22 January 2009

THE ADVENTURES OF GRAYING PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: Priorities and Turf

After the opening prayer by Pastor Rex, the meeting started with questions and comments from visitors. Suzanne Tomlinson spoke first.

“I am really concerned about our youth program,” she said. “My daughter is not being fed. Last week, they were in Hebrews, and the discussion was very general, not at all the in-depth study that she needs. Heaven knows that Pastor Rex tries on Sunday, no offense, but he is not setting a good example for the youth leaders. The past six sermons have been so general, not the good word for word exegetical analysis that I have heard from other pastors at other churches. My word, if we expect this church to be an outpost for God, we need to have seminary-quality sermons, and you need to make the youth leaders bring in qualified teachers for the youth Bible study. And while I am here, I think it is sad that the Pastor’s wife does not lead the Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday morning. What kind of example is she setting for the church? I know that she is a teacher at Greying Elementary, but I think she needs to get back in the home where a Pastor’s wife should be. I was saying to my maid only yesterday, when I was a girl, my mother was the president of the Ladies’ Bible Circle and the Pastor’s wife was always at their meetings. I think you need to do something about that, too. ”

Ellen Klass, the CE elder, thanked Suzanne for her input and promised to look into the quality of youth Bible study. Fred Jones, the Worship Ministry elder, commented that very few of the members of the congregation were at the same level of Bible knowledge as Mrs. Tomlinson, and that perhaps she should attend Wednesday night services where there were Bible study classes at various levels.

“Oh, I can’t do that,” Suzanne answered. “Wednesday night is our ‘family’ night. Perhaps you could reschedule the Wednesday night services to some other night?”

At that point, Pastor Rex noted that there were others waiting to speak. He assured Suzanne that the Session would consider her issues.

Will Jackson spoke next. “Well, I guess Suzanne and I are bookends. I was sitting with some visitors last Sunday, and after Pastor Rex’s sermon, they were real confused. They saw us all following his sermon and moving around in the Bible as he used different Scripture. These folks aren’t real knowledgeable about the Bible, so they couldn’t follow along. Rex, I think you ought to give the page number in the pew Bibles for each verse you use before you start talking about it, so folks can find it.”

“Or maybe we just need a better quality of visitor,” Suzanne muttered to Cherise Smith.

The Pastor and several elders opined on whether that was really workable. “Won’t that make the sermons longer,” asked Billy Jean Green? “What will we have to cut out in order to keep the service to an hour?”

“And that reminds me,” Fred Jones added. “I got six calls about the length of yesterday’s service. I still think we need a clock at the back of the sanctuary so you can stay on time, Rex. People really get upset when we go too long.”

“That’s why I am here,” said Cherise. “We were hosting an Eagles party yesterday, the miserable bums. Three lousy points in the first half? Go figure! Well, anyway, when I got home late, my husband was really upset. I got an ear full. I mean, that’s why he stayed home. ‘I knew Rex couldn’t keep it under an hour,’ he said. And I had defended you, Rex. Well, anyway, we have simply got to find a way to stay on schedule. The next thing you know, we’ll be back to an hour and fifteen minutes of worship and we all know what that does to attendance.”

“Well, if we’re going to get a clock this year, somebody will have to donate it or it will have to come out of somebody’s budget,” said Ed Carpenter. “There is no clock in the budget, and the Trustees are really upset about off-budget expenditures. If we don’t start running ourselves like a business, we are gonna be broke by July!”

A number of side discussions broke out, and it took the pastor several minutes to get things back on track.

“Well, we are already over our 30 minutes and we still have one visitor. Sandy, what can we do for you?”

Sandy Frobisher stood. “As you know, I work for Greying County Family Services. I also volunteer at Hidden Cove Women’s Shelter. Althea Robinson, Hidden Cove’s director, told me that a number of women have asked for a chance to have Bible study for them and their kids. Of course, the County can’t fund that, but I wondered if maybe our Mission Committee could help them get a few Bibles and maybe some of the Deacons could help me teach a twice-a-week Bible study.”

“Missions cannot! We re already over-committed,” said Paul Peters. “Besides, that sounds like it’s local. It ought to go to Evangelism or to Outreach. I mean, Mission supports our foreign missionaries. If you expect us to give our money to every local charity that’s looking for a handout, how will we be able to convert the heathens and bring the Good News to those who really need it?”

Sandy teared up. “But don’t these ladies and their kids need the same Good News?”

“Not on our dime, they don’t! What do you say, Outreach?”

“Oh, oh,” muttered Suzanne to Cherise, “watch out for who walks through our doors in a couple of weeks.”

Pastor Rex thanked all visitors, noting that it was now nearly 8 o’clock. “We’ve still got a lot of business to get done with, but be assured that we will get back to each of you.”

Well, what an exciting hour. Which committee will fund the clock? What excitement will the letters and e-mails bring? If Super Bowl Sunday services run long, will anyone care? And who really cares about a few homeless kids? [Hint: Can you boys and girls spell Matthew 19:14?]

4 comments:

Rev Kim said...

And what about the pastor's wife? When is she going to start doing her job and being a good pastor's wife and setting a good example? ;)

As an aside, before Dave & I were married a woman from his church called me and asked me if I would help out with the Girl Scouts. Funny, no one from my church called Dave and asked if he would help out with the Boy Scouts.

Presbyterian Gal said...

The adventures are turning into a tragedy!

Reformed Catholic said...

PG ... trouble is, they are too often true.

I see many of the congregation at Stodgy Presbyterian in the examples Mac is showing us here.

Kim,

FWIW ... this is more and more an issue with young ministers, as they come out of seminary and their wives or husbands have careers of their own. Lots of churches expect a 'two for one' package. Trouble is, with what they pay a minister, the spouse has to work in order to provide for the family.

Again, I see that at SPC. The pastor's wife was, at one time, active in the Sunday School and youth ministry. However, there were those in the church that did not like what she was doing (although she is a H.S. teacher, and drama instructor).

It came to a head one Christmas, when she did the Christmas pageant. Evidently, she did something that, again, was 'never done that way before'. The resulting backbiting by some, made her resolve to stay away from the church from then on.

Quotidian Grace said...

The adventures are starting to make my stomach hurt. Too close for comfort!

P.S. word verification is "rabings". Close to "ravings"....