Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Read and Learn: 10 Things To Toss

PresbyBlogger Jan Edmiston (A Church For Starving Artists) had an intriguing post Monday of this week, prompted by a Washington Post feature on What 10 Things the World Should Toss. Since I'm in the process of tossing the accumulated stuff of 20 years as we prepare to move to a newer and smaller home, this particularly spoke to me.

Jan asks,
What are 10 Big Things (or 2 or 5 or 11) we should toss in the church today?
And again, it's not just for the sake of stirring up trouble. But what institutions/sacred cows should be tossed in the 21st Century Church - and why?
Here's the link to the whole post, which garnered some thought-provoking comments.

So here's the challenge -- how would you answer the question? Put your answer in the comments or if you posted on this topic on your blog, leave a link in the comments so we can visit you.

Here's my list:

1. Outdated Women's Groups
2. Vacation Bible School
3. Church groups that are social clubs
4. "Traditional" Sunday School organizations with officers, etc.
5. Stewardship Sunday ( at least on an annual basis)
6. Outdated Men's Groups
7. Bad Church Coffee
8. Potluck Dinners
9. Youth Groups That Isolate Youth From the Rest of the Church
10. Sessions that operate exclusively as boards of directors


Elaine said...

Anything that involves a centerpiece.
Film strips (yes, we still keep them)

Norman, Oklahoma

B-W said...

Not trying to be contentious, but why "toss" Vacation Bible School? I was under the impression that kids still found this meaningful.

Quotidian Grace said...

You're not being contentious!

My problem with VBS is that I think it is a relic of my childhood that seldom really fits the needs of children and families today.

In the old days VBS offered kids something to do and was well-staffed by stay at home Moms. (Of which I used to be one myself.)

My experience as a DCE was that children are increasingly scheduled throughout the summer due to their parents' need for child care while both work AND the attempt to give them lots of experiences. VBS now competes with many other opportunities.

Likewise the pool of adults available to co-ordinate and teach the program has become very small. Some churches have had success with evening VBS programs--but most don't.

Like all the other things we may want to toss--what is should be tossed in one church may be something important and meaningful in another.

John Edward Harris said...

I'm willing to toss nine out of the ten, but i will fight tooth and nail to keep potlock dinners. This is where some of my best ministry, and best eating, have taken place.

Sarahlynn said...

I'm such a traditionalist. In certain ways.

I love my PW Circle, which is just about as outdated a women's group as there is, except that ours sort of isn't, despite existing within the (dying) extremely traditional framework.

My eldest doesn't attend VBS because it conflicts with summer school, but our church runs a second version later in the summer - with an environmentalist theme - that we all LOVE. I feel guilt for not serving as a leader, though.

Our senior pastor is from Washington state and one of the best changes he'd brought to our church is GREAT COFFEE! I was all for that change. Now if only we could toss the powdered creamer . . .

And I guess I'd toss the boringly long anthems, too.

I'd LOVE to toss out the practice of asking parents of young children to teach youth Sunday School and volunteer in the nursery. Aren't there other folks - those without children, those with older children, those with less daily exposure to children - who might be more enthusiastic about this ministry?

I have two very young children at home. It's no accident that I teach ADULT Sunday School!

Elaine said...

I loathed VBS as a child and refused to go. Until last year I didn't see it getting any better. Last year the Church made an effort to attract local, low-income children and provide a brief period of high-quality care for them. Oh, we also run after school tutoring/mentoring programs for school aged kids, so this isn't a completely new concept. Nonetheless, it made me think that maybe there is a place for VBS.

Norman, Oklahoma

Stushie said...

VBS is a big help to single working moms without regular childcare and whose kids don't get any summer vacation. Our church does this in the mornings for a week during summer - we had about 120 kids last year and half of those didn't belong to the church.

Think about it as a Summer Mission trip without going anywhere...:)

Sarahlynn said...

It's tricky for 9-5 working parents, though, with later drop-off and earlier pick-up times. Maybe a full-day VBS so that parents could drop off and pick-up before and after work, like daycare?

So many activities are set up for families with one parent at home . . .

You're right about the vacation for those who won't travel, though. That's huge.

jairus' daughter said...

okay i won't argue against tossing things i support (VBS, potlucks, youth groups, bad coffee as long as there's sugar and cream)

BUT here are the things i think need tossing:

*short-term mission trips, *short-term mission trips,
*short-term mission trips
(thrice because i have three strikes against them: 1) waste of jet fuel, 2) culturally insulting to the third-world folk we "help, and 3) alleviates the guilt we ought to feel about living in such a rich and powerful country)
*overstaffing (full-time pastorates which take away the congregation's ownership of their own spiritual lives and activities)
*installing new stained glass windows (okay, what i mean is, all expenses on such a ridiculously high scale), including
*pipe organs (unless the secular music community is supportive enough to keep them in repair)
*expensive, imported flowers on the table
*Christmas trees and other non-religious decoration efforts
*individual-serve communion cups: !!!!!!!!!!!!!