I think that I made a mistake a couple of articles ago when I confessed that I like pulling weeds. The best that I can figure, word of this confession made it back to my weeds. Since that time, they have brought their “A” game to my yard. There have been so many weeds!
At first, I did my best keeping up with the weeds. I was trying to pull each one of them by hand. What worked early in the season was no longer working. In addition to not being able to keep up with the weeds, my back started hurting. In the interest of full transparency, I have to admit that around the same time my back started hurting, I was trying to take down a cupboard from above our washing machine. It turned out that this wasn’t a one-person job. I figured this out when I fell off my step-stool and slammed into the wall while still holding the cupboard. So, it’s possible that my aching back wasn’t from the weeds…
The weeds, though, were becoming a real pain. This journey started with the decision that I don’t want to use poison on my weeds. That has always been my solution in the past, and I wanted to find a different answer. I have now determined that pulling the weeds by hand is also not my answer. I couldn’t keep up, and it possibly resulted in my back hurting (when I took down the second cupboard I made sure to get someone to help me). How do we find other solutions?
In my case, I found an article on the internet. It was describing six approaches to dealing with weeds in the yard. The first three didn’t apply to my rock yard. One of the remaining solutions is what my neighbor across the street does. He burns his weeds. He has a torch hooked up to a propane tank. He shared that he gets some satisfaction watching the weeds burn. I might need to keep an eye on this neighbor (he is also a youth pastor, which adds to the story)! I’m not big on fire, so I decided not to use this approach.
The next approach they described was using a hoe to cut down the weeds. I like low-tech solutions, so this one made my list. I decided that I would follow-up by seeing if we own a hoe (we have in the past, but with all this moving, I have problems finding anything!).
The last approach in the article amused me. They suggested changing our attitudes toward weeds. That it is almost impossible to get rid of all the weeds, so it is better to come to accept them. They did, however, recommend not allowing the weeds to bloom. As I look at my own weed attitude, I don’t expect to have a weed-less yard. My goal is to keep the weeds under control, and for my yard to be presentable.
My current solution goes back to the hoe. I found that we own a scuffle hoe, which works great with a rock yard. The scuffle hoe has an aluminum square hooked to a handle. It is great for cutting down weeds at their base without going too deep into the ground. I have been using the scuffle hoe for several weeks. My weeds are under control, and my back has quit hurting (I also haven’t taken down any more cupboards).
What does this have to do with churches and ministry? I’m finding that many churches know that what they are doing in some areas of ministry is not working very well, yet they don’t know what else to do. So, they keep doing the same things that are not proving to be very effective. I find that it is a gift to be able to recognize what isn’t working. Then it takes intentionality and courage to do something different. Are we willing to be courageous?
One of the greatest gifts that we have in the United Methodist Church is being connectional. Other churches in our Conference and throughout our denomination are willing to share with us their successes. We also have great Conference leaders, both paid and un-paid, who are invested in each of our churches being effective. There are tools available to be used, just waiting to be selected! Are we looking at the possibilities?
I don’t believe that ministry was ever designed to be done alone. This is part of the reason that we join a church. So often, though, our churches try to find all the answers on their own. We need to learn from each other and trust each other more. This is not a competition to see who can have the biggest, and the best churches. Christianity is a movement to faithfully live our lives in the way that Jesus taught us, and to invite others to join us. We are all in this together!
Your brother on the journey, Mark