Friday 25 September 2020

Keeping Everyone Happy at Church

Having a bit of a reflect on the following tweet, in which Dan Brown (not that Dan Brown) reflects on what someone said to him... "your job as vicar is to make sure everyone's happy".

And of course, that's what the job of a church leader is supposed to be. Just consider what this requires. Ensuring the happiness of.... 
  • People who want to be "fed" in the main service.
  • People who like a nice snappy sermon so they can get out quick.
  • People who like modern music.
  • People who like the old stuff.
  • People who only ever want to sing things they already know.
  • People who like modern English.
  • People who like traditional English.
  • People who like Latin.
  • People who like Syriac.
  • People who expect charismatic gifts to be practised in church.
  • People who think anyone who practises charismatic gifts should be exorcised.
  • People who point out that exorcism is also a charismatic gift.
  • People who want the church to be inclusive.
  • People who want the church to be exclusive.
  • People who think the church would be better if everyone was like them.
  • People who believe the Bible is literally true.
  • People who believe the Bible is all metaphor.
  • People who've never read the Bible.
  • People who believe the Bible is literally true, but never read it.
  • People who want to install new toilets in the church.
  • People who think the church building should be frozen in time in 1872, when the Victorian restoration knocked it down and rebuilt it.
  • People who demand the pastor gives strong leadership that agrees with them.
  • People who want to be told what to believe.
  • People who think they know better than the pastor.
  • People that actually do know better than the pastor.
  • People who want lively church with all-age-friendly worship.
  • People who think children should be seen and not heard.
  • People who want church to stay on Zoom forever.
  • People who don't believe there is a virus and want to receive communion in both kinds, with a large band, and congregational singing. 
  • People who think the pastor should leave everyone in peace.
  • People who think the pastor should visit every house in the neighbourhood. Every month.
  • People who don't want to cause a fuss, but then do anyway.
And any of the above could include the pastor themself.

What's a conscientious pastor to do? Obviously one way of keeping everyone happy is to create endless services in an attempt to meet all requirements, and charge around pastoral visiting the world. Though that might involve an exhausted, dispirited pastor.

One way is to decide that maybe everyone can just be a little bit happy and a little bit unhappy. Basically, everyone has to put up with a bit, so that everyone gets what they want.

One way is to remember that Jesus came to bring, not peace but a sword. Hand out some weapons and leave the church committee to get on with it.

And another? Identify all the people that agree with you. And chuck all the rest out. You can't keep everyone happy. But at least you'll only have to talk to the ones you can. 

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  1. Yes! Syriac! Let's get the Church back to its roots! None of this colonialist Latin and Greek!

  2. I wonder if Dan Brown really believes what he said, or, did he just say that to provoke you? After all, you are well known to be easily provoked which you deal with using the blunt end of a Cricket Bat. So, perhaps he is advocating that every Pastor should keep a Cricket Bat or Baseball bat handy for those who try to tell them what they should do, think or be. I will increase the eligibility for the Church Times Cricket Tournament as well.


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