One of the most painful things in my life is being a warden of my local church. Wardens are the guys who look after the property and money side of things. Yes I am aware of how pathetic it sounds to say it is one of the most painful things in my life – but regular readers will understand that I have got used to being pathetic.
St Pewsitters has grown to a size where people see us as a big church big enough to be attractive, offering youth groups for all age groups for example. I don’t think we have earned the nickname I once heard used of a large church on the northside “the deathstar”, but sometimes I wonder.
But we big enough to be comfortable and that is the problem. There is some evidence that we have plateaued – or at least slowed our growth: church services that wax and wane in numbers and giving has flat-lined.
This stuff causes real pain because in saying let’s get back into growth mode (and I assume that people who have read this far into Southern Cross – well past the archbishop’s page – are generally in favour of growing the church), there is an element of criticism.
But then again I have been there all along participating in the decisions, contributing my fair share to the blunders if any.
There is pain from fear of the unknown. We know how to sit at this size. It feels good. Will this jumbo jet fly? Back when it was a commuter plane we coaxed it into the air. Back when I knew everyone at church each week. Back when there were only a few of us to crash land. Now we need to get this monster to take off again.
There’s the pain of building a consensus in favour of change. All that cajoling, organising, consulting, listening stuff. By now you may have guessed this pewsitter rather likes hiding in a corner and pontificating.
There’s the pain of risking disagreement. Not everyone will come on board. Some people won’t like what is decided. (That may be me!) I like to be liked, and some people may blame me for change.
There’s the pain of risking failure. It used to be said nobody ever got sacked for choosing IBM. Steady as she goes is probably the church equivalent. So we are taking a risk we will fall flat on our faces. That could hurt. The drought has made the ground hard.
There is the pain of getting it wrong. We will get things wrong. Maybe we will put the wrong number of chairs in the church. “Why did they build that ridiculous car park somebody will say in ten years time. Or “why did they start that ridiculous ministry that fell flat”. Yep, we will give future parishioners of St Pewsitters plenty to laugh at.
Well if in future years there are those who smile at Jesus, it is more than a fair trade off I guess.
As for the rectors wisdom in choosing me as a warden? This column has never thought that ordination makes our clergy infallible.