Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Emotional Vitality for the Long Haul!

Reading time: two minutes. There’s an atmosphere at your church.  I pray all the time that your church would have that light-hearted, joyous atmosphere that reflects the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. I know that all too often, bad weather creeps in to congregational life.  A church with a tumultuous atmosphere hinders the mission and ministry of God’s people.  Attendance drifts downward.  Decisions become burdensome.  Outreach is stifled. And church leaders, especially professional church workers, suffer. A good atmosphere in our places of ministry helps to ensure longevity of service both in the places where we are currently called, and in long, joyful, healthy careers in ministry.  So how do we keep a Spirit-filled, joyous atmosphere in the church? We use the only tool the Lord gave us, the gospel of love and forgiveness. When pastors and their wives from troubled congregations join us on retreat, it often takes a number of days for their own internal moods to change.  The stress of conflicted relationships can hover around like a storm cloud.  Sometimes the bad mood has become a part of their spirit that only the love and grace found on a Christian retreat can break through. Tragically, and this was my own experience, leaving the retreat and re-entering the congregation often means re-entering the anxiety.  An intervention is needed, and the only force strong enough to change the mood in a church is the gospel. Usually, the need for confession and forgiveness is mutual.  I love where the Order of Compline (LSB 254) calls first on the worship leader to confess his sins before the assembled body of Christ and receive their absolution, followed by the church’s own confession and the pastor’s absolution.  The practice of mutual confession and forgiveness reminds us that we are all in need of grace and it teaches us to release the bad mood that’s built up into the hands of our Savior, Jesus. Ephesians 4 talks of relationships bathed in baptismal grace and ends with the admonition, “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  When we forgive, the devil’s foothold is broken.  When Jesus bears away the accumulated baggage of small hurts and jealousies and gossip that build up in the Church, Satan runs, the Spirit breathes a fresh new atmosphere of peace, and relationships are restored. Long tenures in service are good for our churches.  Long careers in ministry allow for servants of the Lord with greater wisdom to bless the church.  Good atmosphere leads to longevity in ministry. May you and those you serve know the peace of grace offered to one another in love. Thanks for reading. Are you interested in helping bring a Grace Place Wellness Retreat to your region?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact our President/CEO Randy Fauser today to begin exploring the possibilities.  Let’s have a conversation about bringing our Church Worker Retreat to your area soon!