Friday, 4 January 2008

Sustainable church?

I've been reflecting on what a sustainable way of running the church might be. Reading some of the clergy blogs about the exhaustion following presiding services for the feast of incarnation also gave me food for thought. The decline of many of the traditional churches in Western Europe means that many clergy perform something akin to palliative care for institutions that are radically changing or dying.
Returning to my former parish over recent months and on Christmas Day also made me re-examine whether my own way of ministering was at all sustainable. I think I was driven by guilt rather than by grace for much of the time. Part of me can see that halving the number of services the church has each month is more sustainable, but when you have done 7 years of two or three services a Sunday starting at 9.15, it's sometimes a little difficult to see that change come in and to see it work well!
Lots of what is written about sustainable church on the web seems to be about using fairly traded food and green energy like this church tries to and like the Christian ecology link encourage churches to. There isn't masses about working styles and sustainability. The church is essentially about working with people which always requires an enormous investment of time - and is also fabulous, fun and frustrating. Pastoral care is always a privilege but it's usually completely knackering too, but maybe that just says something about me.
Surfing on the web the Church Action on Poverty approach to sustainability seems interesting. It looks at the creation of sustainable jobs and working environments by evaluating the political and social context and structures. As I prepare to go to Rome again in a month for the second part of my course I think I need to challenge myself about management and sustainability. I suspect that means challenging myself about setting sustainable expections. Hmm...