Welcome Everywhere

Several months ago, we made the decision to be homeowners, as Berryton UMC does not currently own a parsonage. The real estate search has been a bit of a challenge, as there was not an overly abundant selection of homes available in the Shawnee Heights School District. We did find a home that I believe will be great for our family and closed on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening we packed up our van with a variety of items that we wanted to move ourselves – picture frames, breakable items, and a welcome stone. I was about to close the trunk when I paused to look at this view. It struck me that we were literally packing up a sign of welcome from one home that will be going to another. But that’s all that it is – a sign of welcome.

God’s welcome has preceded our family’s transition to Topeka.

God’s welcome continues to be present in El Dorado.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and will continue to have to share God’s welcome with all people – no matter who they are or where they live.

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.

Learnings from the Kansas Leadership Center

I have had the opportunity to engage with the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) in the Leadership and Faith: Transforming Communities program over the past year. I wanted to share some of the learnings that I have gathered from my interactions with the KLC.

  • If you can be competent in four things – you will make more progress on your leadership challenges. They are:
    • Diagnose situation
    • Manage self
    • Energize others
    • Intervene skillfully
  • It is helpful to diagnose the situation more often and longer than one may think necessary.
  • It would always be nice to have more information before taking action. This is not possible. You have to take action.
  • Be ready to entertain more than one interpretation about any situation
  • Be ready to ask – What story are people telling about me?

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

Wisdom and Advice about Ministry in the Local Church 2012

I have been appointed to serve First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, Kansas beginning July 1, 2012. Will you please help me in this transition?

  1. Share your thoughts, feelings and opinions about ministry in the local church by using this link http://j.mp/MVELdL
    1. Helpful – What have you found to be most helpful for ministry in the local church?
    2. Unhelpful – What have you found to be least helpful for ministry in the local church?
    3. Transition – What wisdom and advice would you offer to someone beginning her or his ministry at a local church?
    4. Resources – What resources (books, websites, conferences, experiences) have you found to be helpful in ministry?
  2. Invite three other people to respond by sharing this link –  http://j.mp/MVELdL

I will compile these results and publish them in a blog post in the weeks ahead. If you leave your contact information on the form, I will contact you when the post is completed so you can see the results. I look forward to hearing from you!

New Appointment: My Most Common Response

An occurrence that is becoming more and more common as the weeks go on is people congratulating me on my new appointment. There are a myriad factors that are playing in to this transition. While there is a lot going on for our family, I simply try to recognize both the opportunities and challenges in this transition in a few short sentences. This usually ends up being an appropriate length in the conversation. Here is what I find myself sharing most often, “I am excited about the opportunities to get to know the church and community in El Dorado. There will be a loss of leaving Resurrection and the Kansas City area. It is going to be really good.”

What else might be helpful to share?

Questions for a Congregation from a Newly Appointed Pastor in the #UMC

Question mark
Question mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am preparing to transition to a new appointment beginning July 1. One of the things that I have learned from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is that good leaders ask the right questions. I have been working on a list of questions that I believe will be helpful in getting started well at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado.

Ministries

  • How is the church engaging the community?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Men?
  • What can you tell me about the United Methodist Women?
  • How would the church say that they have grown in the past year?
  • What is going on during the week?
  • What is the congregation’s favorite way of learning? Teaching, book study, etc.
Congregation
  • How are people growing in their faith outside of worship?
  • Who are the key influencers in the congregation?
  • Who are the people / families that will do whatever it takes at the church?
  • Who might peer churches be for support, encouragement and benchmarking?
  • Who are the staff and leaders that are great Bible study / small group leaders?
Mission and Vision
  • In what ways do the vision and purpose guide what the church does?
  • How are the vision and purpose communicated to the staff and congregation?
  • What is the vision and purpose of the church?
Facility
  • For the facility, what needs regular maintenance?
  • For the facility, what needs to be repaired?
  • For the facility, what needs to be replaced?
  • What is the state of the facility?
Pastor’s Role
  • How might can I best serve the church?
  • What are some ways to get congregational buy in?
  • What are some ideas for “quick wins” that might be possible?
  • What are things that I might do that have never been done before?
  • What facts or realities about me or my ministry can I share that might be helpful for the congregation?
  • What are the die hard principles or practices that if I change them will get me tarred and feathered?
Connection
  • What efforts exist to close the back door? (Keep people engaged who might otherwise leave)
  • What are the biggest barriers to people coming in the door?
  • What is being done to bring in new members?
  • What kind of follow up for first time visitors happens?
  • What new networks of people can I engage and develop?
Finance
  • How does the budget break out between compensation, operations, mission and ministry?
  • Is the budget growing?
  • Is the church paying its apportionments in full?
Community
  • Where do people gather for coffee or breakfast in town?
  • What opportunities for mission in the community exist?

What other questions would you add to this list?

New Appointment: How and When I Found Out

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. This is a series of posts about this transition.

At times the appointive process for pastors in The United Methodist Church can seem a bit mysterious – for pastors and congregations. I wanted to share how my appointment to First UMC El Dorado unfolded, along with my commentary:

  • Fall 2011 – I had my annual appointive conversation with District Superintendent and completed my appointive recommendation form.
    • This is part of the annual process, I was not sure what to expect about possible outcomes. I indicated that I was open but not asking for a move. Resurrection is a great place to be in ministry. Over the past year, I have become more clear about feeling called to be the lead pastor at a church. I did not know when that move might take place – this year or some time in the years ahead.

Thursday, March 7 – Preparatory Appointment Call

I received a phone call from the Kansas City District Superintendent in the evening. He indicated that I would be receiving a phone call from the Wichita East District Superintendent about an appointment that had been discerned for me. He asked if this was a good phone number to reach me and if tonight would be an okay time for that conversation.

  • The answer to if I was available was yes. I didn’t happen to have anything else planned, but this would have trumped about everything else I might have had on my calendar. Nicole and I briefly wondered why the name of the church wasn’t shared in this first phone call. We realized that the intervening time was helpful for us to process the news and be better prepared to listen when I did hear what the appointment would be.

Thursday, March 7 – Appointment Call

About an hour and half after the phone call from the KC District Superintendent, I received a phone call from the Wichita East District Superintendent indicating that the Bishop and cabinet had discerned that I would be appointed to El Dorado First United Methodist Church. He shared information about the church and the community. He asked if I needed time to consider, pray and talk with Nicole about this appointment. I indicated that this being the appointment that was made for me, I would go. The next step was to schedule an introductory meeting at First UMC and to keep the information confidential until then, as sometimes things do not go at those gatherings.

  • I was madly scribbling notes about the church and community, trying to look up information on the website and Google Maps and then turned to an electronic document to keep typing what the DS was sharing with me. I believe in God’s work through the appointive process and was glad to say yes to being sent to El Dorado in this conversation.

Monday, March 12 – Parsonage Tour

Nicole, John and I drove down to El Dorado in the afternoon. We arrived in time to drive around the city, take a look at El Dorado State Park and have supper at a local restaurant. The next stop was the parsonage (house provided for the pastor by the church) at 6:00 PM. We met the District Superintendent, current pastor and two members of the Staff Parish committee who also serve on the Parsonage team and Trustees. We had a tour of the house and talked about some possibilities that the church might do before we arrive. They indicated that they hoped to paint, perhaps re-carpet and a few other items.

  • It was neat to walk around the house where we will be living in a few months. It was overwhelming and generous to be asked our opinion on what might be updated in the house before we moved in. I tried to capture it all in my memory, but am sure that I will discover it all over again when we move in.

Monday, March 12 – Introductory at First UMC

After the parsonage tour, we went to the church to meet with the Staff Parish committee. The District Superintendent convened the meeting. As it turns out, the church did not know the who was being appointed before that night, just that someone had been appointed. Nicole and I had a chance to share our story as a way of introducing themselves. The committee members introduced themselves and shared about the church and community. I had some questions for them and they had some questions for me. There was some paperwork to be signed and then the meeting closed with a tour through the church building.

  • It felt great to meet the Staff Parish team. They are a wonderful group of leaders and I am looking forward to getting to working with them in the future. It was exciting to take a tour of the church and begin to imagine what it will be like to be in ministry inside and outside the walls. I tried to pack everything in to my memory.

How do Pastors in the UMC Provide Input into their Appointment?

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. This is a series of posts about this transition.

Yesterday, I shared a bit about how pastors are appointed in The United Methodist Church. I mentioned a form that clergy fill out each year regarding their appointment and I wanted to share that form with you. This form, along with an annual appointive conversation and any other ad hoc conversation with District Superintendent or Bishop is how pastors provide input into their appointment each year. This content is copied directly from the form provided by the annual conference, which you can download a PDF or Word document using this link.

Introduction

The key to an effective appointive process is open communication and consultation between and among pastor(s), Committee(s) on Staff/Pastor Parish Relations, Bishop, and the Appointive Cabinet. The District Superintendent, acting on behalf of the Bishop, works directly with the pastor(s) and local church Committee(s) on Staff/Pastor Parish Relations to enable the appointive process to reach an acceptable conclusion. [2008 Book of Discipline, ¶433] This assessment is treated as confidential information for the use of the Bishop and Appointive Cabinet. Pastors are expected to be honest in dealing with their congregation and others about any possible preference for a move. Pastors waive the right to confidentiality, should they be anything other than forthright in this matter.

Instructions

In your prayerful consideration, please check the option that best represents your assessment for the coming appointive year. Note on the continuum where you see yourself with regard to any possible move. Sign and return this form to the office of your District Superintendent by December 15th. In consultation with your DS, you are responsible to notify your S/PPR Committee of your request. Use back of form for any additional comments.

Appointive Options

  • __ This appointment appears to be a match and effectively utilizes my gifts and graces. I acknowledge that all appointments are annual, and I may be considered for a different appointment. If so, the following ranking of concerns applies. I realize that not all my concerns may be satisfied in any appointment. [Please rank your concerns in order of importance, with #1 being your highest priority.]
    • __ A different location (describe):
    • __ A different situation (describe):
    • __ Spouse, family, or household considerations (describe):
    • __ Salary increase is a critical need.
  • ___ This appointment does not appear to be match. Using the list of concerns above, I will provide information about the type of appointment which would utilize my gifts for ministry. (Rank your concerns on the list above; use back page if necessary.)
  • ___ I plan to retire, request leave of absence, ask for honorable location, or otherwise discontinue active ministry in The United Methodist Church. If retiring, a letter to the Bishop requesting this status is required 120 days preceding Annual Conference.

Appointive Continuum

[Please note your current assessment about any possible move.] _________________________________________________________________________________

Remain                                                                                                                                                                                                 Move

New Appointment: What’s Next for Nicole?

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. I am writing a series of posts about this transition.

One of the more common questions that I have received is: What is Nicole going to do?

My wife, Nicole, is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She and I were appointed full time to Resurrection in 2006 and we have both served here since then. After our son was born and taking maternity leave, Nicole transitioned to a part-time, 20 hour / week role.

We will be moving as a family to El Dorado and Nicole has requested a 20 hour / week appointment in the El Dorado area. It would not be at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, but it may be at another church in the area, in Wichita or some other flexible possibility. We have been told that the Bishop and District Superintendents are still in the discernment process for her. (I will write more about how this whole process works in the days ahead.) We hope to know within the next few weeks.

New Appointment: El Dorado First United Methodist Church

I have been appointed to serve as the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, KS beginning July 1. The news was announced at El Dorado and Resurrection West on Sunday. El Dorado is a city with a population of about 13,000. It is located just off I-35 about 30 minutes east of Wichita. It is the county seat and most populous city in Butler County. First United Methodist Church was organized in 1869 and is thought to have been the first church in Butler County. The current church building was built in the 1920’s. They have a traditional and contemporary worship service on Sunday morning with a combined average worship attendance of 150 to 175.

I am excited about being the lead pastor at a congregation and using what I have learned at Resurrection to be a part of renewing the church. At the same time, I will miss all the great people on staff and in the congregation at Resurrection. I am looking forward to getting to know the people of the congregation and community in El Dorado and together take the next faithful step.

I plan to write more about the transition in the days ahead, so check back for more updates. If you have specific questions or would like to share a conversation, please feel free to email me at andrew.conard@rezwest.org.