People have many different views of what a religious congregation should be and of what can be expected from church members. Some feel that the spiritual aspects of a faith community override all other considerations, while others wish to see a more service-oriented type of worship-in-action.
Some congregation members desire only to participate in religious services and prefer to give their volunteer time out in the community at large. Others seek the fellowship of the congregation and want to become involved in church-sponsored activities.
Faith communities in North America and in many other parts of the world are actually voluntary associations made up of volunteers. Except for the clergy and some specialized staff who are paid a salary, congregation members who do the work of the church do so by choice, without monetary pay. The techniques of coordinating volunteers that have been tested and proven in other settings also work in faith communities.
Unfortunately, there is still resistance by some to anything that uses the vocabulary of “management” in relation to a religious institution. This is based on a belief that attention to process and structure interferes with true spirituality and worship. There is also concern that “business-like” organizing demands more from congregation members than should be expected from volunteers. The Church Puzzle Game is based on the perspective that acting from the heart is best supported by thoughtful organization.
As Game leader, you must be prepared for your participants to have many of these conflicting feelings. The important thing is to permit such ideas to surface and be discussed.
One good way to introduce the need to play The Church Puzzle Game is to ask the group of players the following question:
If you were asked to describe our church, would any of the following observations occur to you?
- We are expanding our program activities but are finding it increasingly hard to enlist the help of congregation members to do the necessary work.
- A few people are overworked.
- Too many others hardly do anything.
- A core group of people is always on the “inside” of decision-making and these insiders are therefore perceived by others as a “clique.”
- There are poorly-defined, “gray areas” of responsibility.
- There is duplication of effort.
- Some tasks
- never seem to get done.
- Key leadership positions are hard to fill.
- It is difficult to get new congregation members actively involved.
- Good ideas surface but are not implemented.
- There is stereotyping by sex and age of who can do certain jobs.