Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do You Really Want To?

Yesterday I started reading a book by William McConnell entitled: Renew Your Congregation (Healing the Sick, Raising the Dead). In the Introduction, McConnell says, "One of the most difficult church myths to deal with is the myth that churches want to grow." His premise is, and I think it is correct, that if churches really wanted to grow they would be making the necessary changes to grow. Most congregations are all talk and little action. The church growth that is wanted is limited and born from the selfish desire to have more money to pay the bills and to produce enough programming for the church to meet the perceived needs of those already attending.

This truth has bearing on intentional interim ministry. Congregations have to reach a point of desperation before they will acknowledge their need for intentional interim ministry and be willing to make the necessary changes that the process reveals are needed. In our denomination the District Superintendent has great influence in the connection of local congregations with potential pastors. It can almost become an "arranged marriage" on occasion. Church - here is your pastor. Pastor - here is your church. I have told our district superintendents that until a congregation realizes their need for intentional interim ministry we will see little fruit for our efforts. BTW - I still haven't had any contacts from any local churches about being their intentional interim pastor. But, with God's help, I am totally at peace and am trusting that He will open the right door at the right time.

The second chapter of the book is entitled: Start from Where You Are. McConnell says, "To get where you want to go, you must first know where you are." This is what the first task on intentional interim ministry, Coming to Terms with History, is all about. Along with the myth of wanting to grow, another problem in most churches is self deception. Those inside the congregation think they are one thing and everyone outside the congregation knows that are something entirely different. It takes courage to hold the mirror up so that you can see yourself for who you really are. It is my duty as an intentional interim to help congregations to muster the courage to hold the mirror up so that they can see who they really are. But it is also my delight to see the freedom that this act gives to congregations. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and truth shall set you free."

This book promises to be a good read. I will keep you updated as I proceed through it.

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