Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Council Report

At our church's new member classes I explain that the local church is three things.
  • The church is a spiritual community, where we trust in the same Lord.
  • A local church is made of people who know each other. It is relational.
  • A local church exists in the world as a business entity.
As a business it has a board of directors. Our board of directors is called a "church council." As a lead employee of this church business, I make monthly reports to the council. I'm preparing part of my report this time on the internet in preparation for tonight's council meeting.
  1. According to my records, I work about 55 hours a week in church related service.*

  2. During the summer part of that time has been spent in continuing education at Bible Camp, continuing a review of the Truth Project with Paul & Nate, and doing other reading and study especially in relation to education and long-range planning. I am allocated two weeks per year for continuing ed.

  3. As a way of doing what is central to my personal call to the ministry, that is, to "equip" the people of the church for God's mission, I have been writing and publishing on many topics including worship, prayer, Christian education, lay ministry, mid-life changes, ministry with elders & others in need, God's name, family, children & home life, sexuality, our relationship with the ELCA & synod, mental health issues, action on behalf of the abused, the importance of fact checking and open discussion of issues, global warming, temptation & imperfections, youth ministry, being "born again," accountability, international issues, the Apostolic Lutheran denomination, diversity & uniformity of opinion in communities, the value of the internet, truth vs. relativity, forgiveness and the healing of relationships, and a bit about long range planning. All of these things are on the internet and are available in print for those who need to see them that way.

  4. I'm revising my views of "long range planning," moving to a more prayerful approach that comes out of my friend Wendy Berthelsen's work at her organization Call Inc. To pursue the "God-Designed Church" we would have "Vision Raising Events." We would gather for scripture teaching, prayer, brainstorming and, importantly, to see which of us would like to be involved in making one or more of the brainstormed ideas into a reality.

    Wendy Berthelsen has described "Vision Raising" as a Spirit-led brainstorming-type process. It trusts that people will hear and obey God's call to use part of their energy, time and passion to advance the work of the church. Because the church is a group of God-called individuals, the key is to ask what God is doing in our lives together, to listen for God's answer as he speaks through his Word and the energy of his people.

    "Mission and vision" then become descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is a way of looking out into the community and reflecting upon life at church with thankfulness for what is already happening. It asks people who are not currently involved to consider how God might be calling them in the days and years to come, during the particular season of life in which they find themselves. This keeps the leaders from trying to push people into doing things and it allows people to do things to which they feel truly called.

  5. Tomorrow night we'll try again to have a discussion on the ELCA's proposed statement on sexuality.

  6. Much planning and preparation is underway for this fall's program.

  7. Please continue to share questions, information and comments.
*I share a more information about my hours with the council. Others may see them upon request. My church related service is governed by a "letter of call" (click here to download - pdf file, one page). A "mutual ministry committee" has met with me in the past so certain "emphases" for each year's work can be developed and approved by the council. Three of the emphases that were agreed to for the year beginning June 2007 were stewardship (goal = 300 PoWeR SuRGe commitments), prayer (goal = gather a prayer team for church in mission), and planning (goal = work with leadership toward setting congregational goals).

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