A lot has happened … nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but a lot. I mentioned in my last update that a reflection I had was that parish ministry is quite crammed and there needs to be a lot of discipline exerted if you wish to achieve the stuff you set out to do and not be deflected by a lot of good but other stuff. For me this is meeting with those outside the church regularly, and I have been able to develop a loose timetable around parish stuff that still allows that to happen. That does mean I am catching up on other stuff in the early hours of the morning, but that is sustainable for a few weeks.
I have to be careful how I share this next reflection, but I am not criticising anyone at all here, but I am noticing that St Stephens is like many other churches I have attended as far as distribution of workload goes. I reckon about 20% of the congregation do something like 80% of the work. I see the same people at events and various planning, PCC and other meetings. We have planned a creative Palm Sunday evening service … and again the people involved in the planning and running of that are the same people I have seen at other things.
It seems that getting a lot of people involved is a challenge because of busy lifestyles and other commitments; I have no right to criticise or challenge that. As I said, I am not making a judgement but merely reflecting on an observation. I do think it’s a model of church that we need to be careful of. There are many ‘post church’ people around who have been burnt out by the inherited church 20:80 model and so quietly left the building!. There are a few people like that that have passed through the gathering, stayed a while and then moved on to another church.
One of the values of the gathering is one of inclusivity and on our about us/vision page you may find the following line: We believe church is about participation and engagement of the majority, rather than being consumerist and led by a few specialists. We find the reality of that to be a real challenge, and in many ways we still aspire to that value, but I think we are moving in the right direction; even if quite slowly. One thing we are learning is that it is easier to produce something or take on a task when we know what is fully expected.
I’d be interested …. is this other peoples observation of parish life, I mean the 20:80 thing? Have others noticed that? What do you think the reasons are? Is it a matter of people being too busy, or is it more a case of needing to make it easier for people to become involved? Are there any answers or is this a simple case of ‘that’s just how it is’?