The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein has written an essay on her blog, PeaceBang, entitled Napping on the Floor of the Aerobics Studio, about encouraging and empowering leaders.
Church members, friends, newcomers and leaders should be nurtured in spiritual practice and equipped with the language of our faith traditions so that they can articulate the gifts they both give and receive from their experience with the church, the community that is gathered by God (or by the deepest yearnings of the human heart, if you’re a humanist).
The congregation should be in the regular practice of spending time discussing their spiritual experience. It should be as natural as a potluck. We should be ready to turn conversations away from petty gossip to deeper reflections. Leaders should be able to challenge people who constantly want to talk about the minister to talk about their own ministry, or about the church’s ministry.
And those leaders should be empowered to motivate the “nappers,” she adds.
If I go to the gym and people are sprawled out napping on the floor of the aerobics studio, I will think the gym management is not just remiss, but nuts. It’s no different in church. We’re all there for heart strengthening of a different kind. Leaders should be empowered to be able to say: ‘Get off the aerobics floor, please. You can nap at home. Napping on the floor of the aerobics studio is not part of our mission, so we won’t be addressing your complaints about the pillows.’
She adds, “This isn’t about not loving people. It’s about being clear what church is for.”
She writes that congregations should have a broader mission than simply “to collect the religiously wounded and enable them to stay that way. We must say, ‘We are all welcome here. There is a hospital wing here. But no one takes up permanent residence in that wing. They get better and leave the bed open for the next person.’”