Wheat and Weeds

by Richelle Thompson on July 21, 2014

I hate to garden. But I really like the results.

A house seems so much warmer with an entry flanked by vibrant flowers. A backyard feels lived in with the turn of a red tomato or the wandering vine of a pumpkin.

Not only is gardening a chore for me, but also I’m not very good at it either. Nearly every plant we receive meets a lonely, thirsty end (or in some cases, death by drowning). Our best intentions are thwarted by lack of skill and attention.

That’s why I appreciate the parable of the wheat and the weeds from Sunday’s gospel reading (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). I thank God that I don’t have to know the difference, to separate the good from the bad. I’d be forever plucking off flower buds while the dandelions take over.

In the corner of our yard are a small flowerbed and a lamppost. Some ivy has been working hard to overcome our green-thumb deficits but there’s still a lot of uncovered clay and soil. Last year the spot played host to our fall spray of gourds and pumpkins. Our son and his friends enjoyed the end of the season with a gourd fight, smashing them on driveway and ground. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Clergy Transition, Evangelism

Rituals: A Shared Experience

by Jeremiah Sierra on July 21, 2014

I’m writing this in Uberlandia, which is a place I may never have visited if I hadn’t married Denise, who is Brazilian. It’s a city of about 600,000 located in south central Brazil. Although Denise and I were married in March, we gathered here with her large extended family so that some of those who couldn’t come to New York could bless our marriage.

Now, I do not speak any Portuguese. Some of Denise’s family members speak English while the majority know just a few phrases. I spent a lot of the weekend smiling and saying the two or three phrases I know in Portuguese.

Communication, I was reminded, is more than vocabulary and grammar. Soon, I will need to learn Portuguese, but it was enough, for now, that I show up and we make an effort to show gratitude and love to each other.

Often, when speaking with people I don’t know extremely well, I worry about getting the words just right. Occasionally, I don’t say anything at all for fear of saying the wrong thing. Sometimes this is a good strategy, but often a large part of good communication involves showing up and making an effort. Saying something is often better than saying nothing.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Prayer & Reflection

Using Your Fundraising Time Effectively

by Erin Weber-Johnson on July 18, 2014

In my July 11, 2014 blog I asked the question “How much time can a Church leader anticipate spending on the day to day activities of a successful campaign?” If you missed it, you can access it here

If we consider fundraising as not just a means to an end, but a ministry with the power to transform communities then the question of time raises questions about not just the amount of time---but how do you effectively use it. 

ECF Capital Campaign consultant Jerry Campbell writes:

“First, the good news…

“A capital campaign has a very good chance of being successful if the priest, bishop, or executive director happily and effectively devotes at least 1/3 of his/her time to the campaign. Let me say a little bit about those key words. 


“If the priest, bishop, or executive director can’t develop some genuine affection for the process of cultivation, relationship building and solicitation, it will be obvious to one and all and a serious impediment to a successful campaign. If this means getting some training with regard to major donor fundraising, and/or shadowing an Episcopal colleague in the course of his/her fundraising efforts, then that should be a priority before the campaign is launched. You have to find the fun factor in the work…or leave the campaign to the next person serving in that role. 


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Permalink  |  0 Comments Leadership, Stewardship

Finding Strengths

by Richelle Thompson on July 17, 2014

In a circle of thirty we sat. On the floor, in the middle, were Post-It notes listing our individual core strengths.

The staff of Forward Movement came to Cincinnati from the far corners of the world. Or at least, from stretches across the US: Chicago. North Carolina. Rhode Island. Texas. As our staff has grown, especially in the past year, this retreat was a time for everyone to get to know each other so we could build a stronger team and ultimately better serve the Church.

We used Strengths Finder, a program developed by the Gallup Poll folks. But any of those personality/discernment grids could work: Myers-Briggs, enneagram. Maybe even one of those self-guided Facebook polls (What kind of Medieval saint or sinner are you?) OK, maybe not that one.   

But the point of the exercise was to identify both our individual strengths and core personality traits—and then view them collectively. Where are our strengths as an organization? Where are some, ahem, opportunities for growth?   

Strengths Finder carves up the thirty-two core strengths into four quadrants: thinkers, relators, executors, and influencers. We discovered that the customer service folks were naturally strong relators—people who desire and nurture relationships. Our editorial team is filled to the brim with thinkers. Executors pop up across the board, but we’re light on influencers.   

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Christian Formation, Leadership

Managing Conflict Gracefully

by Brendon Hunter on July 16, 2014

Congregations need leaders who can offer more than just a quick fix. 

Is the temperature heating up in your congregation? And not in a good way?

While it is unlikely that conflict will ever disappear, the way we respond may make the difference between healthy - and perhaps difficult - conversations and shouting matches where both sides shut down. The articles and resources in this July midmonth digest offer strategies and techniques for managing conflict that allow for all to be heard and keep the focus on discerning a way forward.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Change, Conflict

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