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?