Posted by secondchurch on May - 24 - 2017

Thoughts from Pastor Mark

 “The greatest deception [people] suffer is from their own opinions.”  –Leonardo da Vinci

I used to fret about people’s opinions of me and their feelings in general. My obsessions with others’ feelings would keep me up at night. I would be laser focused on some whom I needed to “win over” and ignoring others who I knew were already supportive. I would yearn for positive feedback on anything and everything.

Then, a while back I heard a church growth consultant say that, if you are an effective pastor, at any time about 85% of the congregation will be supportive of the pastor’s ministry and satisfied with the church. Conversely, he said that means 15% will oppose you and the emphases in the church. He asked, “Where are you going to spend your time: trying to win over the 15% who you will never please or working with the 85% who not only appreciate you, but also want to help you further the church’s mission?” Now, I consider people’s opinions as one person’s experience – not necessarily right or wrong – just an feeling which is greatly informed by their history, their fleeting mood, expectations, and needs.

I began my column with this background for a reason. The Transition Team has been asked to share the results of the US Congregational Life Survey. Although I have studied dozens of congregational surveys, I still don’t feel qualified to interpret them. So if you do, please hold your reactions to a particular question lightly. The data is meant to give us an overall picture of the church and congregational life. It’s really not fair to compare individuals to one another, but that’s what this survey does – compare us to thousands of other congregations across the nation.

Click here for Part 1 of the survey results:   Here for Part 2
Regardless of how you read the results, I can tell you that Second Church is blessed in countless ways.

The other thing I think is important in viewing the survey is realizing it’s about our church, which includes you. If you read through the results and don’t see yourself as part of the challenges and the blessings, go back to the beginning. We are a congregational church who weighs the work of the congregation as the epitome of religious expression. And please be cognizant that your opinion is your opinion. Everyone who both participated in the survey and those who will interpret it have opinions. None are better or worse than yours.

Last week during the spiritual retreat sponsored by the deacons, we discovered that the most impactful work we can do in community is based more on group spiritual discernment and less on people’s opinions. I hope to be able to offer more opportunities for spiritual discernment in the future.

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