Preacher FAQ: Why do you park so far away?

Last Sunday, a member of the congregation asked me why I park so far away from the church building. So, in this edition of frequently asked questions for the preacher, here goes: I park far away from the entrance for two reasons – the mission field and my health.

The mission field is the community to which I have been appointed. There are just over 18,000 people that live within five miles of Berryton United Methodist Church. Over 10,000 of these people are not involved in a religious congregation or community. This is the mission field.

Parking away from the entrance to the building makes sure that there are spaces that are closer for people who may show up for the first time that day. I want to do everything that I can to help welcome people who come to the congregation and a little closer parking spot may help. Also, as I am walking toward the building I am mindful of the cars that will fill the lot and pray for all those that will gather for worship. The walk also offers time to consider those in our community who are not yet connected with a congregation. I am able to reflect on these persons and consider how the choices that I make as a leader in this congregation is helping share God’s love with those who have not yet heard.

Also, I want to stay as healthy as I am able. One healthy habit that I track is parking at the far end of the parking lot each day. This small step adds activity to my day and health to my life.

So, why do I park far away? For a healthy congregation and body.

What to Do with Unhealthy United Methodist Congregations

I recognize there is debate about how to determine what makes a congregation healthy.

What to do with an unhealthy United Methodist congregation is more difficult to determine than what to do with inffective United Methodist clergy.

Kick them out of the denomination? In some cases, this might allow the congregation to become healthier. It clearly doesn’t help unity in the church.

Appoint a new pastor? This may or may not have results. Understanding the congregation as a family system suggests that this may not have much impact.

Put them on probation? A period of time with focused efforts at renewal may be helpful, however there may not be much of an incentive.

Can you help me out with what to do with unhealthy United Methodist congregations?

Top 13 Characteristics of Effective Clergy

Some of the hoopla around guaranteed appointments is around the question – How do you determine what makes for an effective clergy person? That’s easy. Straight from paragraph 340 of the Book of Discipline, an effective clergy person will…

  • love God and love their neighbor.
  • preach, teach, lead worship and engage people in witness.
  • provide spiritual guidance.
  • marry and bury.
  • visit people in their homes to provide care.
  • practice integrity in maintaining confidences.
  • be responsible for sharing baptism and holy communion.
  • provide administration for the local church, annual conference and general church.
  • be inclusive.
  • live as a servant leader.
  • organize the church to live out their faith in the world.
  • equip others in the care and spiritual formation of others.
  • work for unity in the church.

If a clergy person is gifted and effective in these things, there will be clear evidence in the church.

A clergy person with evidence of gifts and effectiveness will continue to be appointed regardless of her or his appointment being guaranteed.

Picnic Monday!

Today, I neither had a picnic nor is it Monday, but I had a great time picnicking with a group of those in the congregation whose last names begin with M-R. We met at the Young Christian Outdoor Recreation Park off 199th on 69 highway. Each night this week there has been a different pastor from the Congregational Care team that is hosting a picnic with part of the congregation.

There was excellent food and I had the opportunity to get to know many people better and hear some of their stories. I also had the opportunity to share my story with those that were gathered there. I really had a good time. Thanks to all that were there! I answered some questions at the event, but wanted to make sure and respond to some of the questions that were written down that did not get asked in person:

  • Do you remember the girl in your sixth grade class?
    • Not off the top of my head, I will need to go back to my yearbook and see if I remember any names and faces after a refresher.
  • What are three of your dreams?
    • To be a part of renewal within The United Methodist Church
    • To be an excellent father at some point
    • To live a long, healthy life.

What other questions do you have for me?