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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

Paul & Silas Were Pot-Stirrers!

I’ve said before, Leaders are Pot-Stirrers. I’ve also listed 3 Ways Leaders Stir the Pot. First-century church leaders were clearly pot-stirrers. In Acts 16-17, there’s a story that describes how Paul and Silas were pot-stirrers. “These people are causing an uproar in our city” (Acts 16.20, CEB) … “These people who have been disturbing the… Continue Reading

Equipping Vital Congregations

At the 2015 Annual Conference of the Susquehanna Conference, I had the honor of being part of a team presentation on Equipping Vital Congregations. The presentation was facilitated by Janet Durrwachter (First UMC, Williamsport). Other team members included Jaime Carpenter (Christ UMC, Selinsgrove) and Rev. Rich Morris (Hicks Memorial UMC, Duncansville). Jaime talked about “Passionate… Continue Reading

Favorite Quotes From the Global Leadership Summit

Our favorite leadership development event is the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit. This year’s Summit was the 20th event, and our fourth in a row (see my posts on the 2011 and 2013 Summits). Here are some of my favorite quotes/thoughts from this year’s Summit … Bill Hybels Hybels is the leader who challenges… Continue Reading