“The Pastors Among Us”
Sweetly enough, our lay respondents felt that our pastors were one our strengths as a denomination. We have well rounded educations and work experiences prior to ministry. And people feel a strong a connection to the their leaders. They also said that “thoughtful” was a characteristic of our Rostered leaders. For myself, I think that our size of church makes it possible to build those personal ties that many in larger churches don’t get to experience.
Another strength if we wish to claim it is that there are so many issues squeezing people’s lives right now that the church offers a chance to respond in a way that is meaningful and relevant…if we wish too.
A couple weaknesses in no particular order
The pervasive attitude that our formation is finished at confirmation. Adult education in many settings either needs to be stronger or it needs to be lifted up as essential to practicing our faith
This goes along with the sense that we are too inwardly focused and that we have opportunities to join young people in their activism and justice work but there is little appetite for such endeavors in our current memberships
We are too cautious
We misunderstand the purpose of church and have adopted some narcissistic attitudes about it
We see conflict as threatening and need to reframe conflicts as openings to grow. We should normalize the presence of conflict so we can deal appropriately with it (I can’t tell you the number of stories that people tell me about how their kids don’t go to church because they witnessed church conflict.)
Too much emphasis on being nice
Christian nationalism is a threat to our identity because we have to spend so much time either reacting against it or educating non-Christians as to what we stand for
The cost of doing business as a non-profit in time and funds is a threat to our churches
“Climate Change and our Rural Existence”
And the biggest one, which I may have mentioned to you on in our last zoom session, is climate change. As a more rural region, our livelihoods depend upon healthy weather patterns and the preservation of ecosystems whether that is productive farms, in tact beaches for tourists, etc. And people’s spiritualties are very tied to the land and sea in this part of the world. The recent fires and droughts have had an impact across socio-economic levels. We view this as an existential threat to the church.
Pastor Amy Beveridge
Dean, Central Coast Conference