Wow, the Holiday's can be exhausting, especially in the life of the church. As I am going through this Holiday Season and dealing with all that there is to deal with, I remember a sermon I gave over the summer where I talked about how Church tends to have two big times out of the year that exhaust them for the rest of the year, those are Christmas and Easter.
As I am looking towards 2023, I am realizing how much I already have planned for the first two months (though, mostly for myself, but still a lot of church stuff). As I reflect on this, I am thinking about what I need to set as my goals and priorities this next year and in reflection, I am seeing two big things, Pastoral Care and Congregational Engagement, and in reality, these are tied together.
Historically, Disciples congregations did not have a set, full-time, staff minister. Historically our ministers were itinerant and the Church Elders were charged with Spiritual Care. The Congregation did all of its own mission work, fundraising and worship planning, the ministers just came and gave sermons and taught lessons every now and then. Our denomination is BIG on everyone being called to some form of ministry or another, and our 'official' clergy are individuals called to focus on ministry as a whole. With the every changing landscape of faith, religion and ministry, I believe it is important for congregations to be prepared to be mostly self sufficient. I cannot predict what will happen with ministry, but I am certain it will change. I have actually been looking at some ministry models where several churches share a minister, and with the tech we have today, each church could receive the sermon from the minister every Sunday, the minister just rotates what congregation they are present with each Sunday. I think this is an interesting design and has the potential to have a very positive impact on congregational leadership.
I have also noted about myself that I have not been keeping the best schedule for home visitation, or even calling people. I need to work on setting a schedule and keeping it so that all congregants know they are thought about and loved. I do deeply love all of my congregants, and I work at loving all people, I just need to work on some action items.
So, as I continue along with Advent and look forward to a short break after Christmas, I need to keep reminding myself that Christmas is just the beginning, there is much joy from the Gospel and much work to be done in church.