Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Clubs And Teaching moments

Last night was night two of the Lent Book Club series. The book is "The Shack", which I admit was an interesting surprise. At times, the writing tends to the glurge-eriffic (a little melodramatic and emotional, perhaps), and at times, I'm not totally on board with the God (are we creating a new stereotype of the black woman as big, happy, and deeply spiritual?), but it was a reasonable read that is creating good discussion.

Granted, I would have liked to see a larger group. After an initial group of 17, I split the tables up into three groups (two for the book club, one for the Vestry), and hoped to stimulate more discussion in smaller groups. 17 is a little large to have a real in-depth discussion. But with several Vestry members AWOL, we were able to keep the group in one group after all. I got a lot of flak and talk-back on splitting up into groups. My favorite comment was, "Well, everyone will just sit with everyone they know, and we won't get to know anyone else!". Well, if that's the problem, then you need to learn to say to your friends, "Hey guys, I love ya, but I'm going to go sit with that group over there to get to know someone new, ok? We'll do lunch."

The vestry had a nice meeting, though a few grumbles are re-surfacing. The vestry is doing a great job of being very can-do and positive thinking. We get some grumbles, like around the Palm Sunday service. The Liturgy Committee and I decided to have just Morning Prayer, followed by rehearsal for the Passion Gospel, then a BIG, All-stops-pulled Palm Sunday service at 10. Last year, I had a ton of complaints that there was no communal reading of the Gospel. This year, I'm responding to that. But honestly, in a parish with an average Sunday attendance of 25, you can't do two all-stops-pulled services in one day. You gotta put your energy and your eggs in one basket. Is it ideal? No. But I'd rather have one service done really, really well, then two services just half-baked. In a part-time parish, even at the "high holies" of the year, I feel we best serve God by doing liturgy deeply and well- even if it means fewer liturgies. Do fewer services and do them astoundingly well, rather than a lot of services badly done.

Of course, I'm a little confused right now. I was getting complaints that I just DID things and didn't teach anybody what was going on. Then I started going over services with the participants before the service so we could all understand what was happening and why, and I started doing short explanations before the service of new bits of the liturgy. Now I am getting the complaint that I'm being too "teacherly" and spending too much time explaining when people just want to worship. Oy! What's the balance?


Klassiklehrer said...

There are two doors. One of them is marked "Damned If You Do."

One question is whether any new members attend the early service. If not, it may be a dwindling phenomenon.

The Vagabond Priest said...

Yes, actually- Bill and Mandi. They have interesting insights from the point of view of the newcomer. Ask them about their integration experiences sometime. They are classic New England toughies.