Friday, March 23, 2012

LSM Error Messages # 2 WRONG PASSWORD

      Congregations with relatively few business skills can often manage OK when there are no big challenges. Routine matters of organising volunteer rosters, working bees and mowing lawns and so on are no trouble.
     But when there’s a major matter of maintenance and only limited funding available, or a commercial contract to be let for specialist work, or a purchase of a complex item of equipment, it’s important to have competent people on business committees and to see that good business principles are followed in the decision-making and execution. The right people are the password to success.
     Finding them can be a challenge.
· Not all small congregations have people with competence to seek and compare quotations – indeed, some church committees don’t even bother with them for quite large purchases or contracts.
· Many committees don’t have the ability to prioritise different kinds of spending from a modest, fixed budget.
· Some even cannot even understand a simple statement of accounts.
     It’s very important that people with the right skills and knowledge and a sense of Christian stewardship are drawn onto Councils and committees which carry substantial responsibilities. Usually, but not always, the same people will also have vital skills in meeting procedures and rules of debate.
     The point is that a place on the council of a small church is not just a reward to be handed out to faithful members. Nor is it an open forum for everyone to come along and have their two cents’ worth. Sheer goodwill and confidence is not enough. We need to get the right people for the job.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Our Kauri Leader

      Our little kauri tree has definitely repaired itself!
......It lost its central "leader" two years ago. Ever since, it has looked like the five branch stems around it were likely to take over and make a deformed cluster of trunks. It struck me at the time they were rather like a small church opting for Local Shared Ministry instead of a paid minister. Now that was not a metaphor I wanted to emphasise. Nor is it a suitable metaphor for LSM that the central leader has now recovered.
......But it is a fundamental principle of most congregations that they look to one person to be a focus for the essentials. It is normal for just one person to be the final arbiter in times of differences, to offer direction when we are astray, and to be the centre around which most things turn. Every congregation, at heart, wants one person to look to.
......So, how does a small church using LSM manage without the authority figure that is the paid minister? First, there is a shared authority in the fact that every member of the team is called by the parent church. There is a confidential prayer ballot among the members, but the results do not necessarily determine who is called. That step is taken outside the local church membership.
......Second, it is possible that the congregation may call one person to be the Team Leader, to convene meetings and to exercise on occasion the kind of coordinating role that might be provided by a paid minister.
......Third, every LSM unit has a Ministry Enabler appointed by the parent denomination. This person carries the authority of the denomination and provides a focus for the whole of the ministry of the LSM support team and the congregation. This role may not play a major part in day to day life but when it is needed, it must there.
......The tiny, fragile shoot at the top of our wee kauri isn’t a very large part of the tree. It points the way to the skies that the tree will one day pierce. But it is the whole tree that does the growing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

LSM Error Message #1

A Local Shared Ministry Team does not meet without its Enabler being present. This is especially important when a new team is getting established or when there may be disagreements as to how to engage in the work of the team it facilitates the parish’s mission.

     The Enabler is not merely the facilitator of the Team, s/he is also the ministerial appointment to the Parish, responsible for the parish’s relationship to the parent body. The Enabler also carries a special understanding of the congregation’s place in the ecclesiastical scheme of things and is the bearer of the tradition and guardian of the heritage.
     Part of the gift of LSM is the obligation to work with an Enabler from the wider church. Both local congregation and national ecclesiastical authority need to remember that this is not negotiable.

Monday, March 5, 2012

District WHAT?

     The possible demise of Regional Councils is OK by me. I’m sure we can find other ways of managing the best aspects of their work and we can do without some of the worst.

     But I think a lot of the arguments used for eliminating them (Listener 25 Feb 2012) should also be directed at the huge District Councils that are to stay in place or even, God forbid, be amalgamated to make bigger ones.
     Paihia’s needs for water, footpaths, libraries and play areas are not essentially different from those of Harihari or Maketu. We don’t need District Councils for needs which are held in common around the country.
     What we do need is a completely new kind of local decision-making body that can relate to the Paihia situation, not 42 disparate communities. This kind of body will not have large infrastructure and a host of salaried officers. It will consist of local people in their local communities operating a mechanism by which they can give advice about what is needed and also develop some special things themselves.
     Some of these groups will be elected formally, some will be kind of ad hoc. All will have a passion to get the best they can out of available national resources, as well as the commonsense to realise that their needs will have to relate to the needs of others. Each will be directly related to just “our community”.
     The Paihia Community Trust is a move in the right direction. Let’s have that instead of the FNDC.