I’ve written before about some of the differences between revitalizing a church and planting a church. One of those differences has a lot to do with the fact that in revitalizing a church, you’re working with people who have been there a while.
When people have been at a church for 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years, they remember. And if the church has seen better days in the past, that means there are people who remember hurts.
Churches aren’t always safe places where everyone is always gracious and forgiving. Sometimes they’re unhealthy places where people assume the worst and attack one another. If you stay in a church for even a few years, you’ll start to notice warts, and even have someone say something to you that was presumptuous, hurtful, or a plain lie.
Now imagine 40 years of that. Yeah, people are hurt.
I’ve thrown around a few ideas for different programming and whatnot and had an idea or two be the thing that reminded someone of the hurts they’ve experienced. What happened at that time? All the frustration started flooding back.
It would be easy to take that frustration as an attack on me or my idea. It wasn’t. It probably didn’t have anything to do with my idea. It probably doesn’t even have anything to do with me. It’s just a hurt person remembering.
A lot of church members that have been around for a long time don’t need a ton of instruction from the new pastor. They know the Bible–I’m sure some of my members could teach me a LOT of things! What a lot of members need is someone to walk them through their hurts.
Programs come and programs go. It’s the people you’re there to pastor.