Hi Tom & Dave,
Thank you for the thorough comments on TGBTRD. I appreciate your time, your words, and your insight.
TB: I wonder if the generalizations that you are making here are due to the fact that [CGCC's] main failing as a church has been how we are communicating our successes. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye, and the leadership (including myself) have renewed our efforts to get the word out more broadly that there are amazing things happening.
My personal policy once I post a blog entry is to leave it exactly as I posted it, even when I later see things that ought to be changed... this keeps me accountable. I want to acknowledge right now that in my entry entitled Calling for The Symbiotic Life , I was making some very broad generalizations.
Cedar Grove Community Church continues to have active ministries. In particular, the annual mission trips to Mexico are impactful and inspiring, and when a family in the church experiences the loss of a loved one, I know how quickly the forces mobilize to nurture the family, to provide all kinds of support, to fascilitate details, etc.
When I said, "We are sluggish, we are despondent, and we are needy," I was speaking of a collective group, a majority which I see because I'm a part of it. People who have stopped being more involved than putting in face time on Sunday mornings... people who haven't been tapped to make a difference in a while.
Or maybe I only hope I'm a part of a group like the one I describe. If it turns out I'm in the minority in wondering about the level of service at CGCC, on sides both active and passive, it makes me the reject, me the outcast, me the problem. Now, I don't believe that's the case, but it could be. Occasionally, I've been known to be wrong. (Just ask my parents, my best friends, my husband.)
Perhaps you're right; perhaps CGCC's tendency towards humility is exactly what is keeping me (and others) from seeing burgeoning success. Since humility is not something that must be "corrected," I don't know what the answer is to that particular problem. What I can say is, people will see the fruits of service when they themselves have been served. Or, and what I'd prefer, people will see the fruits of service when they themselves have taken part in the serving.
Both of you made a point to highlight my inflective on "the church."
Dave quickly reminded me, By this, I mean (of course) that the church is *us*. Learning, support, and resources are first what we generate, and second what we receive.
Tom said, Your italicized phrase 'by the church' begs the question answered by the previous commenter: who is the church? Answer: we all are.
And you'll get no argument from me on this point. I'm only disappointed that this was unclear during my entry. I want each person in our congregation to feel compelled to step up to serve, to be active in his or her pursuit to fulfill the needs to someone else in the church body... If that were to happen, all who took the opportunity to serve would also end up being served by someone else. That's the harmony I desire.
My intention here was not and is not to malign my church. As you both pointed out, "the church" is me, is you, is my group of friends, is my family, is so many people I admire... I would never feel it's my place to insult them. Criticism, when handled with care, can be the first step to betterment. That's my hope. The good news is that I heartily accept being the first to test my own theories. I've got my ideas about reaching out to (and pulling in) women in the church. Friends of mine who share my viewpoint are excited to help, as well.
Who knows? This whole blog entry could boil down to my missing the Drama Ministry. :-) And if I have the pleasure of assisting with the youth group this summer, maybe I'll be pacified, certain that our church is back in its proper, healthy vein. But I hope I am only ever content with true success.
If anyone ever builds RateMyChurch.com, rest assured that I want CGCC to be given top marks. And really, my commentary on the overall neediness and despondency of people is not exclusive to CGCC... not by a long shot. It's my current (albeit pessimistic) feeling about people in general. Now, I know a lot of selfless, passionate, capable people who serve the world constantly. I like to believe that, on my best days, I am one of those people.
Unfortunately, I am also selfish, lazy, disorganized... like many others. And that's no way to exist.
Dave, you mentioned, A path towards support and resources is often simply side-stepping the idea that you need others' stuff or input when beginning to create meaning and provide for the immediate needs around you... At least a small percentage of the church population should be spiritual entrepreneurs who don't ask permission for permission's sake.
Granting permission for "spiritual entrepreneurs" is the prerogative of the church, and they exercise that prerogative often. I recently discovered that the church has its own dress code for bathing suits allowed on trips associated with the church. I may have to ask permission to take my bikini on a Girls Only retreat. This is only a petty matter, but its understandable. Imagine how much more important it is for the church to maintain sovereignty over decisions of ministry.
Those of us who have the capacity to care for those beyond our immediate reach... should. By participating in this outreach, we establish "the church," and when it's our turn to need something, to really, honest-to-God need something, "the church" we've built will respond from the heart. It is our individual responsibility to take the initiative to enact this truth... but it is the responsibility of our church leadership to establish needs, to determine capabilities, to provide opportunities, to acknowledge challenges, to fascilitate all.
Once again, thank you both for taking the time to respond.