Monday, October 21, 2013

Leading Questions

     The Leadership Team is proposing the following purpose statement for our consideration at the November 9th Presbytery meeting.  The Leadership Team at its October meeting edited the proposed statement as follows:  
             "The purpose of the Presbytery of Lake Michigan is to challenge, encourage and equip congregations worshiping communities of faith to make disciples of Jesus Christ with the gifts God gives us."   
Our rationale is that "worshiping communities of faith" is more inclusive of congregations, mission fellowships, camps, and campus ministries, and aligns with the PC(USA)'s 1001 New Worshiping Communities of Faith movement.   
     This proposed purpose statement grounds us and redirects our focus from saving the church to the heart of what the church is called to be and do.  We have expended too much energy concerned for survival of the church we have known and loved.  This statement clarifies why we are a church, why we would want to have thriving congregations, fellowships, camps, and campus ministries:  to make disciples of Jesus, to join what God is doing in the world.  At the June meeting we discussed "What does a discipleship look like in your context?"  
Based on the foundation of this statement, the Leadership Team is contemplating following questions:
  1. What are the organizational implications of this purpose statement?
  2. What will we not do because of it?  We will no longer...
  3. What will we do differently because of it?  We will give our attention to…
  4. What outcome(s) does God want? What will we measure so we know when we have reached that outcome?       
  5. How should we staff to support this outcome?

Please contemplate these questions with us and share your thoughts. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thriving Congregations Project Assessment Schedule and Materials

This program year, the Presbytery of Lake Michigan is partnering with Polarity Partnerships in a Thriving Congregations Project. The goal of this project is to increase the health of the congregations in the Presbytery, wherever a congregation may be on that continuum, and to increase its capacity to thrive. 

Polarity Partnerships has worked with corporations and organizations around the world, such as General Motors, Shell Oil, and government agencies including the U.S. Defense Department, toward achieving the organizations’ preferred future faster and more sustain-ably. At the November 9th Presbytery Meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall, Barry Johnson, president of Polarity Partnerships and co-author of the Alban Institute book, “Managing Polarities in Congregations: Eight Keys in Thriving Congregations,” will introduce “Polarity Thinking” as a lens through which to understand an organizations, in our case, congregational life. He will suggest that polarities are as natural as inhaling and exhaling, and are not problems to be solved, but realities to be managed. Roy Oswald and Barry identified eight polarities in their book. There are likely many others, as well. Polarity thinking helps organizations get unstuck from the vicious down side of each pole seeing them and by identifying action steps to move toward the up side of each pole .Be sure to have a good representation of your church leadership at this meeting.

The Presbytery’s Thriving Congregations Project, with the support of Polarity Partnerships, is designed to equip Sessions in assessing their congregations' life in two areas that thriving congregations manage well: Tradition AND Innovation, Spiritual Health AND Organizational Health. It involves asking members and friends of congregations to complete a 5 to 10 minute survey, which can be done online. Results will be shared with the Session with support from a Presbytery team trained by Barry Johnson.  Sixteen people were recruited and trained to help congregational leaders interpret the results and to assist learning from the assessment and utilizing results in future planning. Our expectations were exceeded by his insights and leadership. This group selected the two themes of inquiry noted above, reviewed and tweaked the 24 survey questions. 

All Sessions are invited and encouraged to lead their congregations in participating in this assessment. We realize that the timeline is tight to do so this October. Therefore a Pilot Assessment will be open from October 4 through November 4. The results will be presented at the November 9th Presbytery meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall. The same survey/assessment will then again be available March 1 through 31. 

Now that plans are more fully in place, we have communicated again to Sessions with a link to support materials posted at the Presbytery web-site that congregational leaders can use to understand the project, and how to implement it. 

Click here and you also can find
  • A description of the project, 
  • Suggestions for Congregational leaders, 
  • A Bulletin or Newsletter announcement, 
  • An invitation letter which we suggest you copy and email to your members, 
  • Instructions that participants will see at the beginning of the survey.
  • A copy of the actual survey itself. 
  • And remarks of our trained leaders.
Please let the Presbytery Office know if your church is using the assessment tool. 

Yours in Christ,

John Best, General Presbyter

On behalf of the Project Design Team
            Karen Kelly, Church Growth Committee
            Ray Kretzschmer, Mediation Team
            Christine Barnes, Leadership Team