This month we held the first of what I hope to be many Town Hall style meetings. At them, we shared a snapshot of the church’s finances, talked about the potential sale of some of our property, and how I approach church ministry. One of the meetings used ZOOM, and we have a recording to share. You can find it at https://berwynumc.org/townhalls. I heard two things from the meetings that I will make a priority to work on moving forward.
The first piece of feedback I heard is that there is a lack of communication about what is going on at the church, the decisions made, and what it means for the broader ministry of the church, and a growing frustration among those who have volunteered to serve. The town halls are our first step toward greater transparency. My goal is to be as transparent as possible in all that we do and all decisions made so that you feel that you can trust what we are doing and our future.
The second piece of feedback I am making a priority is that there are people who want to serve to serve but need to figure out how. They are either on teams that do not meet, teams that do not have leaders, or teams that do not meet regularly, or they are unable to make an ongoing team commitment but are available to be called on for various tasks that need completing. I take this feedback seriously because I have a core belief about the Church that God has gifted everyone so that God can work through them to further His kingdom-building work. To put it more succinctly, if you are still breathing, then God can still use you. However, if the way we are doing church is getting in the way of God unleashing the people to use their gifts, then we need to do church better.
We discussed these two items at our last Leadership Team meeting, and I want to share the conversation results with
you. Moving forward, we are making the following changes in how we work to address these concerns
- The leadership Team is asking Charge Conference to approve combining the work of SPRT, Finance, and Trustees into the work of the Leadership Team. This change brings us closer to the model of leadership suggested by the simplified leadership program partially implemented this year. Finance and Trustees were intentionally kept separate, but in a review of our work over the last year, we still have a significant overlap of people between these meetings that have caused a duplication of work and reporting. The goal is not to consolidate decision-making but to increase the efficiency of regular work, so there is time for creative work.
- We understand how important it is for the leadership team not to get disconnected from the congregation. However, I am concerned that there is no separate nominating team naming people for considering the leadership team and helping me identify and plan leadership development. I am looking for 4-6 people who not only know the people in the congregation but are good at identifying the skills, talents, gifts, and spiritual health of others. The Nominations team's primary task is to find leaders who are growing in their faith and who bring their gifts and talents to help shape the church's future direction.
- To address the second concern, I want to create three ministry teams whose primary purpose is to create, plan, evaluate, and guide ministries in nurture, outreach, and witness. I am looking for a small group of people who have a passion for one of these three areas who want to guide the ministry teams that exist in the work they do and provide a place for them to ask for help and to dream of new ways of growing our ministry in each of the three areas.
- Finally, I want to create a property management team. The purpose of this team is to evaluate the needs of the building and property, prioritize those needs, and manage a list of tasks and maintenance items that team leaders can submit so that people who are not on a team can find places to help as they have time. More recently, this work has fallen exclusively on the board of trustees and often on the chair of trustees, but historically, that has not been the role of the trustees.
I do not believe the church can fix all of its problems through structural and policy changes. However, we can make incremental improvements in how we function so that we can enable creative ministry-transforming conversations to happen. When we equip and unleash everyone who has volunteered to serve in some way, we will see dramatic changes in our ministry's effectiveness.
While I am still learning about everyone and their gifts, I do not yet have a list of people in mind who would be perfect in each of these areas. Therefore, in addition to reaching out to the members of existing teams, I am relying on you to either help me identify people or let me know if you want to serve in any of the areas above.
Finally, please remember that our Leadership Team meetings, unless dealing with Staff issues, are open meetings, and anyone can attend. The usual schedule for those meetings is the 4th Thursday of the month. Any changes to that schedule are posted in the worship bulletin and on our website.
This post was orignally published in the November 2022 of the Lighted Cross. Please use the links below to view the full newsletter.