Ask the Matriarch: A Church Visitor at a Small Church

I’m a member of the RevGalBlogPals, an online community that supports clergywoman. Because I’ve been in ministry for more than a decade (more than two decades, shhh) I bear the esteemed title of “matriarch.” Which I wear with pride! Today’s feature was an advice column that asked an interesting question about a church visitor. Any member or leader of a small church knows how exciting visitors can be! Click over to read the question and three answers. The answers vary tremendously. What would your response be? This one is tagged Leading the Small Church.

How to Wear History

choices for churches

Some churches wear their history like a feathered cape — with the past thrown lightly over the shoulders of the present. The past is color, context, and dramatic flair.

Some churches wear their history like a shroud — with the past draped heavily over the face of the present. The past is silencing, secretive, and corpse-like.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories with many actors, who have many foibles.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories where one person is to blame.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories that happen all over the place — the sanctuary, but also the retreat setting, the party at so and so’s house, the time we went to Capitol Hill, the homeless shelter, stories told with gusto.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories that happen in the room where Session meets, or in the parking lot afterward, stories told in whispers.

The cape-wearing churches sometimes organize events by email, or Facebook, and plans can change at the last moment.

The shroud-wearing churches stick to their administrative manual, which is thick. 

The cape-wearing churches are a pain to keep clean, what with the play-doh and streamers.

The shroud-wearing churches are clean, if you don’t mind the slight smell of stagnation.

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Church un-Cluttered

Two Church Closets: Before & After

Churches have a unique tendency to become cluttered, as I have blogged about before. But never underestimate the power of energetic volunteers!

The goals: 1) make items accessible;

2) create dedicated space for pulpit robe and worship materials.

BEFORE large closet

BEFORE small closet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFTER large closet

AFTER small closet

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Would Jesus Have Marched?

Salt & Light, Matthew 5:13-20

I have a lectionary essay on the gospel text for February 5, over at Journey with Jesus.

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Church Clutter

New Year, Clean Slate!

Clutter-free spaces communicate hospitality. The hotel industry understands this. Unfortunately, many churches don’t.

I’m on my way to a “Clean Up Day” at my church. I’m still quite new there — since Labor Day — and the church basement is in reasonably good shape. Still, it’s always good to sift through the flotsam and jetsam. Cleaning up is a good way to learn the church’s history, both formal and informal. I’ll take some “before” pictures of closets, although I expect it will be weeks before I have “after” pictures.

Meanwhile, I’ll repost an article I wrote a few years ago — to draw the connection between clutter and hospitality in church settings, and why I prioritize uncluttering. (more…)

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“Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.” ~ Thomas Merton

What You Say to a Hurting Person Matters

I wrote this article for the Tyndale Ministry blog. It’s geared for clergy leaders, who are charged with providing pastoral care. But the truth is that we all come across people who are hurting terribly, and often hurting in secret. How can we respond? What you say to a hurting person matters.

Women Pastors Unite!

what to do when people make snide & hurtful comments

Over at RevGalBlogPals, I and a number of other matriarchs respond to a classic question — what to do when parishioners make snide comments in the presence of others?

Unfortunately, it is a very common scenario for women in ministry. And what a shame! I know for a fact that clergywomen are just doing their best at a very hard job which is uniquely undervalued.

Click to read what I and the other matriarchs suggest. What would YOU suggest?

If you’ve ever been the person making the snide comment, I would love to hear about that experience too! What were you thinking?

Please pass along this resource to any women pastors you know. She probably would benefit from belonging to RevGals!

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