Midwifery is a health care profession in which providers offer care to childbearing women during pregnancy, labour and birth, and during the postpartum period. They also help care for the newborn and assist the mother with breastfeeding.
This post is meant to be in conversation with the many people who write about the changing church. Two in particular I will mention: Carol Howard Merritt's recent post "Ensuing Eagerness" and Jan Edmiston's post, "What Will Happen to all the Little Churches?"
I'm in a lot of conversations about where the church is headed - what will the future look like - what is happening to the role of clergy - what does it mean to be a spiritual guide in our culture today?
Church communities, small and large, are making difficult decisions about their life and vitality. Churches are facing financial realities, We feel the stress of aging, sometimes empty buildings. We have gone into a grieving period with all its stages - denial, anger, depression, bargaining and even acceptance.
But what if we're not experience loss or death - what if the pain we feel is birth pangs? What if the spiritual guides of our world (aka pastors) took the mantel of midwife? What if the role of the pastor is to offer care to pregnant communities? What if we are being called to assist in labor and birth of new ministry, new outreach, new life? And what if we also were to remain a constant support during the postpartum period? What if the role pastor today required the ability to care for new life while also assisting the birthing congregation?
Pastor as midwife. What do you think?
What is our public witness? That was the question that began the conversation. Actually that's not true... the question that began the conversation was, "how are we going to capture the $14,000 rent we just lost from the Hindu dance school that was renting our building but now has outgrown our space?" But truly, the conversation turned quickly. Actually that's not true either... I turned the conversation.
The conversation doesn't just turn. People turn conversations. And the conversations in church often don't turn anywhere but in circles. Or at least that's what I hear in the hallways of my denomination. It doesn't have to be that way. Leaders can turn conversations. Leaders can build coalitions. Leaders can listen between the lines and tease out the direction that the Spirit is leading.
Here's a presentation that we created to explain why we wanted to create an additional public witness for our church.