Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five Months

As of Saturday I will have been at New Church (I really must come up with a blog name for it) five months. In many ways, things are going very, very well. By which I mean, They like me! They really like me! So, ok, that's out of the way.

But I am experiencing a bit of what the former moderator of the session described as a kind of malaise, or low level depression... not in myself, but in the session. I don't think there's a lot of trust inherent in that body. They seem to feel that they've been burned (this is all on intuition, mind you, and not at all on evidence). I know that there were certain tensions with the former pastor (and that's pretty normal). But I know that in very specific ways my behavior in the church is quite different, in ways that should be helpful, I think.

I went into a recent meeting armed with the knowledge that at least one member of the session doesn't like the leadership development I do with them (a passage of scripture, some questions for reflection, a passage from our constitution). I know this because I enlisted a bunch of members of the congregation to get feedback for me on "How's it going." Then, in the course of the leadership development that night (organized around the theme, if you were coming into this community today to found a church, what particular needs in the community would you be seeking to respond to?), I learned something startling about one session member. This individual is not sure church is worth it, is not sure she/he would step into a church again except for the need of the spouse to be involved.

I left somewhat stumped. what do I do with this information, exactly? Do I give it time, assuming it is part of a normal cycle of faith growing-pains? (The person said he/she has experienced a kind of cycle of engagement and distance in the past.) And if this is the session... granted, just one person out of nine. But still...

That said, this person is an articulate, highly intelligent, very funny (in an entirely underplayed way) addition to any church gathering, leadership or not. This may be simply be fatigue and burnout. Time and trust may win the day.

Add to all this: 18 people at the Lenten series last night. Down from 35 the first week. Ouch.

So I guess I got me the "I-got-a-call-but-turns-out-I-have-to-work-with-real-human-beings" blues.


Anonymous said...

shoooot. cry me a river, magdalene. 18. down from 35. indeed. (signed, the sermon-borrower)

Magdalene6127 said...

I hear you, S-B. Noted.

(You made me smile).

Iris said...

The sermon borrower made me laugh...

But I still think you deserve a hug. (((Mags)))

MoCat said...

"So I guess I got me the "I-got-a-call-but-turns-out-I-have-to-work-with-real-human-beings" blues."

I love it!
Can I get that printed on a t-shirt? ;-)

Magdalene6127 said...

MoCat, let's get a cafe-press account going!

Thanks all. Feeling better today.

LittleMary said...

bummer man. they are real people? son of a gun.

revhipchick said...

"I-got-a-call-but-turns-out-I-have-to-work-with-real-human-beings" blues.

LOVE IT! your phrase, not that you have this malaise.


ps...if you do get the cafepress going with that phrase please let me know! i think i'd like to have a coffee mug!

Juniper said...

hey, right there with you.

re the person who is not sure why they're in church - dont you think it's kind of cool they show up, even without feeling it much?

Barbara B. said...

I do like the Sally Field reference! :)

bronislava said...

huh, that's really interesting! i just realised that i would expect people at church (even in leadership) to be on the verge of leaving the church. maybe it's because of how 'protestant' the people i hang out with here (in the uniting church of australia) are. we actually talked about sacraments in our uni group yesterday for the first time that i can remember in 5 years going there. and people seemed shocked that you might expect any kind of commitment from someone in order to be baptised etc.

so it's pretty normal, i think, amongst these people to feel that church = evil institution that we just happen to be in but we might be better off without, and being christian = following christ (full stop, end of discussion, although you might need some sort of "community" to keep you accountable in some sense)

i can't remember if i introduced myself when i started reading your blog, but i'm an anglican living in sydney and thus i find myself more linked with the uniting church most of the time, because i'm not a crazy fundamentalist, etc. i've been enjoying your musings! thank you :)