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« Hostmanship, not Hospitality | Main | The Preacher as Entrepreneur »

May 03, 2007

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Ed Brenegar

If we think of scarcity in strictly economic terms, then I think rural communities suffering from a late spring freeze that destroys this year's crop makes a lot of sense. We lost our apple crop here in Henderson County. Worst loss in 50 years.
However, the abundance of caring that people can share with one another can be a way to counter this sense of loss. The challenge is to move it from words to deeds. To structure the caring so it makes a difference where it needs to.
Part of the shift from a scarcity mindset to an abundance one is learning to see what you have that are assets that you can build upon. It really just takes simple little steps to help people see that they have more control. I'll say more about this in another posting soon.
For example, what if you saw your half empty sanctuary as an opportunity rather than evidence of a smaller congregation than in the past. How can that space become something of greater value to the people of the church and their community?
Abundance thinking is a mindset that looks at things as assets rather than as liabilities and tries to imagine what the opportunity is.
The conversation that you can have with people that leads them to see things in this way may not find a new use for the sanctuary, but it might lead to some other opportunity that noone has thought of. It just begins with believing that God can be with you as the conversation takes place.
Thanks Dennis for your thoughtful comment.

DennisS

I agree that we should be focused upon being missional.

In my context - aging, rural congregation, with over 30 years of continual decline (membership, finances, wider context) - I find it hard to recognize abundance. The building is over 50 years old, the sanctuary can hold 5 times more people than attend, finances are always tight, etc.

Finding people willing to serve as Elder or Deacon is a challenge. To save money we've gone to asking volunteers to mow the yard. That worked fine for a few years, but now we've lost some of those who used to mow, and even with folks taking two-week slots, a couple times each summer (4 weeks of mowing), there are still plenty of open slots for the summer.

In this small community, we have fund drives, such as the one to assist a teenager and her family, as they deal with the costs of cancer treatment. People band together in community, which is great. But even then, it doesn't feel like there is an abundance. The economy still revolves around agriculture. It looked like we would have a tremendous wheat crop this year, and then a late freeze destroyed that hope. These type of things reinforce the feeling of scarcity.

Even though we don't seem to experience much abundance, it seems to me this is the reason we have lost many of the younger generations. They could see the difference between the way the church preached, and the way they lived. There was a lack of authenticity in the message.

People here seem to want to know that God truly has power to change lives (for the better), that God isn't impotent. And I believe that a missional approach will be effective even where abundance seems so remote.

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