Saturday, January 10, 2009

Books and Movies

So my English major daughter (soon to graduate--4 mos!) told me about this first book (Jealous? Who, me?) of Diane Setterfield that she and her roommate just finished which she highly recommended. Since she is a tough sell, I decided to check it out, literally, from the library and see what all the fuss was about. Now Jorge is reading it.

Many of you know I'm not a fiction person, and I rarely do a review, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think you might, too.

From the inside jacket: It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, and topiary garden and a devastating fire.

I loved being caught up in the mystery of the story of a famous authoress who decides to set the record of her life story straight before she passes away. And one of the main themes of the story explores "twinness," which I found fascinating.

Plus, you get lots of literary references which underscore an ode to the love of reading. If you like a Jane Eyre-ish type mystery, you might like this.

I just finished Simple Church, a book similar to Willow Creek's Reveal study, which looks at churches that successfully help new believers take the next steps in their growth, from being new believers to becoming fully-engaged, mature believers serving the community/world.

Basically, the authors purport that excessive programming is squashing growth rather than promoting it. Our staff is interested in this book because in our community, we are a large church which does a lot of programming. We're kind of reassessing where we are to see if we're on track with mentoring followers of Christ in our local body.

Just wondering about you church-goers out there ... do you have a problem with a small percentage of your congregation doing a large percentage of your volunteering? If not, how do you communicate the necessity of each person serving in some capacity or another?

17 comments:

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Oooo oooo ooooo! My heart SANG when you said "if you like Jane Eyre..."

I absolutely LOVE Jane Eyre! I'm like you in the fiction department, but I think I may have to read this one.

Most churches I've been, I've seen that same thing...a small percentage doing the work. In the church we're in now, I'm not sure what the percentages are because it's so large. If I had to guess, I think we probably have a larger percentage than most places, though. But it's the first place I've been where I've suspected that, though.

Becky said...

Our church is small... about 40 members (including kids). So our programs are minimal. My parents church on the other hand is about 150 members and they tend to over program trying to grow. They plan and spend and what they end up with is the ten people who put it all together and one "newbie". My parents get frustrated with people who come but don't 'minister' to the body in any way.

Jerri Phillips said...

Our church has done a variety of things.

Every new member goes through a class and at the end of class is assigned a placement coach that helps them find a place to serve. Big Key--the ministry departments have to reply to emails and phone calls of placement coach and the person. (Our departments did not find this important, so this didn't work well.)

There was a very nice brochure developed listing volunteer positions with descriptions, training requirements, time commitment, etc. It truly was well done, but again, there has to be response from the departments...

We've also done gift surveys that helped folks figure out where they might fit in.

The church also hosted a few "get plugged in" nights. It is like college night church style. All the ministry departments were there, and folks walked from table to table meeting people, getting information, etc. What my husband and I found to be a negative was the groups we were truly interested in were "in the works" or "coming soon" and then never did. That really leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. The keys are to have active ministries or "no doubt" ministries and to make sure contact is made afterward.

My personal frustration with being part of a big church (12,000+) are the lack of outreach and actual ministry programs. There are lots of "in church" things, but taking it outside the walls has generally been limited to a few mission trips a year. Most "outside" ministry is done by individuals who develop the ministry on their own. For instance, several of us were interested in developing a drama team for evangelistic purposes, and we were told if we wanted to participate in the drama team for the children's department, we were welcome to do that. Otherwise, the church had no interest and would not support it in any way.

So I guess one thing you might ask is if there are areas where folks want to serve that no one else at your church is doing.

For instance, my husband and I have a desire to see families reconnect, so we developed a program that taught parents how to have family nights, have conversations with their children, be active in daily lives with their children, and make special days for the family. Although we received a lot of compliments on it, there was no vision for it at our church. Maybe there are people in your church who have visions for ministry that don't fit any open places right now. Maybe you could help them launch that vision so that it blesses them and members of your church.

Just a few thoughts...

Mel said...

Hooray on the 4 months, what a wonderful milestone. I do think overall at least in my experience that small percentages do the bulk of the volunteering...

However, I think part of the reason is that folks don't know where they fit, or what their gifts are. They may want to voluteer but not go through the rigamorle required to volunteer.

Aunt LoLo said...

i couldn't let this pass me by - I'm a "Mormon" and we are nothing if not a service-driven congregation! None of our positions are paid, from library worker to bishop. The different leaders of the auxiliaries pray and choose who they would like to fill different positions, the bishop is then asked for approval. After HE has prayed about it, invitations are extended to those individuals to serve. We believe that nobody will make the switch from New Member to fully active without three things:
1) the word of God
2) a friend
3) opportunities to serve.

When we feel needed, we continue at attend and serve! (I am currently serving as a worker in the Primary, team teaching the 7 year olds with my husband.)

mtnest423 said...

Not sure I've ever commented on your blog, but I read it daily.

My family attends a fairly large (about 500 avg. Sunday) church, and we have been very heavily involved. My husband is a deacon, teaches children's lifegroup (aka Sunday school), serves as a leader at youth camps, etc. I was on staff as office administrator and publications, and still lead Bible studies, head up the visual media team, and answer a lot of the office computer questions.

I am burned out. If we're going to be gone for a weekend, I have to make sure all our bases are covered. Someone to take my husband's teaching position (yes, he takes care of getting someone but I still check it off MY list), someone to be in the booth early Sunday morning to get things set up, etc.

And I know I'm not the only one. Why aren't more people willing to make a commitment to serve?

I think too much programming is part of the answer.

We have been attending our church for about 20 years. Right now we're facing leadership issues, and I know it's not the time to "jump ship." But the thought of finding a smaller, simpler church is appealing.

BTW - you are too funny. You make me laugh almost every day and think "I wish I knew her."

Not like I'm stalking or anything.

R.L.Scovens said...

I have a copy of The Thirteenth Tale but I've never read it.

lmerie said...

I love fiction - and especially the ones that do not have 3/4 of the country OR Oprah following - thanks for the tip . . .

Mocha with Linda said...

The books sound intriguing. Funny - I just saw the Simple Church one on a friend's table last night!

And yes, this is anissue with the current culture and with churches who have previously been "seeker" oriented. Many of the baby Christians have the "did the Sunday morning church thing" mentality. And besides serving, giving money is a huge issue.

Erin said...

I read "The Thirteenth Tale" last year and I really enjoyed it. It really drew me into the story and I found it hard to put down.

Our church most definitely has the problem of few people doing all the work. My husband and I are currently Deacons in our church and we have found that it is really hard to get people to volunteer. So the same people do things. It's a little disheartening, especially when you see the church growing significantly.

Cathy Davis said...

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skoots1mom said...

thanks for the Thirteenth tale info...i'm going to pass this to my 16yo...she loves to read these kinds of things...

also, i'm going to pass along the Simple Church book...we're a little stuck on programming too!
I find that when we're increasing our spiritual growth and our prayer times, He causes our missions to grow in our members rather than us pushing for their stewardship...
and, we're working now involving our youth in more hands-on missions in our county...raking, picking up trash, handing out sandwiches to the homeless, taking bags with a cola/crackers/gum to families waiting in the emergency room...it's been great watching the kids engage and see the difference helping

Rachel said...

I think the small percentage workers = big percentage work holds true for most churches, big or small. But I whole heartedly agree with the message of the book, that programs are squashing out discipleship. I'm going to have to go read it now.

PS Andrea & I gave you an award today. :)

annie's eyes said...

I'm with you--not much of a fiction reader, but I am a twin, so the plot appeals to me. And an escape into a book always entices me. As for church, I recently moved from a church where everyone was growing old and only the older people did all the work--huge problem as the main contributors and worker bees started dying off! I left as this was happening for a church where I have a hard time finding a place to volunteer. I have to take the first step, instead of them grabbing the first warm, breathing body. It is a switch I haven't mastered yet. What would make it easier for me is to have a person my age tell me what is available and where needs are. I have a lot to contribute but have not been tapped. I wrote and filled out a form even to help the teens, and no one contacted me. So, the pendulum swings both ways. I need to get back into it again, though, for me, as well as for serving others. Maybe you could do one of those surveys on your blog and find out more succinctly what is going on...Love you, Annette

rita said...

I started volunteering when it was made easy by team work. Summer Sunday School is different with everyone carrying a small part and the host of workers putting on a fantastic program. Similarly, school-year SS is shared by 2 or 3 teachers for each class. I lead Jr. Worship one Sunday a month and for only one of the services, so I don't miss out on the main worship either.

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

10% of the people do 90% of the work. Now the trend of all the hodge podge of programs has added to the workload and the 10% are worn out and often resentful. I'm working on a post that addresses what Simple Church discusses. All the programs are not helping us grow. (I'll let you know when it's up!)

The Eiffel Tower looks great against your new wallpaper. Very French, Madame!!

Brenda Susan said...

Sounds like a good book (SImple Church). My large church has let go of the program idea for the past few years due to the burn out issue etc.
We never have a ministry BEFORE having someone who is passionate enough to DO it & love it! For ex. No youth leader? No Youth Group. Simple as that.
We re-examined what the church is supposed to be. Not babysitters, hand-holders, or a place to complain. It's a gathering of people in love with God, period.