I recently moved from one diocese to another where I visited a church that got me thinking about something, and it troubles me. Now in the diocese that I was in, I was seeing it less and less, but it still existed and I am not sure if it will ever go away for another 10 years at the earliest.
After service, one of the questions that I asked was what Ministries the congregation has. For me, this has become something that is important to me in figuring out what congregation I choose to join. Yeah I could join the biggest congregation, but to tell you the truth, I find that big congregations aren’t my thing, as they seem to want to dominate over the other congregations.
Now the answer to the question is one for some reason didn’t surprise me. I am sure that if I were to ask most smaller congregations I would get basically the same answer just put in different ways. The answer that I got was basically naming a couple if ministries, but also saying that the bigger ministries they are involved in were being run by bigger congregations. Now there is nothing hugely wrong with this, but I think that it takes away from the smaller congregations to be able to grow.
There has been talk of changes in the way that we in the Episcopal Church does things, and I think that one of the changes that has to be done is to push for smaller congregations to take the lead in the different ministries that are done in a diocese. If we want to truly have things come from the grassroots of the church, then we need to get the smaller congregations to take the lead in things.
Sure the big congregations will want to take control talking about all of the experience and expertize that they have, but if they aren’t willing to let others take the lead in things, then the smaller churches will continue to struggle as they won’t have things to attract people through its doors. If we don’t let the smaller ones take the lead then we will miss out on the chance of letting people who have great skills bring new ideas and ways that will benefit the church and Christianity as a whole.
I found it sad in ways watching what happened in the congregation that I was in when a change in clergy occurred. People came into the church with their own ideas on what should happen there and really didn’t care what the people who had been there for decades desired. While agendas were pushed by those coming in, those who had been there have watched and are leaving. One of the things that was noticed is that people from bigger congregations were being brought in for stuff that if asked of those who were there could of given them answers to in different things, but reinventing the wheel appeared to be more important.
Now I am sure that what has happened in this one congregation is something that has and is happening in other congregations. It makes me wonder how many people with wonderful ideas and expertise in things that will help the church grow who are not being given the chance because others have their own vision and not willing to be open to new ways and ideas. But this is also true in many ways of the big congregations when it comes to ministries that are done.
If the church is going to survive, then it will take dioceses to celebrate the ministries that are done in the smaller congregations and to make them not only shine, but they must be celebrated. This will also mean that the smaller congregations will have to step up and not rely on the larger ones to direct what is done. This will mean that smaller congregations should work together in building mutual ministries that lift both congregations and will hopefully give the bigger congregations new visions on what and how they do new ministries. I think of congregations like St. Cyprian’s in San Francisco and St. Cuthbert’s in Oakland, Ca which have some great ministries going on, but for the most part people within their diocese just don’t see what is going on with them.
Hopefully what ever congregation that I do end up in, they will be doing ministries that are nothing short of helping to help more of the world know of the greatness of the Holy Trinity.
So I would like for you leave comments in this blog about the ministries that you and your congregation have going on and how you feel that the smaller congregations can become stronger and bigger.