Friday, February 10, 2012

Values Clarification

There was an old game called Values Clarification, sometimes called Lifeboat. Christian artist Steve Taylor even wrote a song about it.

When a church already has a Mission statement and a Vision statement, it might be time to work with the congregation on Values Clarification. What are we to be about going forward from here. While the initial framework for the local church does feel an awful lot like the game Lifeboat - "Who are we going to continue to let live and who are we going to throw into the water", there is a deeper sense when a church does this that perhaps all can be saved, and that with the right focus all can be saved and that a "new thing" can happen in the life of the church.

Values Clarification provides a platform to evaluate the programs of the church, and the desires of the people, especially as those things relate to the community at large and the will of God.

As such I hope to work with St. Andrew UMC to develop our core values, and create a deeper sense of commitment and connection with what we are about at Christ's church today.

I have to admit that I always start with the people. I start with who they think they are, and what they want to be. I follow that with God and the larger community where the people are, and the wants and desires of God and the larger community. From this triumverate we can develop actual action plans that might have some deeper hold, as well as a better idea of what resources are already in place, and what attitudes will have to change for things to be effective.

It is, in essence, holding a mirror to the people, and allowing them to decide how they will act out their beliefs, with ownership and conviction.

At the end of the day, we must return to God's will, holding at least some of these values in place for the focus and force of our ministry in our location, even if we add more, or limit ourselves to only 1 or 2 of these values.

  • Do good to those that harm you.
  • Turn the other cheek.
  • Walk an extra mile.
  • Blessed are the poor.
  • Feed the hungry.
  • Labels:

    Monday, February 06, 2012

    Challenging the Pastor

    For most pastors, the role is understood in many ways, but some of them include poking, prodding, coaxing and challenging the congregation to the "Next Step" of faith.

    I know every pastor has their own idea of what that "Next Step" looks like. Some come into every congregation with the same "Next Step" and they spend their entire career getting the congregation to live out that next step.

    We wheedle, cajole and bargain with the members of the congregation.

    All the while, the congregation holds out expectations of the pastor. The pastor should look this way, believe this, do these things. And no small amount of backhanded compliments, wheedling, challenging and goals are laid out for the pastor to develop into the pastor the congregation wants.

    But, the very real question comes out about who is responsible to challenge the pastor, and help with that accountability, as well as help the pastor grow in faith.

    After all, the goal of the church is to help people grow in faith, by developing deeper understanding of the scriptures, in word and deed.

    The pastor too is part of the church, and is called to lead the church, but that doesn't mean the pastor shouldn't be questioned or challenged. There are a number of ways to do that, but I have to admit I am the greatest fan of the person who takes the time to check out the claims of the pastoral leadership of any church, in the law, doctrine, and scripture.

    Take the time to talk with the pastor. Be willing to engage, but be aware there are more than a few pastors (myself included at times) whose greatest desire is to be in charge, and taken at "my word", because I have done the work to get the answers - don't you believe me? And I tell you, that when your pastor answers that way, you can answer "of course I believe you", and because I believe you I went to find out more about it for myself. When I did so, I came back with these questions, or ways of understanding."

    And when your pastor is mentally healthy that pastor can have a conversation with you. When unhealthy, questions are cut out and you might be too. When that happens, allow your pastor a chance to cool down, try again, but find another "pastor" in your life, who may not be clergy at all. Because, pastors and congregation members are not the only ones who can check each other. Pastors have to check pastors, and congregation members need to check congregation members, as well as the pastor-congregation dynamic.