As we were singing last night at choir practice, I couldn't help but be reminded that when the church does things right and its people are right with God, it's like a foretaste of heaven. But there are also other times when the church is sick and the people are not right with God, the church is something else.
When churches are healthy fulfilling their mission with enthusiasm and zeal, the world is a better place. But when the church behaves like other dysfunctional families, it wreaks havoc. As partners in ministry, clergy spouses see a lot of both sides. We see and actually benefit from a healthy church. And most likely our spouse's health is better then too. But when there is bickering and in-fighting with people insisting on their own way, we are directly effected. And the stress for our spouse skyrockets.
So what to do? The church is people and even the people of God are still people--a mixture of good and bad, holiness and sin. And, of course, we are too. There are resources to help move your church toward health. (Healthy Congregations http://healthycongregations.com/ for example), but we need to band together and pray. We need to step back, take stock, and get things into perspective. How? Get a perspective from outside your church. Find a friend and go from there.
Each year at our Annual Conference, we have a spouse lunch. Perhaps you have one as well. It's easy to find out. Yes, it's in the middle of the work week, at least for us; but it is one place you can start looking for support. Believe me, you might be surprised to see that those spouses are pretty much like you. And if you don't need support, there'll be some who do.
Need more heaven and less of the other? It begins with us.