Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three legitimate paths

Our church St George's Battery Point cares for the parish of Southern Midlands which is made up of a number congregations meeting in church buildings scattered in about four locations across the southern midlands and southeastern part of the central plateau.   Basically we provide some theological training, weekly pastoral care and run services at each of the centers once a month. We've done this for a year and now need to decide what the next year should hold for them and us.  I'm not the one with the final say but I've been a part of the process and it's made me think that there are three legitimate paths for a ministry's future.  
  1. Grow: We could make the decision to close/hold other ministries in order to find resources to grow the congregations of the Southern Midlands. For example we could decide to concentrate on one centre/location building the others from that base. 
  2. Close: We decide to graciously and carefully begin the process of closing the parish, transferring the congregations to neighboring denominations (e.g. Presbyterians) or parishes (e.g. Edge Church, Claremont).  
  3. Hold: We recognize that the congregations/locations need to be kept open and while we aren't equipped to grow the parish and it shouldn't be closed, someone else may be around the corner ready to something we hadn't thought of. 
There is the strange misconception that growth is equated with success. Kingdom growth has a longer/larger more complex trajectory then our progress-worshipping-western-culture realizes.  What happens is that the close and hold options are often concealed in other contexts because we are either shamed into thinking grow is the only option or convinced progress is the true definition of success.  Each of these three paths for a ministry, done in a way that honors God, can be done for God's glory.  It could be time for a ministry to close or it could be someone else has a better chance of growing it then you.