Friday, October 14, 2005

Helpful hint from the trenches

I have discovered a way to get more of the congregation involved. This is a problem that touches many churches across the Globe. We want to empower our "lay" people but I find some challenges in that. First of all, I wonder to myself. ......."Lay person?" Do I really want to be one of those? It implies someone who doesn't stand up for their beliefs, someone who can be railroaded, a wimp, weakling, a walrus laying in a slug-yoga posezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

So that is the first problem that I see. Secondly I can say that here, at least it is often a puzzle figuring how to attract people to committee positions. I see reactions such as, "How many teeth must I pull? What do I have to do?" and "How long is my sentence? How long do I have to serve?" The church staff seeks to empower the "lay" people, we want them to see the bright side of being a working part of the big old Church machine. It's fun! or it can be,or it might be, well, maybe, you never know til you try, right? Through time, Churches have tried many methods of inviting lay people to come into the fold. Committee Titles that sound appealing and uplifting have been tried... Administrative Board ( This sounds like you, too can be in charge) and lay leadership ( lead others like yourself to lay- the low energy committee), Church and Family Life ( a picnic for sure) Trustees ( Trust me on this, okay?) and many many others. Fellowship Committee is similar to the Good ship Lollipop, perhaps. Hospitality is bound to be full of kind and hospitable folks... you get my thinking here, right?

If titles fail, sometimes food helps. "Oh, yeah, I'll sign up. That's the one that always serves brownies." or "That's the vegan task force" and " I've heard they offer comfort food and have retreats" Retreats is another story altogether for another day.....

Location location location.... " This committee meets on the first floor right next to the exit" This committee meets in the sanctuary of the Columbarium, where quiet and good ideas meet" etc..
Bottom line is that until today, there hasn't really been a successful way to get people to sign up.

Until today, I said. Until today.

This week has been incredibly popcorned with to dos. I started wearing my life jacket mid week and usually I don't have to do that til Thursday afternoons. So you can imagine how I was feeling, over done and a little swimmy. I got a call from a very chipper parishoner, Mary Lee. "Melanie! Hey! I just got my reminder card for the upcoming Worship Committee!!"
I was thrilled. This was just the news I needed. Some small indication that I had in deed been able to do my job in a timely fashion. She didn't say I got my reminder card for the meeting that happened last week, oh. no.It was a reminder in just the way a reminder should be. on time.
I replied with relieved excitement. " Yippee!! whew. I'm so glad."
Janie paused. "Um, Melanie. the thing is, that I'm on Board of Trustees."
oh. oh no. uh oh.

I sent out a new set of reminders to the right people, but later realized that this could be a good thing. I mean think about it. Trustees coming to Worship, Worship going to Staff Parish, Staff Parish attending Finance... We could all learn about each other and maybe join other people's groups. Hey. It COULD work. Well, it might. oh shut up.

You may wonder what I did about my mix up? Well, of course I did what any other self respecting Church chick would do. I UN invited Board of Trustees . Simple. You are cordially UN-invited to attend the Worship Committee meeting. What else could I do?
oh. Good grief. So much to learn. and my evaluation is coming up. oh. good grief.


HeyJules said...

Hi! I just wanted to say I am really, REALLY enjoying reading your blog! You have a wonderful sense of humor and it really shines here. Thanks for always being a bright spot in my day.

Churchrobin said...

Just yesterday, during the peak of the Friday madness getting the Sunday stuff done on deadline, a church member called the church administrator to complain that attendance at Church Council the evening before would have been higher had reminder cards gone out. The same church member who voted to eliminate a support staff person without visiting the church office. Thankfully the church administrator backed his staff. It was pointed out that meeting notices appear in the WEEKLY newsletter and anyone who attends church gets to take one home, therby saving the church money, it's just good stewardship. There's a useful's good stewardship...who can argue?

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