Friday, August 01, 2008

Notes from Orlando, Day Two

Greetings from steamy Orlando -- day two of the School of Congregational Development.

The day began with Mark Beeson, senior pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana, whose talk was called "Innovate or Die." His presentation was very inspiring. A few nuggets:
  • Most of the people in our churches are underchallenged. Our churches are full of what Beeson calls "high capacity" people, and we ask them to do things like hand out bulletins, when they are capable of so much more.
  • If you can do your ministry by yourself, your vision is too small.
  • The most dangerous person on your team is not the person going backward while everyone else is moving forward, and not the person going completely in a different direction -- everyone knows they're completely off. The most dangerous person is the one who's just a little bit off, who claims to be on the same page when you confront him/her. This person will wear you out, Beeson says. You need to deal with it.

I'm a little confused about Granger Community Church, though. Apparently they're a United Methodist congregation -- at least that's how they were presented today -- but I get conflicting information when I do a Google search. Their own website says "nondenominational." What's the deal?

I went to two excellent seminars: "Creating a Discipleship System," with Claudia Lavy (formerly of Ginghamsburg Church, now part of the consulting team Deepening Your Effectiveness); and "Leadership in the Wesleyan Spirit" with Lovett Weems of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. Both were very helpful.

A few nuggets from Lavy:

  • The church is called to the ministry of life transformation. We get so caught up in the day-to-day stuff of the church that we forget our calling: life transformation.
  • Lavy's workshop included a quick run through some excellent stuff about the stages through which people develop a deeper and deeper trusting relationship with God. I recommend the book Deepening Your Effectiveness: Restructuing the Local Church for Life Transformation by Dan Glover and Claudia Lavy, which provides an in-depth look at these steps and how they ought to impact the ministry we develop.
  • Particularly helpful: at stage 3, the new or rededicated believer is asking the question "How can I help?" Be careful! When we take energetic new believers and invite them to serve before they are spiritually developed, we push them on a road to burnout and cynicism. The real question they're asking is "How can I fit in?" So how can we invite them to deeper spiritual development? The question for us: Do we want actively serving believers or spiritually developed servants? Lavy says our churches are full of actively serving believers, but they're drying up on the vines because we're not providing the spiritual nourishment they need to become spiritually developed servants.

A few nuggets from Weems:

  • In 1784, Methodists were called "the most insignificant religious body." Eighty years later, in 1864, Methodists were the largest denomination, and 50% larger than the next largest denomination. How did that happen?
  • We should develop "so that" statements for everything we're doing -- i.e. "We offer Vacation Bible School so that..." Everything should be organized to accomplish the mission.
  • Thousands of churches across the country have said, "We love our traditions more than our children." We refuse to change, even if it means we are failing to pass on the life transforming message of God's love to the next generation.
  • In the early days of a church, that church will be very responsive to the needs around them, but gradually that changes. Instead of looking upon the world as our parish, we begin to look upon the parish as our world.
  • "Leadership is helping God's people take the next faithful step." -- Scott Cormode
  • An alarming statistic: from 1980-1990, there was an increase from 1.8 million to 4.3 million people who claim prison as their primary residence. From 1990-2000, that number saw another 70% increase.
  • A district superintendent is not the steward of the United Methodist Churches in his or her district -- pastors do that. A district superintendent is, rather, the steward of the United Methodist witness within that geographical territory. This is an important distinction.
  • The primary question a district superintendent should be asking: How do I improve the quality of pastoral leadership for the pastors in my district?


Melissa said...

Make sure Mike and Jan get that last bullet point... ;-)

Kidding. I'm so jealous of y'all down there learning so much!

Allen Ewing-Merrill said...

Well, Mike and Jan weren't there to hear it, but I did take good notes and when I was talking with Mike on the sidewalk outside, I made sure to share it.

But the good thing is, I'm pretty sure they both get it already. If only ALL DS's had this kind of understanding...