the word of God will effect change and nothing else. There is no doubt that these difficult people need to grow up but this may be and most likely is a period of growth for you and your husband as well. The time spent here may be hard and difficult but the end result will no doubt be glorious in your lives. Bare the burden, love the people, and give God the glory.
     
  17. TomVols

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    Not all crosses are worth dying on, but that's a two-edged sword or a double door. No one should want to make a big deal over a bulletin board. That said, I'm assuming you're not in a Southern Gospel church and you want to put up Toby Mac posters on the thing.

    There are always issues under issues. Control, money...whatever. In every church, there's the way things are done, and then there are the ways people do things. The two are often different. And remember that some cows are sacred for a reason. Why is the nursery a flashpoint? What's the deal with the bulletin board? I served a church that had a very lengthy job description for the janitor. Pages of duties. It was longer than the description of all other staffers (pastor, deacon, secretary, etc.) combined. Red flag? You bet. There was a reason behind it. There was conflict between the janitor (a member) and some people who wanted a new janitor. Because the person wasn't fired, they tried to smoke the person out with rules no one could live by. Or consider another church. the church used to cancel services on a certain Sunday evening. But that was stopped. No matter what was happening the next day (holiday, whatever) NO Sun evening service could be canceled. Why? Because one pastor years ago would cancel a service on a Sun evening and use that time to go lobby to get another church. My point? Every sticking point hasn't always been sticky. Find out when and why it got that way and you can get around it a lot easier.

    Any change requires education. You have to let people know why you're doing what you're doing. Then you get the leaders on board. The leaders in name and then the leaders in recognition. What do I mean? In one church I served, the Nursery had a director, but there was a woman who was the self appointed person. So I lead through both of them until I was established enough and established that the anointed one was not really anointed and had no authority. As for the nursery and the bulletin board, bring the leaders into the decision making process. Make the changes part of them. Get them to own part of it. Then move forward.

    If it is something simple and people are being petty, there are times you just make a change. But realize little things can come back and bite you. A good question to ask? What effect will this change have on this church five years from now? If it's minimal, maybe it's not worth fighting over. Will this change come back and bite me and/or the pastor in 3 years? If yes, then maybe now is not the time.

    My 19 month old needs her diaper changed but doesn't like it. Churches are like that. Things that need to be changed will be painful. But unlike my daughter, churches don't get over it. If they aren't ready for a change, then you do what you can and come back for the rest later. That's the secret to leadership. Sometimes walking a mile means taking one step...a small one. And that next step will come later.
     
    #17 TomVols, Sep 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2009
  18. BroChris

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    How long has your husband been the pastor there? How large is the church? Has the church grown at all since you've been there?

    I learned a few lessons in seminary over and over. One of them was to not change too much too fast. It's a sure recipe for being dismissed by the church. There are certainly some sacred cows which we must address right away: things to do with doctrine and especially salvation. But we must not place secondary matters such as the bulletin board above our relationships with the church. If he's been the pastor for awhile, they should trust him and see from his track record that he's a man committed to the building up of the church in love. If he's been there for awhile and they still don't trust him, then I'd suggest that he focus more on loving his church before even thinking about tackling the sacred cows.

    It's important throughout the process that your church knows that the pastor loves them. He's not trying to spite them in changing things. He's not merely placing his own preferences above theirs. He's striving to be a faithful pastor, and he's striving to reach the lost for Christ. Ultimately, he is the servant of the church, and if the church doesn't want to change the bulletin board, they ought to be able to keep the bulletin board the way it is. So I suggest that he lovingly teach over time on why the bulletin board needs to change (joke about it appropriately, weave it into sermons and business meetings, etc). Allow them to see why such a small thing (along with other small things) can have a huge impact over time. Once they realize it, they will want to change it, and it won't be an issue of contention. I cannot stress enough that this needs to be done in love. It's one thing to charge forward with a sword and demand that other follow, it's another thing entirely to lead them by the hand slowly and patiently.

    Sometimes, also, we just need to wait. It's usually the older people who hold most fiercely to the sacred cows. Not to be crass, but you will out live them. Ministry is not a sprint, but a marathon. It's what we do over time that yields the biggest harvest.
     
  19. abcgrad94

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    Our church has less than 30 people and we've been here over 4 years. For the past 15 years, the average stay for any one pastor has been 1-3 years. With each change in pastors, the church has assumed more control and refused to let go.

    This is more than just a bulletin board issue, it's a prevailing attitude in the church that the pastor is a puppet and the deacons and trustees are to "supervise" him and dictate every little thing. They expect us to do everything while they watch, yet then they complain it wasn't done right. We cannot win for losing. My dh preaches excellent messages, has a kind, compassionate heart and loves God with everything in him. The congregation sits like bumps on a log while we are pouring our heart and soul into this ministry. I do not understand what is wrong. It seems like we are beating our heads against a brick wall.:tonofbricks:
     
  20. Tom Bryant

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    Will be praying for you and your husband. There is almost nothing worse than feeling you're not accomplishing anything in your ministry. Maybe when you leave to go elsewhere, you can just nail a sign saying "ICHABOD" (only partially kidding)
     

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