Organizing for Mission

We attended a workshop in our district today on “Organizing for Mission and Ministry.” The 6-hour event was led by Betsey Heavner and Carol Krau, staff persons at the UMC’s General Board of Discipleship.

The purpose of the event was to suggest ways that churches might structure themselves more effectively for mission. Churches, especially smaller churches which tend to be much more strapped, people-wise, often get overwhelmed trying to fill all the positions named in the Book of Discipline.

Biblical Reflection
The day began with an hour-long exercise of getting acquainted with each other and a time of biblical reflection. Using the Lectio Divina process (i.e. sacred reading), Carol read Luke 10.1-3, 10 three times during the course of the first hour. After each reading, she asked a question and then paused for several moments of silence, giving us the opportunity to reflect on what we had heard. The questions included …

  1. “What words, phrases, or images come to your mind as you listen to this passage?”
  2. “What might God be saying to you through this passage?”
  3. “What might God be saying to your congregation through this passage?”

After the first two readings/pauses for reflection, participants discussed, in pairs, what they had been reflecting on. After the third/final question, we had a group discussion.

I’d like to see our church councils incorporate a deeper time of biblical reflection at the beginning of our meetings. It’s important that we ground everything we do in God’s Word. In fact, one of the speakers shared that, in vital congregations, leaders lead their leadership teams to spend more time in Bible study and less time in administration.

Technical Leadership vs. Adaptive Leadership
The presenters talked about the difference between “technical leadership” and “adaptive leadership.” Those were helpful terms to me. It’s basically the difference between management and leadership. Technical leadership is certainly necessary, at times, but leaders need to be doing more adaptive leadership (i.e. structuring for mission and ministry).

Indicators of Vital Congregations
1. Strong sense of identity and purpose (Matthew 16 – Great Commitment)
2. Hospitality and Faith Sharing (John 3 – Great Redemption)
3. Worship and Spiritual Practices (Matthew 22 – Great Commandment)
4. Reconciliation and Justice (Micah 6 – Great Requirement)
5. Service and Mission (Matthew 28 – Great Commission)

Core Leadership Team
Again the purpose of the day’s event was to help churches, especially small churches, align themselves more effectively for mission. This included covering the basic leadership responsibilities of a United Methodist Church. According the Book of Discipline, UMCs are required to conduct a ministry that includes nurture, witness, outreach, leadership training, and planning/adminsitration. Churches have great flexibility in how they carry out these aspects of ministry.

The Book of Discipline has several required leadership positions but some of these are more administrative. Boiling the leadership team to a bare minimum, Carol and Betsey suggested the pastor, council chair, lay leader, and others (as necessary) could serve as the basic leadership team of a church.

We’re always looking for ways to be more effective at what we do for God. I believe what we learned today has potential to help our congregations be more organized for mission and ministry. I look forward to seeing the fruit of our efforts!

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