Eugene Peterson spent most of his adult life serving as a pastor. He was also a scholar and was best known for The Message translation of the Bible, but that came out of his struggles to help people pray. “Getting started is easy enough,” he wrote. “The impulse to pray is deep within us, at the very center of our created being. ‘Help’ and ‘Thanks!’ are our basic prayers.”
Over the years, Peterson found that people often seemed “awkward and out of place” as they tried to deepen their conversation with the Creator. When they felt inadequate, Peterson would “put the Psalms in a person’s hand and say, Go home and pray these. They’re the real thing: honest, true and personal in their response to God.” (The Message, Introduction to the Psalms)
This month we offer five reflections on hybrid church and digital ministry. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers, blogs, and the monthly digest.
A few years back, the Episcopal Church made an intentional change in its language: “Clergy Deployment” became “Transition Ministry.” The shift was generally a good one and it led to an impressive amount of reflection on lay leadership, congregational life cycles, and the strategies that can support healthy arrivals and departures.
Yet, we still need to be talking about clergy deployment. We still need to be talking about how we get the right people into the right chairs. (Or, to use a more sacred version of that same metaphor: The right people behind the right altars.)
In Part 1 we reviewed where to have the retreat and the importance of setting the proper tone with meaningful passages from scripture. In Part 2, we’ll look at some essential components to create a successful experience.
First, begin with making agreements with each other for the day. As with everything that will follow, you can create whatever makes sense to you; you are also welcome to use what is provided here.
Essential Agreements for Meetings:
I always state the request and ask people to audibly answer yes. This immediately creates trust and allows people to share more deeply than they otherwise would.
The Episcopal Church needs to ask bigger questions.
Pastoral training has long taught us to look for the bigger questions: Is this person really upset about the color of the new carpet or does this person feel that too much is changing too quickly? Is this person really angry about last week’s sermon or is there something going on at home?
We are more effective pastors when we identify underlying issues and address them directly. The same principle applies when we take our place in the councils of the church: If we ask the bigger questions, we will get better results.
Recently, the Vestry of All Saints’ Phoenix gathered for a one-day retreat that I was honored to lead. Without discussing any specific comments, I’d like to share with you the essentials of the retreat, and invite you to gather with your Vestry to create a vision for the future.
Now, more than ever, as we emerge from a pandemic that still lingers and face the prospect of an expanding war in Europe, we must create a powerful vision for the future that calls our congregations forward into new life.
In Part 1, we’ll discuss the logistics and the way we framed the conversation. In Part 2, we’ll review the structure we used to guide our visioning.