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Difficult To Measure (via Darryl Dash)

A thoughtful answer to a difficult to respond to question.
Darryl Dash frames a response to the enquiry “How’s ministry going?”
“It’s hard. It’s joyous. It’s difficult to measure.”

My generic answer to that question or variations of it is “Along.”

Dash concludes:

In the end, I don’t know how my ministry is going. Only God does. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself,” Paul writes. “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).

source


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No Points For Busy (via Seth Godin)

I’m always uncomfortable when people tell me I’m busy.
(They’re always making that observation in an encouraging and sympathetic way, not as a complaint, btw)
From Seth Godin:

There’s a common safe place: Being busy.
We’re supposed to give you a pass because you were full on, all day. Frantically moving from one thing to the other, never pausing to catch your breath, and now you’re exhausted.
No points for busy.
Points for successful prioritization. Points for efficiency and productivity. Points for doing work that matters.
No points for busy.

Source


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Seeking Genuine Accountability (via Ed Stetzer)

In a post about leadership Ed Stetzer identifies a number of areas that he describes as mature leadership.
On of these has to do with accountability.

Mature leaders purposefully set up structures for accountability and then seek and receive genuine accountability within those structures. They understand that it is easy to be drawn into inappropriate use of that power and will engage in honest and transparent accountability. Every person with power and influence needs to submit to an accountability structure and seek accountability somewhere in some way.
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Now, the challenge is that for accountability to be genuine it has to represent an authority which the leader submits to.
In pastoral ministry leaders can be seen to participate in an accountability structure, but it is one they have invited, and one whose parameters they have established.
Friends, it’s too easy to give the appearance of genuine accountability (and get recognition for being accountable) but to have only given account for that which you want to give account and be recognised for.
Maturity in leadership invites accountability, but cedes authority over the accountability structure.


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The Vanilla Slice As A Metaphor For Organisational Culture (via Rhonda Brighton-Hall at MWAH)

Thanks to Byron at the Snot Blog for pointing out this crisp yet creamy comparison between effective organisational culture and vanilla slice.
From the article:

Vanilla Slices, and our quest to find, describe, and prescribe the perfect one, is not dissimilar to our passion for good organisational culture.
You may think that’s a stretch, but let me explain.
The Connection
Vanilla Slices are so simple and clear.
A layer of foundational pastry, a much bigger layer of delicious custard, another layer of pastry to hold shape, and then a slither of icing.
And what is culture?
Foundational standards – emotion and relationships – a top layer of boundaries to hold it all in shape, and a slither of PR.

Read the post at MWAH.


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An Unhelpful Dualism In Church Governance (via Dan Hotchkiss)

I grew up with a church system that had two bodies, one tasked with spiritual and the other tasked with temporal matters.
It is not a helpful distinction in so far as everything is spiritual and practical. At its worst the ‘temporal’ body can use its power to veto the plans of the ‘spiritual’ body, effectively putting themselves in charge. At its best the ‘spiritual’ body works with the ‘temporal’ body in developing plans and the ‘temporal’ body sees its role as enabling the decisions of the ‘spiritual’ body, not as determining whether they should happen.
Our system allows for members of the ‘spiritual’ body to be automatic members of the ‘temporal’ body, which generally means they could get their way if they wanted, but, from a governance perspective, the notion that control of what happens rests with the ‘temporal’ body creates an unproductive dynamic that is resistant to change and protects the status-quo.
From Dan Hotchkiss:

Some congregations have two, or even three, top boards, all responsible directly to the congregation. Sometimes the division reflects an old-fashioned mom-and-pop dualism: The board of trustees (pop) controls the money, while a program board (mom) does most Of the work. Sometimes one board is said to be responsible for the “business” aspect of the congregation, while the other takes charge of the “spiritual” part. Have I made it clear yet that I don’t like this way of splitting up the universe? Whoever controls “business” ends up having ultimate control of spiritual matters also.

Dan Hotchkiss, Governance And Ministry, Rowland & Littlefield, 2016, pg 44.


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Group-Centered Leadership (via Dan Hotchkiss)

Dan Hotchkiss observes that churches of a certain size tend toward staff-centered leadership structures. The first advantage of that structure is that they usually depend on one leader, and any disruption to that leader can have an inordinately disruptive effect on the organisation.
He then points out a second, more philosophical disadvantage that resonates with my understanding of how a local church should function.

A second disadvantage of staff-centered structures is a disadvantage only if you believe, as I do, that committed groups are capable of making better decisions than individuals can. I don’t always enjoy group decision-making, but I have found again and again that a community willing to be patient with people’s differences and indecision will correct and improve the insights of even the most gifted individuals. If you agree with me that wide participation adds an essential element to a congregation’s search for truth, then a strictly staff—centered congregation seems wrong. Even if the staff-centered model were always more effective at producing practical results, it would leave me dissatisfied because it does not make use of every member’s gifts for discerning the congregation’s mission. This concern, at bottom, is theological: I think each of us comes with a built-in antenna tuned to the fight frequency to hear the promptings of the Spirit, and congregations ought to take advantage of it. I also believe what people call the “politics” of congregations has a good side because a group in conversation can perceive more about what is good and right than the sum of what its members can perceive alone. For these reasons, I choose congregational participation with its messiness, even though I sometimes envy the efficiency of the staff-centered way.

Dan Hotchkiss, Governance And Ministry, Rowland & Littlefield, 2016, pg 42.


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Wisdom In The Timing And Implementation Of Change In An Established Church (via Ron Edmondson)

In a church plant (and, in a more limited way in a revitalisation) the leader has a considerable degree of discretion and control about how things are done.
With an established church, particularly those of smaller to medium size, people have a sense of ownership and partnership that means the introduction of change needs to be processed with wisdom and patience.

In concluding a post on the subject, Ron Edmondson says:

Be strategic in the implementation.

Take your time. Establish trust. Build consensus. Talk to the right people. Even compromise on minor details if necessary. Accommodate special requests if possible and if it doesn’t affect the outcome. Be political if needed.
It’s part of the process, especially in a highly structured environment. (Does that describe any churches you know?)
Structured environments shouldn’t keep you from making the right decisions involving change. They just alter the implementation process.
Knowing this difference provides freedom to visionary pastors and leaders in highly structured environments. You can make the change. You can. You’ll just have to be smarter about how and when you make them.

The only thing I’d add is don’t simply bank up trust and never get around to spending it on needed change.
Sometimes that time of patience can become the status quo that you never emerge from.

Read the whole post at Ron Edmondson.