From the PresbyterianBlues blog. Very insightful, based on years of experience:
An advantage of being in the same church for a long time is that you have an opportunity to see things play out. You can observe parenting and then watch the “parented” children grow up. You can see folks go from young parents to empty nesters. You can see all sorts of people just passing through. In short, you’re around long enough for time to tell its story. And if it told proverbs about Presbyterian church life, they might sound like this.
- One who speaketh in his first Sunday School class will evaporate like the morning dew. It’s uncanny – visitors who enter by sharing their brilliance in their first Sunday School class won’t be around for long. And, really, you don’t want them around for very long.
- Better an early grave than the sneer of an alpha church lady. Thinking of confronting her? Just find something else to do.
- Like an idol under a hammer is family legalism under actual parenting. No kind of schooling or parental style is guaranteed to produce the child of your imagination. A man is arrogant indeed if he is not humbled by parenting. A man is a moralist indeed if he rigidly insists upon all his preconceived family dogmas.
- The fatted calf buys no loyalty. You can go all out for a visitor or new member, but your sacrifice will be forgotten if his whim leads him elsewhere.
- Sin happens. Your church is not immune from the sin virus. There will be ugly things to deal with.
- Your gut speaketh truly but it matters not. Yeah, you might have good hunches about people and situations but that doesn’t make you lord of them; usually all you can do is watch things play out. At least you have a front row seat.
- Does a kangaroo stop hopping? If your new members have been church hoppers, your church is a temporary landing spot. Use pencil when you write their names on the roll.
- The heart knoweth not why it leaves a church. Or at least it isn’t telling. Either they don’t really know or they don’t feel like telling, because departing members say some pretty weak things.
- More welcome is a leper than a former elder. Members who depart (when circumstances don’t demand it) draw devil horns on their former pastor and session. Don’t say “see you later,” just say “goodbye.”
- Better a morsel of faithfulness than a feast of victories. Because you don’t really know what a victory is. Not yet.