Death and dying is a topic we rarely want to talk about until it confronts us personally through our own health, a family member, or a close friend. It isn’t until that moment that we take time to investigate the best route to take for continued quality care. Our health is essential to everything we do. In my opinion, it is the same for the church. Until we actually experience smaller numbers in the congregation or budgets shrinking to the point we no longer can afford the necessities to keep the congregation active, we seldom take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Hidden Lives of Congregations: Understanding Church Dynamics by Israel Galindo, Christian educator and consultant, helps us understand the life cycle happening in all sizes of congregations. Alban Institute describes the content as, “taking leaders below the surface of congregational life to provide a comprehensive, holistic look at the corporate nature of church relationships and the invisible dynamics at play.” Israel addresses the fact that we tend to deal with surface issues only to discover the same problems occur repeatedly and in different and sometimes even more serious ways.
In the medical world, serious illnesses and death are treated in very specific ways. Most often there are two types of care provided: Hospice and Palliative Care. Hospice most often is for the most serious of health threats. Palliative Care is a special type of care provided for people with serious illnesses as well as end of life situations. This type of care is becoming better known as it is more about providing quality of life. I cannot help but question what we, the church, can learn from this type of care.
Palliative Care is a team approach and provides:
For us, in the church, perhaps taking heed of the wisdom behind the Palliative Care approach would be helpful as we thirst to establish healthy congregations where worship and Bible study thrive. I am convinced quality care of our congregations can lead to vibrant faith formation.
What can we, in the congregation, provide using the approach listed above?
These are just a few of my own suggestions. I hope you take some time to be realistic about steps needed to ensure continued faith formation growth in the congregation. Although we do not want to think about an end of life situation, it is important to consider how we can maintain a quality of life that makes us healthy and strong for generations to come.
“I pray that all goes well for you. I hope that you are as strong in body, as I know you are in spirit.”
(3 John 1:2)
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: