Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Focus

Victoria attended a diocesan convention over the weekend. Discussion both there and in our church for most of the last year has been centered around growth. How to grow the membership, how to grow as Christians.

My position for years has been consistent: focus on the flock. Take care of the people in the pews and the rest will take care of itself. However, that is not what gets people excited. They want to see the church in the news taking care of the poor and downtrodden in some pathetic third world place. Or, Peace and Justice committees want to support 'radical' issues like GLBT rights. Meanwhile, parents see their children being taught dogma that is inconsistent with their own beliefs (we had a Quaker as head of our Sunday school for years - not exactly Episcopalian).

If the focus of the church has to be on the people in the pews, those people have to be FAMILIES. I think it is great we have many members that have attended our church for decades and who contribute large sums of money each week - no kids, established lives, retired in many cases - to projects that display their generosity. This past year, we (and several other Episcopalian churches) contributed tens of thousands to a Habitat for Humanity project. Only problem I had specifically was the family that got the home wasn't Episcopalian!

Great! Four churches contribute $100k and hundreds of manhours for ONE family, not Episcopalian!

How many families in those 4 churches are hurting financially? 10, 20? How about one month's rent/mortgage to help? How many families in those 4 churches don't have medical insurance and therefore don't get all the medical care they should? How many need prescriptions they can't afford? How many could use 24 hours away from their kids?

Camp Webb is the diocesan camp for kids. CJ has attended for a couple years and looks forward to it with great anticipation. The camp is slowly dying because...ta da....fewer kids are attending. Why are fewer kids attending? Because there are fewer kids in the pews! How about donating money to the camp so it is less expensive (it is pretty cheap now for 1 kid, but if you have a couple, the cost is going to be nearly $500 for the 6 days and 5 nights most camp weeks are.

Like the stereotypical cop or doctor that spends long hours at the job taking care of people but ignoring their own family, the Church is seeking to help people outside the pews and abandoning their own.

The mega-churches grow because their first, second and third goal is to take care of the people in the pews. Outreach starts at home. Until old-line churches learn this important lesson, the pews will continue to empty and the coffers....well, it is only a matter of time.


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