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?
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.
When I have the chance to talk with someone more than briefly about the move one of the most common questions that comes up is about how pastors in the United Methodist Church get moved around in the first place. This question seems to be evenly distributed among those that have just started and long time attenders in United Methodist Churches. First a few of the key players
Bishop – oversees all the churches in an annual conference, which is nearly always a particular geographic area.
District Superintendents – oversee the churches in a particular area of the annual conference.
Cabinet – The Bishop, District Superintendents and a few other key staff
Here is the low down on the process:
United Methodist pastors are appointed to a church or churches on a yearly basis. In theory, a pastor could be appointed to a different location each year. In practice, an average would be that a pastor would serve 5 to 7 years at one location. It seems that the amount of time that a pastor serves at a particular place has trended longer more recently. Longer tenures tend to work out better for both pastors and congregations.
In the fall each year, the church makes a request as to whether their current pastor continues to be a great fit or if they would prefer that they serve elsewhere. This request is put together by the Staff Parish Committee, one of the governing bodies of the local church. As a pastor, I also complete an appointive request about whether I feel the congregation is a good fit for my gifts or if I might serve more effectively elsewhere. In addition to these forms, the District Superintendent has a conversation with both the pastor and the church about what might be next.
In January the appointive cabinet takes an inventory of all the churches and pastors is completed, taking in to account who will be retiring, who is graduating from seminary and will be ready for an appointment, what church / pastor combinations are working great and which are falling apart. Then they begin the discernment process using all this data, prayer and seeking God’s guidance to make appointments for the year ahead.
Ultimately it is the Bishop who makes the appointments with the advisement of the rest of the Cabinet. Bishop Scott Jones of Kansas has shared that the goal of the appointment process is “to maximize the missional effectiveness of every church in Kansas.”
Pastors and churches are notified of the appointments in the spring and they are fixed in the early summer at the annual meeting of all the pastors in the Annual Conference.
Does that make sense? What could be more clear? What did I get wrong? What else would be helpful to know?
There are many blessings of being in ministry serving as a pastor at a local church. One of these is the chance to teach classes about knowing, loving and serving God. This week I finished the second of a six week class in which we are looking at how we respond to God’s love and how our lives might be different as a result. I really enjoying sharing about our faith and the church, answering questions and helping people take the next step on their journey of faith.
There are many blessings of being in ministry as the pastor of a local church. One of these blessings is the opportunity to lead our congregation in mission to the community. In my role at Resurrection West, I have the opportunity to work with a great team of volunteers on the Mission team that organizes and equips our congregation to serve others and share Christ. I love being able to help people live out God’s call in their life.
There are many blessings of ministry as a pastor. One of those is to be with families with new babies. In the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to be with two families who welcomed a new member to their family, as well as pray before surgery for an infant. Each one of these are doing great.
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10, NIV
This verse reminds me of two things, which happen to be connected together. The first is an experience that I had in college at One Day 2000. Along with others from the college ministry of which I was a part, I traveled to Shelby Farms Park in Memphis Tennessee for One Day. This was one of the Passion Conferences and you can read more about it at this blog post – Remembering OneDay 2000-Sacred. Holy. His. This verse also reminds me of the song Better is One Day by Sonic Flood, who played at the One Day event.
More than these things, this verse brings perspective to my life when I get caught up in the details, tasks and minutiae of life. It helps broaden my perspective. Were you at One Day in 2000? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Also, how do you respond to this verse?