Not many people responded and I commented I would put anyone's comments here. So, here goes for two comments by Anonymous - - -
1. My concern about people leaving... Obviously some people will leave for petty reasons or what are essentially non-issues (like moving), but we do need to have a feel for why someone is leaving. Are we being unfriendly to people who haven't been members for 10+ years or shooting down ideas or offers of help because it came from someone who is new (and wears jeans to church! gasp!).
My response ~ While I don't chase after people, I know why they leave via information from others. Most churches state they are friendly, but are not; I have heard from some visitors that we really are friendly (kudos to the folks who greet and meet newcomers)!
I would also hope that we are not shooting down ideas, in fact, I crave ideas from others, and hope they are willing to help implement the ministries they are passionate about.
Sometimes we need to say goodbye to someone (especially when they are here for the wrong reasons... i.e. personal glory), but we also need to periodically examine ourselves as a whole to see if we are part of the problem too.
My response ~ We really do need to examine ourselves, it's not an easy thing to do, more often than not it is painful, but if honest and willing to improve ourselves, that makes a difference to others. . . and yes, sometimes we need to say good-bye to some.
And I agree with the other comment about examining the by-laws. Are we being too narrow in our interpretations of scripture, or ignoring some parts altogether (because it challenges our comfort zone or our own position)?
My response ~ I'm in full agreement, but remember, and I know this one from experience, when you talk about by-laws (written and unwritten rules) they bring about more stress than anything you can imagine. By-laws and unstated rules often arise out of mistrust of one another, which IMHO is the reason for the use of Robert's Rules of Order. If we trusted, we would not need the detailed process, we could talk as brothers and sisters in Christ; agreeing and disagreeing, praying, discussing the needs, hopes, dreams, mission and vision for the church.
How do we want the congregation to give feedback? If I am unhappy about something, how do I let it be known? It may not always be obvious to members who they should talk to. It may be a more trivial aspect to someone else, but it may bother that person for a legitimate reason. If you complain to the wrong person, that won't usually get any results (and, sadly, can generate gossip) and they may not refer you to the proper person (because they don't share the concern, or because they don't know,or because they are annoyed, whatever).
My response ~ That's a good comment, and food for thought about the process. Yet, why do we need to complain . . . gripe, gripe, gripe. Why are we so passive and reactive, not proactive about what we believe God is calling us to do. If we were really involved in spiritual growth/maturity and serving Christ according to His call in our lives, we would not have time for complaining, we'd be too busy having the time of our lives . . . serving Him.
We should be willing to become part of the solution, not perpetuate the problem. My door is never closed to anyone who wishes to talk. Sadly many people prefer to talk around me, than to me. Not all of my ideas work, and I am willing to listen and learn, if people are willing to discuss. And often times the answer is right before us, but we're too busy yapping to someone who does not need to know what is going on. People should refer others with issues to the correct person, or not give them an ear. That is healthy, even though we don't usually believe this or practice it.
But the point is: is there a way to give concerns a voice and to prevent grumbling?
My response ~ It's simple, go to the source! More often than not we sit on our hands and say nothing that may be construed as confrontational or controversial during business meetings. I'm not looking for fireworks, but we need to speak up if we have a concern.
Change for the sake of change is wrong, but resistance to change because of our insecurities or discomfort is also wrong.
My response ~ Yup, on both accounts. I have really, really, really tried to be aware of that first precept. . . change for the sake of change is harmful. I'd rather stay status quo, which kills me, than to change just because.
Thanks to anonymous.