Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Want to bet on it?

     It was great to see Sir Bob Jones’ forthright condemnation of the government’s shabby deal with Sky City in yesterday’s Herald. And his opinion was based so much more on facts and figures than any comment I could make.
     I have previously identified Sir Bob as kind of prophet in some areas of human life. But in this article, he couldn’t have come closer.
     And like other prophets, he will probably find that his views won’t change the minds of a stubborn and weak-minded government. But all praise to him for having a go at this nasty feature of our society and its creation of a growing under-class in the name of "charity".

New Step in Local Shared Ministry

     Last Saturday's decision to merge our Parish Council and the Ministry Support Team is a new step in our journey of Local Shared Ministry.

     As most people know, I was involved in introducing the model to New Zealand in 1990, and our parish was the first Presbyterian or Methodist congregation to adopt it. Others have followed as Bev and I promoted the concept here and overseas.
     We always encouraged congregations to separate the body that “governs” the congregation from the Team who “coordinate” the work. Our Parish’s recent decision to put these two functions into just one group is a novel approach.
     It will be a little strange at first. Our Enabler will be seen among more of us on a regular basis. Different things will happen as the seven come together each month. And future Parish Annual Meetings won’t need to appoint a Parish Council or elect officers.
     After 20 years we are ready to break some new ground. For some time Parish Council has been trying to “think itself into a new way of acting”. But now we are going to “act ourselves into a new way of thinking”. We are in for some interesting times...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Policy and Acting in the LSM congregation

     As a general rule there should be separation between the Parish Council that determines policy and the LSM team which carries it out. Normally, Council members are elected by the parish membership but the Team is put in place by the wider church.
     But it’s a fine line and in the smallest congregations it may prove impossible to set up two different groups to live out these two roles.
+ Some very small LSM Teams are called to be the Council as well.
+ In some others the two groups of people usually meet together.
+ In any Council there should normally be some representation from the Team but not so many members that the Councillors are outnumbered or outvoted.
+ Some churches safeguard voting by not permitting Team Members to cast a vote.

Decision-making in the small church

     We have another Calling coming up for our lay ministry team and the first thing we will do is re-consider the strategy. As always, we will pause to consider if there is any alternative way of providing ministry for our small fellowship.
     This year is our nineteenth in Local Shared Ministry so perhaps there will be more discussion than usual. Maybe we will even need a formal vote about the principle before we can go on to implement it.
     I recall a maxim we trotted out when we were considering new ventures in the feisty 1960s: “Ten percent in favour is a mandate for action”… It was never quite true of a Parish Council. But it is true that many significant policies have been initiated because a small minority became enthusiastic and vigorous. And many a programme has died because a small minority vigorously opposed it openly.
     In decision-making in the small congregation, I think I take off my hat to those who sit near the middle of these kinds of debates. Sometimes they struggle to understand the issues and to cast a wise vote. Afterwards, they will probably not be the leaders of the action (or inaction) that will follow.
     But they are loyal to the congregation. They will give their support where they can. And even if they are not actively involved, they do not bad-mouth the policy or those who implement it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Drive Carefully!

It’s disappointing that our Easter zero road toll is not going to be repeated this holiday weekend. 
But it was simplistic of the Police to claim that the Easter success was because of their strict monitoring of motorists’ speeds. Sadly, the last 24 hours have made it very clear that the issues are much more complex than that.
We need to keep working on this, all of us who drive.  Bev and I, who have been on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks, are always grateful to get back to Te Haumi without incident.

Error Messages in LSM #5

     Any difficulties that develop between the members of a Local Shared Ministry unit, or conflicts between the parish council and the Ministry Support Team, must be addressed with urgency.\
     The nature of ministry through a team of individuals is that there is not usually a clearly defined “leader” in the local setting. When differences develop and the Enabler and the normal routines of personal supervision and team-building are not able to deal with them it is time to seek outside assistance.
     In a regular parish the ordained minister would recognise a pastoral responsibility to deal with this kind of situation. If the minister is not able to engage effectively in handling any conflict, it is normal to seek some assistance from beyond the immediate pastoral setting.
     Exactly the same situation applies in the LSM situation. The Enabler should seek advice and assistance from beyond the local setting and these should be readily forthcoming.
     The very worst thing that can happen to developing conflict is nothing. Too often that is what seems to happen. Team members, parish Councillors, and Enablers all need to take great care. And when their concerted efforts are not enough for the task and they call on outside assistance, that must be offered quickly, compassionately but decisively.