NACOS 1.2 Understanding congregational loss.
Topic #1: Recognizing patterns of grief in congregations and cultures after a tragedy.
Grief is defined as an adaptation to unwanted change.
QUOTE: Congregations also have losses because congregations function like extended families. Congregations experience changes which are undesirable. Here are some examples of change grief and loss experienced by congregations that I have known:
The beloved, hundred year-old sanctuary is condemned and must be torn down.
It could be a tornado or hurricane, or the church building might burn down.
A trusted congregational leader is discovered to be a child molester of his now adult daughters when they were adolescents.
A controlling pastor stirs up anxiety and 1/3 of attending families leave. 14 years later it happens again with another controlling pastor.
A church staff member may go through a divorce.
A new, young pastor discovers widespread sexual misconduct of a pastor who retired sixteen years previously among more than a dozen young wives of the congregation. Many of the current day, strong female leaders of the congregation speak of that pastor’s tenure as “the best years of their lives and the golden age of the church.”
A major employer may relocate, resulting in widespread poverty. A union may go on strike.
A beloved Church lay leader may suddenly die.
A coronavirus pandemic might happen.
… There are commonalities in how churches cope with a crisis, even though the crises may be different.
How do we provide Pastoral Care to congregations, and groups within congregations, coping with tragedy and crisis? Unless it is a very small church, we can’t do individual therapy with every person.
Make a long private list of losses from your congregation’s history and other congregations you have known.
ASSIGNMENT QUESTION: (in the comments on Facebook)
From your list of losses, choose one or two which you feel safe sharing with our class in a comment.