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The Role of Tribal Leaders in the Church

The Role of Tribal Leaders in the Church

In 2012, Centre Grove UMC’s church council read Winning on Purpose: How To Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission by John Edmund Kaiser. At the time, we were transitioning from a traditional United Methodist multi-committee structure to an alternative single-committee structure.

In the book, Kaiser shares Paul Borden’s somewhat humorous metaphor of the board, or council, as a group of tribal leaders …

Paul Borden, author of Hit the Bullseye, compares the board to a group of tribal leaders in the rain forest. The chief of the tribe climbs the tallest tree in order to direct the establishment of the village in a new location. From this high vantage point, the chief can see the big picture and call out where to build the huts, where to plant the crops, where to post lookouts, etc. At the base of the tree stands a circle of tribal elders with long pointed spears. If the chief tries to climb down and deny the village the benefit of the chief’s guidance, they point their spears upward to send the chief back to the high vantage point. If any tribespeople leave their work and try to pull the chief down, the elders turn their spears outward and send them back to their duties. That’s a picture of no-nonsense accountability and support. (113)

Years later, this description has stuck with us!

This is how healthy councils (or Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committees) view their role and their working relationship with their pastors. Council (or SPRC) members hold the pastor accountable by encouraging them to focus on their primary leadership role. Kaiser describes the pastor’s leadership role in three key arenas: inspiring council, directing staff (paid and unpaid ministry leaders), and teaching the congregation. Healthy committees also support and protect the pastor when others attempt to pull her or him down.

This metaphor still comes up from time to time at Centre Grove. I’m grateful for all those, past and present, who carry spears (metaphorically speaking!) on behalf of the ministry at Centre Grove!

Short-Term Sabbatical

Short-Term Sabbatical

United Methodist pastors are encouraged to take sabbaticals on a regular basis. Our conference allows for one-month sabbaticals once every four years (longer sabbaticals are available, a little less frequently). This will be our first sabbatical since beginning ministry in the UMC in 1998. The appropriate committees from both Centre Grove UMC and West Side… Continue Reading

A Prayer for the 2016 General Conference of the UMC

The 2016 General Conference of the United Methodist Church takes place May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. General Conference, which takes place every four years, is the top policy-making body in the UMC and is the only church entity that has authority to speak for the entire denomination. General Conference meets every four years to… Continue Reading

“Simplify”

Bill Hybels’ book, Simplify, offers “ten practices to unclutter your soul,” in the following titles … From exhausted to energized From overscheduled to organized From overwhelmed to in control From restless to fulfilled From wounded to whole From anxious to peaceful From isolated to connected From drifting to focused From stuck to moving on From… Continue Reading

Who Do We Promote?

I’m impressed with the attitude and non-self-promotional behavior of Jesus in his ministry! I was especially struck by Jesus’ attitude as I started reading through Mark’s gospel again recently. Mark begins by telling how Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist; he didn’t even introduce himself! In the opening chapters of Mark’s gospel, Jesus “sternly”… Continue Reading

“Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, & Bad Attitudes …”

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes … in You and Your Kids is the best book on parenting I’ve ever read! The authors, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, propose an honor-based approach to parenting (which is actually applicable to other areas of life, as well)! In families, it’s easy to focus on behavior,… Continue Reading