5 Important Shifts Start with 1
At Tuesday evening’s Session and Staff Meeting, we reviewed a document written by ECO’s Synod Executive, Rev. Dr. Dana Allin, entitled Five Important Shifts for Our Future Development.
The first shift is “From ‘Clergy-Centered’ to an ‘Unleashed Laity.’”
One of the things I loved about being part of the team that created the ECO polity is I know how many ways we sought to create an environment that hands more ministry over to the congregation. This includes simple nomenclature changes, like moving from “member” to “covenant partner.” It also includes a radical shift in the Presbyterian world of authorizing officers to more easily celebrate the sacraments. But even though the ECO polity helps set an expectation for unleashing the laity to do ministry, it’s vital each congregation ensure their internal culture doesn’t rebel against it.
I hope you have noticed some “unleashing” that has occurred at Good Shepherd already. Perhaps our six-week series I Am A Covenant Partner, where we explored “the attitude that makes a difference.” Maybe you recall Jim Megorden, our Elder of Children and Family Ministries, baptizing his own grandson.
But, one of the most significant “unleashing” projects underway is not as noticeable. Through 2017, we are shifting our team meeting schedules (that currently meet at different times throughout the month) to meeting on the same night every month. It is my hope - and plan! - that this transition will be complete by January 2018.
To be sure, there are challenges to this type of laity unleashing. There are competing values at work! For instance, most (if not all) of our ministry teams have members who serve on more than one team. Meeting on the same night requires those members to choose which team meeting they’ll attend. In addition, this schedule precludes pastor and staff ability to attend the meeting of every team that they work with.
But remember the title of this first important shift: “From Clergy-Centered to Unleashed Laity”! The future of ECO and the future of Good Shepherd is not only dependent upon the leadership of pastors and staff. It is also dependent upon our elders, deacons, and team members, as we Invite all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God’s family. So it is incumbent upon pastors and staff to not only attend team meetings but to “equip the saints for ministry” outside of the monthly meeting!
This new monthly schedule will further allow all members of all ministry teams to interact, at a minimum, every month! This is an incredible opportunity for what one author calls “vision dripping.” He explains,
Anyone can cast vision once a year at an annual congregational meeting. But, what’s more important is constant vision dripping.
That is, regularly returning to what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it, and when we’re successful.
As we discussed at the annual congregational meeting, these four questions have guided a two-year visioning process:
What are we doing? We are inviting all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God’s family.
Why are we doing it? To live out our values of authentic evangelism, biblical discipleship, and inter-generational family.
How are we doing it? By planting the gospel, deepening our faith in worship, allowing that faith to flourish in communal study and care, and nurturing others on their spiritual journey.
When are we successful? In short, when they know us by our fruit! When we welcome warmly, share openly, worship joyfully, think biblically, care deeply, pray earnestly, serve willingly, and give generously.
As we transition to this new monthly leadership night schedule, would you join me in praying earnestly that we would “unleash the laity”? That we would be increasingly united in ministry and in mission? And would you also pray that, if you are not already serving on one of these teams, that you would be called into willing service for the mission of God through Good Shepherd?
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