Words of Joy – Interim Minister’s Blog – October 2014

As of this writing, it has been one month since I began as your interim minister. Much has happened in the past month, and I am enjoying getting to know you and participating in some of the many activities that make Starr King Church such an active and busy congregation.

During the Start-Up workshop on August 16th, it was mentioned that this relatively small congregation has 28 different “committees” functioning! Later, the statement was clarified: there are 28 different groups, some of them committees and some interest groups, like the meditation group, elder group, book club, drum circle, etc. In the context in which this abundance was mentioned, there was some lamentation over the fact that these groups all need leadership, that current leaders may be spread a bit thin and that it is sometimes difficult to find leaders to take on additional projects or to bring new members into leadership positions. All of that is true, and these leadership challenges occur in most active congregations. Overextended leaders and leadership burnout should not be ignored, and training opportunities for new leaders would be a good idea—more about that later.

At the workshop, when the number of groups/committees was mentioned as a “problem” because of the leadership issue, District Executive Josh-Searle-White and I flashed each other a look, and we both said almost simultaneously that this “problem” can also be looked at as a sign of health!. The fact that so many groups and committees are operational indicates that people here value this congregation and are willing to work to see that its operations flow smoothly and that it offers its members many different opportunities to learn and grow, to act for social justice, to participate and to have fun together. Lots of activity, even with its attendant problems, is a sure sign of a living church. Here are some other such signs, from an old reading I have kept as a reminder that some church problems are, paradoxically, a sign of vitality. How many of them would you say apply to SKUUC?

Living churches always have a parking problem;
Dying churches have plenty of parking.

Living churches are constantly changing their methods;
Dying churches don’t have to.

Living churches have lots of noisy kids;
Dying churches are as quiet as a tomb.

Living churches’ expenses always exceed their income;
Dying churches take in more than they ever dream of spending.

Living churches are constantly improving and planning for the future;
Dying churches worship the past.

Living churches grow so fast you don’t know people’s names;
In dying churches you’ve known everyone’s name for years.

Living churches support community work heavily;
Dying churches keep it all at home.

Living churches dream great dreams of beloved community;
Dying churches relive nightmares.

Living churches have the fresh wind of love blowing;
Dying churches are stale with bickering.

Living churches don’t have “can’t” in their vocabulary;
Dying churches have nothing but.

By the way, don’t forget to sign up for one of the “Cottage Meetings” I am facilitating this Fall, where we can interact and become better acquainted, explore more of the congregation’s strengths and challenges, and create a vision of its future. Note that I have added two more dates. Call the office to sign up, or add your name to one of the clipboards on the table after Sunday services.

Cottage Meetings with the Interim Minister:
Friday, September 26, 10 AM to 12 PM
Saturday, September 27 10 AM to 12 PM
Tuesday, October 7 7 PM to 9 PM
Saturday October 11 10 AM to 12 PM
Sunday October 12 1:20 PM to 3:30 PM
Wednesday October 22 7 PM to 9 PM
Saturday October 25 1 PM to 3 PM

See you at church, Joy