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Thread: A Crisis of Fellowship?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammy View Post

    My husband was a pastor for 20 years. We watched huge changes occur in the church in the 80s and 90s, and continue to observe change from the outside now. People are increasingly disinterested in organized group activities, and increasingly searching for a handful of friends who will be like family to each other.
    While I would say that this is true in part, I would note that a lot of younger families (my age and younger) are increasingly disinterested in church because church is disinterested in us. As such, we seek our own communities.

    I find that the process of belonging to a church is not acceptance but assimilation -- and I don't assimilate easily. Which then leads to 'tolerance' from them.

    And I don't deserve to be merely "tolerated" -- like everyone, I deserve to be celebrated. Fellowship is that.

    And that is part of the origin of the crisis of fellowship.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    As a very regular churchgoer myself, I've noticed that there are people who do NOT want the community. Period. They come to church right when the service starts and leave immediately after. They don't ever come to coffee hour or any events. They may even scowl if you dare say hello or good morning. They want to be considered "members" but don't actually want to participate in anything. They even shy away from talking with our priest. We've got a small parish of about 200, so it's not a huge anonymous congregation where you can hide.

    I'm in the process of revising our simple parish directory and there were about 10 new families/households. I knew 2 of them. Mind you, I'm there all the time. When I was discussing the revision with our priest, I had to ask him who these other new people are.

  3. #23
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    I would also say that volunteer opportunities in most communities *abound* and I have been able to find several that fit how I function. Part of the issue of volunteering at DS's school is that what they want from me doesn't suit my interests or skill set,so it's just an exercise in frustration, even though I know they need people to do certain roles. Likewise, since I work more than full time, the main position that I would be good at is basically a full time job on it's own, better suited to the woman who does it -- a stay at home mom of one child in the school, and a role she took from a woman in the same position before her, and on back as far as I know. At the main school, there are mostly stay at home mothers running a lot of jobs, but when my husband said he would volunteer, they didn't know what to do with him. He doesn't have the skill sets they expect him to have (building, web page coding, etc), and the skills that he does have they don't have use for. So right now, he's basically been benched. Which is fine, too. He'll spend that time working on his own projects.

    We have done really well though in other areas: our community gardening is fun; we are working with our little suburb to get some things sorted for a sort-of community center. We are helping them formulate how to utilize the space and make it sustainable and profitable, and also how to get some grants from the city council and national government to do the improvements that they need to do, as well as relying on local community resources to get some work done for a lower rate than normal (ie, an interior architect managing how the building might be redesigned for the community's use).

    we're good at this sort of organizational work, and since the main people in charge are good at executing the admin side of it, we simply assert what could be done, work with the planning committee to create a plan (it's still in the early phases where we will then open it up to community comment before pursuing resources), and then they'll do the grant writing, etc, manage the renovation, etc. We are just helping to set things in motion.

    This has really set us up as "local community leaders" even though that wasn't our intention, and we might have the opportunity to renovate three buildings in our neighborhood on this one action -- the building that we're talking about now, and the two old scouting hall buildings (one of which is mostly burned from fire) which could be used for differnt community activities.

    Another friend of mine is an artist, and she and three other artist friends creaetd the "arts trail" of our neighborhood, which is a little walking map of all of the arts in this peninsula, and galleries and so on. This has been included in the city council's "summer city" program guide, as well as available to the people who come on the cruise ships, and in our various other tourism offices where people can see what is what. They are working on a "wellington" one, which will include them as well. I think it's a great idea.

    So, you know, we are doing a lot of things that we are good at -- and we're hoping that the community center can have seasonal events as well, which will bring people together (most people are really just focused around the kindy/school -- so if your kid doesn't go there, you aren't involved). My friend who owns a shamanic-based arts center is also doing community theater work as part of the equation, and would be able to be hosted at the community center if we get it up and running. so a lot of great pollination.

  4. #24
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    Have seen a lot of what others describe. A few strategies that might help for the specific situation:

    1) Think about having a whole church Valentine's dinner for families. Serve something favorite for your area and comforting for your food such as *spaghetti(with veg option)/salad/bread/dessert
    *Soup and homemade bread
    *Shrimp boil dinner

    Have a group singing event after dinner

    2) Start now to line up families to host the other holidays this year. Also look for some older widows/couples who might be on a tight budget, but who have a good sized dining room plus kitchen table and still have a large collection of dishes. See if they will host an organized potluck for some of the people without family in the area. Check to see if they might like some volunteers to come a day or two before to help with cleaning/ decorating/sidewalk shoveling if needed.

    3) If there is a vegetarian/meat mismatch, let organizers know that you are happy to host nonvegetarians as long as the guest is alerted that it will be a vegetarian meal. It's good for the organizers to know what a household is offering in case there are guests who would prefer a vegetarian meal as they would have an easier time at your house.

  5. #25
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    I think that's great forward thinking, ANM.

    Tradd, I know those sorts too. I think people do church for different reasons -- some want the ritual and to raise their kids with the ritual and practices, whereas others want the whole communal thing.

    I was going seeking community. Having rarely found it, we eventually opted out. The quakers were great, but in our situation, it was what Steve said. We were just too busy. It was sad really. We could do services on sunday, but not much else.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoebird View Post
    I find that the process of belonging to a church is not acceptance but assimilation -- and I don't assimilate easily. Which then leads to 'tolerance' from them. And I don't deserve to be merely "tolerated" -- like everyone, I deserve to be celebrated.
    This is very important to us. When new members join our church, part of the charge to the congregation, beyond welcoming them, etc., is to acknowledge and honor "the change that these new members will​ bring".

  7. #27
    Senior Member Miss Cellane's Avatar
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    Also, don't overlook the impact of other things that require volunteers. People only have so much time and energy to volunteer, and it seems like more and more things require volunteers.

    If you have a kid who does sports--good grief, the amount of time that takes can be incredible. My brother and SIL were so relived when my niece decided to quit swim team. A parent had to volunteer at every meet, which basically meant giving up one day every weekend. Plus, my brother ran the team's website, which took hours every week to post the results, but it got them out of volunteering at some meets--and they only wrangled that because the coaches really wanted my niece on the team and her parents flat out told them that she couldn't compete, because they simply could not handle the volunteer demands made on the parents. Plus driving Niece to practices and swim club pretty much daily. And fundraising. My brother was happy Niece decided to quit while she was still in middle school.

    There are a lot of different organizations out there that need or require volunteers. What I've seen is that most families have the time and energy to volunteer at one organization. Maybe two. But if you are seriously involved in an organization, that one thing sucks up all your volunteer time. I've noticed that entire families seem to volunteer at the same thing--they are all involved with their church, or the swim team or the football team or the cancer walk or the [insert charity here]. It's easier and it saves time, because everyone is going to the same place at the same time, instead of volunteering at several different places at different times during the family's limited available volunteer time. If all members of the family volunteered at different things, they'd have less time to see and do things with each other.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    My parents were very active in their church. At a time when they reached old age and were no longer able to attend church services or participate in church activities, their church fellowships pretty much dropped out of the picture. At a time when they could really have used some friends and support. It was sort of a mystery to me why this would happen, but it diminished my attitude on church fellowship.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by bicker View Post

    I think neither: I fear there's just a bit too much "someone else will handle it" going on.
    Of all of the ills of our current society (in the U.S.) I think this saddens me the most. It seems so common. Maybe it's just an illusion.
    Someone else will take care of "those people."
    Someone else will volunteer to help.
    Someone else will pick up my trash (cigarette butts, dog poop, toxic waste, whatever)
    Someone else -- some nameless, faceless somebody I don't know -- will do it, so I can go back to playing Wii.

    How we became this way, I'm not sure. But I see it all around and it sure does make me sad sometimes.

    The converse makes me very happy. We had too many volunteers sign up to give Christmas gifts to our local families under the poverty line, for example - more people volunteered than had signed up to get help. Imagine a society where there is always more help and hands than a situation requires.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoebird View Post
    While I would say that this is true in part, I would note that a lot of younger families (my age and younger) are increasingly disinterested in church because church is disinterested in us. As such, we seek our own communities.

    I find that the process of belonging to a church is not acceptance but assimilation -- and I don't assimilate easily. Which then leads to 'tolerance' from them.

    And I don't deserve to be merely "tolerated" -- like everyone, I deserve to be celebrated. Fellowship is that.

    And that is part of the origin of the crisis of fellowship.
    This is one reason I have chosen to volunteer at my local VA hospital rather then thru a church. Not only am I a veteran who uses the VA services myself so want to do what I can for other veterans (the shared brotherhood/sisterhood thing) but there is no religious component to it. As a non-religious person I have also felt that I was required to share the faith of any organisation I volunteered with (even the food pantry which was a christian-based pantry). I like this secular arena much better.

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