February 19, 2024

Lenten Discipline for Congregations and Vestries

As we embark on the season of Lent and that of self-discipline, church leaders may want to consider what an organizational discipline for vestries and congregations would include. The following are offered for consideration.

  • Membership List – Lent may be a good time to update the congregation’s membership list and face the stark reality. Perhaps if we have not seen the person in 20 years they need to be dropped from the list? These are difficult decisions.
  • Church Inventory – The insurance companies highly recommend that we compile an inventory of the church’s valuables. If one does not exist, consider Lent as a time to put those smartphone cameras to good use and catalog all items. If an inventory already exists, updates would be in order, especially after the generous donation of a used microwave.
  • Church Property – In tandem with the inventory, Lent may also be a suitable time to ask members, especially past vestry persons, to return the items they borrowed from the church such as the church’s deed and prayer books, new and old.
  • Church Documents – Vestry minutes, financial information, contracts with vendors and other important documents must be properly filed for future reference. During Lent consider creating electronic file folders or purchasing three-ring binders (still sold!) to enable good stewardship of church records.
  • Maintenance Planning – Also during Lent, consider the ongoing and new maintenance projects that need to be addressed and plan accordingly. For example, should the welcome sign behind the tree be replaced, and did the snow removal contractor retire?
  • Vacation Planning – For those who live less adventurously, Lent may be a great time to start planning for the clergy’s vacation and that of the musician and other staff. The thrill seekers among us will wait until June to find a supply priest.

As with self-discipline, we are encouraged with organizational discipline not to take on too much, to give ourselves grace when we encounter setbacks, and most importantly, to enjoy the journey. A blessed and holy Lent.