Spending Time on the Balcony and the Dance Floor

As a leader there is value in spending time both:

  • On the balcony – getting a big picture perspective removed from day to day responsibilities and
  • On the dance floor – accomplishing day to day tasks to make progress as an organization.

Spending time in either location can be productive, however you cannot spend your time in one place or another.

As I have entered into a new leadership setting – as pastor of First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS – I have found that it has been particular important to make sure that I spend some time on the balcony. The day to day responsibilities of transitioning into a new role can overwhelm the time needed to take a breath and reflect on the big picture of life and ministry. As I prepare to begin my fourth month in this appointment, I have been making progress on spending time in both places.

Back to Blogging

I have started my third month serving as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, Kansas. It has been fantastically busy, fun, exciting and full of opportunities and challenges to have a baby, move to a new home and start serving as the lead pastor at a new congregation in the past three months.

While I am still continue to make the transition to our new home, it is time for me to start blogging again. I know, it has been months. However, I plan to begin with  a few posts a week and see how it goes. While I have a lot of ideas about what to write about on this blog, I want to write what would be most interesting, helpful or intriguing to you. So, what will it be?

What would you like for me to write about on this blog? What would be interesting to you? What would you want to share with others? I am looking forward to beginning this blogging adventure with you again.

Transition Preparation Document for First UMC El Dorado

One month from today, I will begin serving as pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the key leaders and staff from the church. I shared a document with everyone that I met outlined some of my personal priorities as well as top five objectives for the first six months and a few of the questions that I will be asking as I arrive. Here is what I shared:

Personal Priorities and Dates

  • June 12 – Expecting the birth of our second child
  • June 25 – Move into parsonage
  • Care for self and family

Top Five – First Six Months

  • Be a good guest and allow the congregation to host
  • Love the people
  • Learn the history and culture of the congregation
  • Learn the history and culture of the community
  • Help discern an appropriate vision

Questions – First Six Months

  • Who are you as a congregation?
  • How did the congregation get to where it is today?
  • Where do challenges and opportunities exist?
  • What has changed the most / least since you joined the church?
  • When have you been most proud to be connected with this church?
  • What means the most to you about this church?
  • Why does this church matter to people?
  • What do you sense God is doing right now?

Contact Information

Reading John Wesley’s Sermons in Community on Twitter

In response to one of the questions from the #dreamUMC conversation on Twitter, I shared this update.

My Twitter friend and fellow UMCer Matt Lipan (@mattlipan and check out his blog here.) responded.

There was a good deal of interest from this conversation. Matt and I followed up with an email conversation to put together a framework.

What is the plan?

  • We will host a Twitter chat each Monday night at 8:30pm cst/9:30pm est starting on June 4th.
  • We will use the hashtag #jwchat for our Twitter conversations.
  • We will read and discuss Wesley’s first 8 sermons over an 8 week period, reading & discussing one sermon a week. You can find these sermons online here and here.
  • Here is our reading schedule:
    • Salvation by Faith (6/4)
    • The Almost Christian (6/11)
    • Awake, Thou That Sleepest (6/18)
    • Scriptural Christianity (6/25)
    • Justification by Faith (7/2)
    • The Righteousness of Faith (7/9)
    • The Way to the Kingdom (7/16)
    • The First Fruits of the Spirit (7/23)
How do I participate?
  • Read the sermon for the week in advance.
  • We will use these 3 questions to guide our discussions each Monday:
    • If you were to preach this sermon in 140 characters, what would it be?
    • How did you hear God speaking to you through this sermon?
    • What did you discover that is most relevant to your community?

Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or plan to join us.

Age Statistics Comparison of #gc2012 Delegates

I checked with infoserv to dig up some information on the ages of delegates to General Conference 2012 as compared to the entire denomination. Thank you to the wonderful team at Ask InfoServ for their data gathering!

There is no official United Methodist source for age statistics for the denomination.  GCFA has not collected age statistics since General Council on Ministries. However, there is the 2010 State of the Church: Congregational Life Survey which breaks down ages by percentage. Here is the comparison between the Congregational Life Survey and the ages of 790 of the 988 total delegates to General Conference 2012.

  • Age 18 to 24
    • 2.8% – General Conference Delegates
    • 5% – United Methodist attendees in 2010
  • Age 25 to 44
    • 14.9% – General Conference Delegates
    • 19% – United Methodist attendees in 2010
  • Age 45 to 64
    • 64.4% – General Conference Delegates
    • 37% – United Methodist attendees in 2010
  • Age 65 to 84
    • 17.8% – General Conference Delegates
    • 34% – United Methodist attendees in 2010
  • Age 85+
    • 0.0% – General Conference Delegates
    • 5% – United Methodist attendees in 2010

Why I Support #PlanUMC at #gc2012

There has been much discussion about the reorganization of The United Methodist Church at General Conference 2012 with plans from various constituencies.

I believe that Plan UMC is the best starting point for a way forward for the denomination. You can find out more about this restructuring plan at http://www.planumc.org

Plan UMC:

  • is the only restructure plan that emerged at General Conference after the response of delegates in #Gen Admin Committee
  • preserves and strengthens the role of #gcorr and #cosrow in the Committee on Inclusivity #gc2012
  • is a way forward that will provide greater clarity, organization and direction for our boards and agencies #gc2012
  • will focus on creating vital congregations which incarnate the work of all the boards and agencies in a local context.
  • puts the denomination at the edge of its comfort zone – a place where progress is most likely to occur.

Regardless of what restructuring plan does or does not pass at General Conference, I am hopeful for the future of The United Methodist Church. I am looking forward to continuing our mission together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Energizing Others at #gc2012 (@TheKLC: 6 of 10)

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. I want to share my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

When you are seeking to make progress that you care about one of the most important things that you can do is energize others. Sharing a vision with others helps move the issue beyond yourself and momentum begins to take hold. One of the members of my team suggested that at times, one of the unexpected outcomes of this is that by energizing others you realize that you are not as indispensable as you think you are. There is loss in this realization.

Don’t let the possibility of loss keep you from sharing your vision with others.

If You Think Things are Crummy at #gc2012… (@TheKLC: 6 of 10)

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. I want to share my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

There are innumerable issues that delegates are trying to make progress on to help the United Methodist Church live into God’s dream for the denomination. It is a shared challenge on all of these issues that there are other delegates who think the way things are is just fine.

If you think things are crummy, remember that it is working for someone.

Has #GC2012 Taken You to the Edge of Your Comfort Zone? (@TheKLC: 5 of 10)

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. I want to share my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

If General Conference 2012 has taken you to the edge of your comfort zone, you are in the right place to make progress on the issues about which you care deeply. Too far inside your comfort zone and it may be difficult to make more progress than has already been accomplished. Too far outside your comfort zone and you may be unable to effectively take action.

The edge of your comfort zone is the place where you start to feel incompetent.

This is the place where progress is most likely to occur.

Leadership at #GC2012 May Not Meet Your Expectations (@TheKLC: 4 of 10)

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. I want to share my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

Everyone has expectations of leaders. These expectations come in many different forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Who a leader will be
  • What a leader will say
  • How a leader will act
  • What roles a leader will play
  • When a leader show up

Leadership often comes in unexpected ways from unexpected people. As you think about the goals on which you are trying to make progress, remember that exercising leadership may be distinct from what we expect of people in leadership.

If You Are Not Able to Take Action at #GC2012, Who Will? (@TheKLC: 3 of 10)

Whether you are a delegate or onlooker at General Conference, there is the opportunity to take action to make progress in The United Methodist Church. Voting, taking leadership in a legislative committee, providing hospitality, monitoring, listening in – there are all kinds of opportunities to take action that might in some small way affect the outcomes of General Conference.

One of the roles of a leader is to pay attention to one’s actions and how they are or are not being shared. As you consider your hopes or goals for General Conference, ask yourself:

  • Is your goal being shared with others?
  • Are you seeking to make progress on your own?
  • If you were not able to do it, who would do it?

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. This series of posts is based on my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

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Leadership Shifts to Make Progress at #GC2012 (@TheKLC: 2 of 10)

This past fall and winter, I had the opportunity to take part in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program through the Kansas Leadership Center with the Missions team at Resurrection West. I want to share my reflections and learnings from that time in light of the General Conference 2012 of The United Methodist Church.

There are at least three shifts in leadership perspective that are helpful in making progress on issues that we care about.

  • Technical to Adaptive – There has been much talk about the adaptive challenges that are facing the denomination. It will be important to seek to make progress in ways that are not just rewriting rules.
  • Benign to Conflictual Interpretations – General Conference does not seem to have challenge making conflictual interpretations. Focusing them on making progress will be an important opportunity.
  • Individual to Systemic View – This is one of the most important leadership shifts that could help make progress at General Conference. It can be easy for delegates to take the perspective of themselves, their annual conference or affinity group. More progress will be made by paying as much attention as possible to the entire system – both during the days of meeting ahead in Tampa and the months to follow.

Have you found our denomination to be making these shifts? What else might be helpful to make progress?