No one likes to be sick.  Well, okay–if the sickness isn’t too severe and you get to stay home from school or work and drink gingerale and nap in the afternoon—that’s okay to be sick.  But if you are really sick–feverish, nauseous, achy joints, severe discomfort, grumpy–well, no one likes to be that sick.    Sometimes churches get sick–really sick.

I got a call the other day from a concerned parishioner describing their church.  The more they talked the more I concluded “your church is sick”.  It wasn’t a mold or mildew problem.  The roof was fine.  Even the concrete foundation was still okay.  But the people, (and the church really is the people), were biting each other, and ignoring each other, and taking sides against each other.  And the pastor was caught in the crossfire.  Some were blaming him.  Others were siding with him.  People were leaving the church.  When I said to the caller “your church is sick” they stopped and said “really?”    “Yeah, really” I said.

Often we spend a lot of time studying sickness.  Where did it start? What particular form of virus is it?  Starve it?  or feed it?  Surgery or antiobiotics?  Maybe quarantine some people?  I think we’d be better to spend time realizing what “wellness” is, then make a concerted effort to work towards it.     Well people are lovers.  Well people have struggles but don’t complain about them if complaining is all they are planning to do.  Well people do something about their struggles.  Well people are honest–with themselves, and with others.  Well people focus beyond themselves and see their wellness in helping those less fortunate.  Well people are givers.  But well people are also receivers.  They listen and observe and then they make adjustments to their path based on what they are seeing and hearing.  Well people keep the big picture in front of them and don’t allow the little things to bog them down.

So, how does that apply to churches?   We can spend a lot of time in the illness, and you need to do some diagnostic work.  But you know, I think we need to clarify what wellness is– then commit ourselves to going there over the next season.

I hurt my shoulder a few months back.  Badly.  It was pain-full.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was getting grumpier by the week.  My wife suggested I wasn’t as nice a person as I usually was.  I explained to her that she needed to be nice to me because I was in such pain.  She didn’t listen to me.  She avoided me.  (Smart lady).  Finally, I went to the doctor who turned me to a physiotherapist.  I’ve been seeing him for a few weeks diligently doing the exercises designed to restore mobility to my frozen shoulder.  And it’s working.  I am moving toward wellness.

I am still not “well”, but I am getting better as I pursue wellness.  If I were a church, I think I’d pursue wellness.