BUILDING A LEGACY: Learning, Discerning, and Leaning In | Part 7: Palliative Care

BUILDING A LEGACY: Learning, Discerning, and Leaning In | Part 7: Palliative Care

My former colleague and current friend, Susan Townley, sent me this admirably concise blog - Take a moment to read it and come right back here.
The metaphor clearly works for churches struggling with spiritual vitality and financial viability.  Do these churches torture themselves until they run out of money?  Yes, all too often.  Do they hope for the best and wait far too long before embracing the next step in their journey?  Yes, all too often.  Would these churches come out ahead if they focused on a productive and comfortable way to wrap things up, instead of fighting to the last moment?  Yes, almost always.
Friend Susan adds that sometimes fighting to the last moment means we are not enjoying the life we have left.  For a church completing its ministry, this may keep us from more fully honoring loved ones, connecting more meaningfully to our purpose and mission, and living out God’s call more intentionally.
Seth’s Blog addresses people seeking cures for life-threatening illnesses.  Cures are not always available.  Sometimes incurable illnesses can be managed, at least for a time.  People live with uncertainty about their illnesses and treatment options, but we know that there is no cure that leads to immortality.
Churches are not people, so the metaphor breaks down.  There are no 300 year old people, but there are 300 year old churches in our country, and much older churches in other parts of the world.  Churches don’t live with the same sense of inevitable death; the same sense that there is an upper limit on survival.  This leads some people to view the end of a church’s ministry as a failure, even though we would rarely, if ever, say that a person’s death was a failure.
What if a struggling church asked itself if they were mature enough to choose palliative care?  Mature, here, has two meanings: Mature in the sense that growth is no longer feasible and mature in the sense being able to make wise decisions.  The answer may be no, especially if there are paths to renewal to pursue.  And if the answer is yes, a church can turn to seeking comfort, solace, and relief. Where will churches find this? By focusing on building a legacy, completing the ministry faithfully and well, and dreaming of resurrection.


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Charlie Kuchenbrod

Charlie is Legacy Church Specialist for the Southern New England Conference.

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