Response 1: Laura Clayton
I would try not to think in terms of one group of people trying to get another group of people to do something. Our dear Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, counsels, "Exercise more faith in God and His spiritual means and methods, than in man and his material ways and means, of establishing the Cause of Christian Science." (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,p. 152). Our heavenly Father, the one Mind, is at the helm of this movement of Christianly scientific thought.
When I'm tempted to mull over what I think others at church are not doing or doing poorly, I find that such thoughts usually chase themselves in circles and shut out the divine inspiration that truly promotes church progress. So I'd like to reformulate the question: "Dear Father, how can I develop a greater love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, a love that turns away from personalities and problems, and focuses on beholding the perfect man, and on what You, dear Father, are doing right now for us all?" Or, "My Father, how can I see more clearly -- with prophetic vision -- that Your Christ is alive in us as God's children and thus embracing this town or community in Your law of good?"
Our Pastor instructs us in these words from Philippians, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). We can remember that each branch church has a unique membership and a unique community to serve. No one way can be outlined except that which Mrs. Eddy has already outlined in her writings. We have everything we need! So I would love for anyone else to respond to this question with his or her own question that reaches into the heart. Anyone?
Response 2: Dave Hohle
For a church to have a presence in a community is no small thing, and it can be a huge benefit to a neighborhood. Not only does it tend to bless its surroundings, but it involves many points of contact and interaction and provides many opportunities to “afford proof of its utility” (Science and Health, p. 583).
But sometimes managing a church overshadows the purpose of Church. Organizing the various functions and activities, caring for the building, landscaping, staffing, and financing are demanding. Upgrades to building and fire mitigation systems, and weather-related issues are constant.
And that doesn’t even address the issues of by-laws and discipline and making sure the books are audited and which Bible should be used in services.
We might ask ourselves how Jesus might manage a church today. Jesus seemed to have the ability to cut right through to the essence of things. My guess is he’d probably keep it pretty simple. I can almost see him holding a tiny white lily between his thumb and forefinger and speaking lovingly, intelligently, and truthfully to his listeners. I think he’d want people to be comfortable and to get what they came for and for them to feel loved.
In Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Jesus taught by the wayside, in humble homes. He spake of Truth and Love to artless listeners and dull disciples. His immortal words were articulated in a decaying language, and then left to the providence of God” (p. 99).
But what about us? Most of us don’t operate in humble homes and by the wayside. Is there a way we can adjust our work to make it more simple, more Christly? And more effective and useful to our neighbors and ourselves? Is there a way to make church management subservient to purpose?
Here’s one idea: Prior to doing anything for church -- anything -- we can take a moment to remember the purpose of what it is we are about to do. As Mrs. Eddy modeled in her own life, let the Christ go before us. A simple act of yielding can bless each activity, or possibly eliminate it and lead to a better way. The Bible says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (Tim. 1:7).
We can take just a quick moment to yield to divine Mind in each particular area, allowing the Mind of Christ to lead, because the Christ idea is all that is worth accomplishing anyway.
This a simple suggestion, but it might help revolutionize our churches, make them more rousing, useful, and fun.