Monday, November 30, 2009

Sustainable Pastoring, Sustainable Church?

One of the blogs I follow is by Todd Heistand. He is a tri-vocational pastor (not counting the additional two vocations of husband and father!) and his community is called The Well which is in Feasterville, PA. (Not to be confused with The Well in Orange County, CA that I have blogged about previously, which is a community intentionally transitioning into a network of cells.)

Todd recently posted a very open description of his weekly schedule and wondered aloud about it's sustainability long term.

In my mind, I think he's raising a broader question, not about the sustainability of pastoral life per se but about the sustainability of a congregational life that's built upon unsustainable leadership expectations. Maybe part of the problem is what we assume is required for congregational life, in particular, weekly large-group presentational worship services.

Here is how I presented the question to him:

Todd – I echo the comments above, grateful for your transparency.

I also wonder about sustainability, but from a different angle. If this is what it takes to provide leadership to a missional community, then is the model itself sustainable for the Church?

I’ve mulled this over quite a bit and my thinking has been strongly challenged by the simple/organic/house church expressions that I’ve encountered. It’s left me wondering if we’re encountering a stumbling block in our assumption that we have to offer a large group gathering every week. I do think people should be gathering weekly, but that could be in the home/small groups. But what if the larger community gathered, say, monthly for something more like a traditional worship service with sermon, liturgy, music etc.?

So my question to you is this: if your community went to a monthly gathering, would that make enough difference in the workload that your current tri-vocational + family lifestyle would be sustainable over the long haul?

If you're interested, you can follow that conversation on his blog though I'll probably cross post some of that here as well. But I'm interested in hearing from my readers.

What do you think about the sustainability issue, both pastoral and congregational, and my suggestion to have weekly small gatherings supported by a monthly larger service?

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