I have been a reader of Peter Steinke’s books on church management for a several years now. The most helpful thing he has taught me is to recognize the congregation I serve as an emotional system, just like a family. Because congregations are based on relationships, both with God and with one another, it’s important to understand how systems operate. People behave differently in groups than they do alone or in private. Understanding that truth goes a long way to understanding what goes on in a congregation or any other organization for that matter.
This is why there has been a notable change in the environments in the American Church since 2008. The uncertain nature of the American economy has created a lot of anxiety in society, some of which overflowed in all the protests on all sides since then. The Church here in America is struggling like never before because its local congregations are directly affected by this anxiety. Tensions rose in many local congregations since then and they were bound to do so. Christ has placed His Church right in the middle of the world and even though we are salt and light to that world, the world’s darkness often finds its way into the Church as well.
Add to that a winter like we had here in Wisconsin, dominated by a jet stream that was relentlessly pouring polar air on us in December and January and it’s not hard for this pastor to see the wear and tear the winter has had on the people in the pews and the people who were not able to get to the pews thanks to the weather.
The snow’s hard. The ice is hard. The relentless cold is hard. The attitudes are hard. The work of the ministry is hard when all this happens. I’m not complaining. I’m just being real…and keeping my light out from under the bushel. We’re all in this together.
That jet stream has finally evened out and we are looking forward to a return to more normal temps. My prayer is that we would thank God for that. The sun always rises. The temps do always return to normal. Weeping only remains for a time. Joy comes in the morning. Our God is not cold toward us. His heart is warm toward His human creation, loving us through thick and thin, serving us in all life’s circumstances so consistently with His gifts of forgiveness and life, paid for by the blood of His one and only Son.
So this Sunday, let me encourage any who reads this to join with other Christians in thanksgiving for a return of some warmth. I hope to see a sizeable crowd Sunday.
And then we’ll all go to Culvers together afterward. 😉
Blessings and prayers for warmth,