Thursday, June 03, 2010


I'm old-fashioned when it comes to numbers. I like to balance them either in my head, or on a piece of paper, putting aside all offers of a calculator. Like doing crossword puzzles, learning a language, and eating blueberries (so I've heard), simple math is one more way to keep one's mind sharper.

In my work as a parish priest, I'm not normally the one who worries most about numbers and retention of parishioners (except for this temporary period when I'm acting rector). In this past week while contacting newer members and visitors, I've learned that in the race to claim new members, it's easy to overlook the needs of established members. Sometimes, the reliable people who maintain the life and health of the church (and who appear to have it All Together) aren't doing well at all. But it takes sitting with them long enough to unearth the clues. It takes deeper listening that could have been used to connect electronically with more people or urging visitors to become members.

I'm happier connecting more deeply with a smaller number of people, which means I may never be the best person to grow a church in terms of increasing numbers. Give me more face-to-face communication and handwritten notes or letters. (Let me eat my blueberries and use a pencil to balance my checkbook.) It's important to pay attention to the people we already call our parish family members, and we don't always remember to do so. For me, it is not all about numbers.


Blogger Castanea_d said...

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers."

Too many parish search committees think they need someone who will be "seeker sensitive," or "attract young families" by whatever means (thinking that this is "evangelism," when it is not), when what they need is a "pastor and teacher." One cannot be a pastor without spending a LOT of time listening, deeply. As you do. And when you do this, you do not have time for some of the other stuff.

8:30 AM  

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