Of Roses and Church Structures

Yard work has become a reality we’ve had to get adjusted to now that we’ve bought a house. We’ve had to figure out what was planted around the yard, and what survived the rather harsh winter. Once we discovered what kind of plants we had growing around the yard, we had to figure out how to take care of what we had and buy the tools necessary to do what we needed to do.

One of the plants that we have in our yard is a rose bush. We weren’t sure how much of it was healthy for awhile. A lot of it seemed dead, but we didn’t want to just start cutting too soon, and well we couldn’t anyway since we didn’t have trimmers that would work for a rose bush very well at that time. Earlier this week though my wife was able to get to trimming the rose bush and a fairly significant amount of the bush was dead.

Now before the rose bush was trimmed some of the vines that were healthy looked to be pretty strong and upright. After the bush was trimmed and the dead was cut away some of the vines that were alive slumped to the ground. They may have been alive, but they weren’t very strong. They had been relying on the support of the dead vines.

For some reason as I was mowing around the rose bush over the weekend this led me to thinking about the church. I wonder how often this is the case with our church structures. Part of it just dies and never gets cut off. It doesn’t kill the whole church, but when parts spring to life they are unable to become as strong because they’re stuck on all the parts that are dead or “just the way they’ve done things.”

If you don’t cut away all of the dead parts then the stuff that actually has life may never get as strong as it needs to be. What needs to be cut off may vary depending on the church and the situation, but checking to see what needs pruned on a regular basis is a necessary thing to do. What I’m talking about isn’t just to make sure your church is doing the newest thing or filling your activities with all kinds of programs. I just think that we routinely need to examine the church to make sure we’re nurturing and putting time and effort in the parts that are alive and vital.

If this is mistaken for just adding lots of stuff like programs or ideas that are currently cool or faddish, it may look like another situation in our yard. The previous owners also had a herb garden planted. As it grew this year we saw that only two herbs remained. Most of it was overtaken by mint, but there were a few chives that grew as well.

The mint was so thick though, that when we removed the ones growing around the chives all the chives just fell to the ground. Because of how crowded the herb garden was the chives weren’t able to gain any strength on their own either. You could have looked at our herb garden and seen a lot of life. It was green and healthy looking for the most part, but it wasn’t really a healthy situation either.

So a church that is so crowded with activities and maybe even focused on attracting one particular demographic of people may crowd out other parts of the church that are also healthy and growing. Having a lot of options doesn’t always mean health. Sometimes it can mean that the life is just being choked out of other avenues of the church’s ministry or that maybe certain people groups are feeling like they’re being chocked out.

I guess all this just makes me wonder that sometimes we fail to prune and weed out the structures of our churches. That our lack of health may be because we’re trying to cling to what is dead, or maybe trying to fill the church with programs and aspects to attract a certain demographic alone. I’m not always sure I know what needs pruned, but a willingness to honestly look at the structure of the church on a regular basis seems like it would be a helpful and even a healthy thing to do. That could just be me though, what do you think?

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