The Inwardly-Obsessed Church

Here’s a short article that is worth a read. This description of the warning signs of inwardly-obsessed congregations is frighteningly accurate. Many of us in pastoral ministry in PCI recognise number 6 as being particularly relevant. No matter how many pastoral visits we do, we just don’t seem to do enough. And those pastors with sensitive consciences are left feeling guilty and stressed. That’s why a re-evaluation of pastoral care in our congregations is important, and the report from last year’s General Assembly is so helpful.

2 Replies to “The Inwardly-Obsessed Church”

  1. Interesting post Stafford. Number 3 on the list has to be up there somewhere doesn’t it?

    Jack Miller has 7 problems identified in his ‘Outgrowing the Ingrown Church’:

    1. Tunnel Vision
    2. Shared sense of group superiority
    3. Extreme sensitivity to negative human opinion
    4. Niceness in tone
    5.Christian soap opera in style
    6. Confused leadership roles
    7. Misdirected purpose

    Miller’s answer was to emphasize repentance in the preacher’s life and the importance of prayer in the Church.

  2. Many people in Northern Ireland see the church as an organisation that meets their religious or even social ‘needs’ rather than a Christ centred place of transformation. Naturally they will especially look to the paid person, the minister, to meet such needs. The reality today is that fewer and fewer people see the church as a place to fulfil these needs. And the reason for this is precisely because many have not seen the church as a place of transformation. Therefore, it may well be that it is church goers who need to repent rather than the preacher! Although perhaps, as has been suggested to me, we as shepherds need to repent of the part we have (even inadvertently and with good intentions) played in perpetuating these wrong expectations.

    Recently I was asked if the new model of pastoral care described in the General Assembly report which advocates forming a pastoral care team only adds to this problem (although it might provide welcome relief to overworked ministers). The answer is yes, it could but that is not all there is to the new model – the model is also centred on small groups which should be places of transformation as Christians share together in prayer, learning from the Bible, caring for each other and supporting each other in mission to a world that also needs transformation by Christ. The pastoral care team complements this by providing a deeper level of care for people who need it such as those going through a serious crisis or bereavement. And of course small groups complement what happens on a Sunday when the whole church gathers together to worship and receive from God’s Word.

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