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Fear . . .moving beyond it

Fear . . .moving beyond it

The longer I coach congregations the more I realize how much fear plays a role in congregational dysfunction. I see pastors unwilling to confront parishioners regarding their inappropriate behavior. I see congregational leaders fail to evaluate programs and ministries out of fear of what they might find out. I see youth workers say “yes” to everything out of fear of losing their jobs if they say “no”. I see volunteers “trying harder” to prop up dying programs out of fear of trying something new. I see members express their frustrations about an individual among their friends because they’re too insecure to speak the truth directly to the party involved. I believe that fear immobilizes our capacity to be proactive. I believe that fear hinders our capacity to live into God’s preferred future for ourselves and our congregations. Please share how you see fear show up in your congregation. Please share how you manage fear in ways that allow ministry to move forward. I look forward to your insights and ideas!

Some Toughts (5)

  1. Matthew
    added on 21 Apr, 2011

    I think that fear plays a huge part in keeping people from being true to themselves and others. This seems to happen everywhere, in many situations, in different settings. I have noticed that people seem to be ok with living with the consequences of turning their heads from that which they fear as long as they don’t have to confront their fears head on. I grew up in a church that allowed youth workers to teach whatever they wanted unquestioned. This was fine until a youth worker wanted to teach material that didn’t fit with Lutheran Theology and was exclusive. The members of the congregation decided instead of reading the material to find out what it was about that they would create sides and battle it out. I wish that more members and the leadership of the church would have taken a look at the material and decided from there what they thought was the right course of action.

  2. Paul Hill
    added on 25 Apr, 2011

    Good post Jim, although I’m afraid to admit it. 🙂

    • added on 2 Jul, 2012

      That’s a creative answer to a diffciult question

  3. DebG
    added on 26 Apr, 2011

    SO familiar! Reading this, Jim, I’m thinking that you have looked into my mind…or my congregation. So much of what we do is motivated by our anxiety rather than by God’s love. That goes right up to our leadership (at all levels)…and I’m getting discouraged being in a congregation that fears risking doing things differently. How do I manage? I keep reminding myself that love casts out fear. My own level of fear is not so high, but I see it all around, and I don’t know how I CAN manage that. When clergy lead out of fear, it’s difficult for others to break through that. Ironically, I think that fear of losing members, as it turns into resistance to change, is resulting in membership loss anyway.

  4. Sandy
    added on 24 May, 2011

    I agree that fear is a driving force among us. As a pastor, I feel called to be the calming presence in the midst of disagreement and schism. That means I work at helping the opposing sides in a conflict to see at least a little of what the others are thinking/feeling. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I pray that seeds are planted for thoughts that may lead to non-combative dialogue in the future.

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