Reality versus Proverbs
Proverbs 29:18a (KJV) - Where there is no vision, the people perish.
In the traditional Baptist world, the power of the church rests in the laity. They have the power to call any pastor they please to serve them. The pastor is charged to lead the congregation on the journey that is our faith. He is there to teach and preach the Bible and how it applies to our lives and faith - he is there to exhibit the love and compassion of Christ for us in the good times and the bad - he is there to point those who do not believe to Christ - he is there to disciple Christians and help to grow them in their faith, etc...
In short, our pastors should be called to provide each church with a vision to which to aspire. Jesus is perfect and lived out the life that we are called to live. No, we're not going to ever be perfect, but we're not expected to be. We're expected to strive toward perfection - to work towards it, with Jesus there when we stumble.
To have a pastor simply "maintain" a church isn't Christ-like. To show up each Sunday and Wednesday and go through the motions doesn't cut it. Church members need someone to dream where the church can go and execute and lead a plan towards a vision. Visitors need to come in and be able to say "this church is on a mission - they're attempting to go somewhere... I want to help." If the church doesn't get there, that's okay. Sometimes the journey is just as or even more rewarding than the goal. When that happens, the church, under the pastor's leadership, can re-evaluate their vision and provide a new plan. Striving toward a vision is an ever-changing process.
But to have a pastor, from the pulpit, exclaim that we must accept reality and declaring that dreaming of what a church ought to be as foolish is 100% completely unacceptable. Unacceptable! Actively making excuses for apathy and endorsing shiftlessness is the complete opposite of what a pastor is called to do.
To look around in the surrounding community at the growing churches, the new churches, the new subdivisions and new schools and to excuse and write off declining membership is unbelievable. The joke that 'some people forget we meet every Sunday' is no longer funny. What are we going to do about that problem? What are we going to do about the folks who only show up at quarterly business meetings, or don't go to Sunday School, or don't bring their kids because they didn't want to get them out of bed?
In Christian love we are called to hold each other accountable and work together carrying the cross. If church is just a safe haven, which it should be, but nothing else, then we may as well close up and sell the building to the YMCA. Else we're just wasting everyone's time and money.
Unfortunately, compounding this issue is when the congregation doesn't know anything different. They've been told it's okay to be part-time members, and that approval has been made known for long enough that the culture of the church can be described by several choice words: apathetic, sloth-like, indifferent. The very few that are active are getting burned out and are stepping back, while others are considering leaving. Yet, as with everything else, those facts are swept under the rug as the church moves week to week, Sunday to Wednesday and back to Sunday again.
At what point do you make a recommendation at a business meeting to close up and sell the building?