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SETTING A CLIMATE FOR MUTUAL MINISTRY
The following outline should be used by congregational leaders along with the book, Pastor and People: Making Mutual Ministry Work (Augsburg Fortress, 2003) as an introduction to how you can develop a healthy sense of mutual ministry in your congregation.
Congregational ministry can be compared to tending a garden.
- Many things happen at once.
- It takes constant planning, nurturing and evaluating.
- "Good" seeds and "bad" seeds grow side by side and sometimes get tangled.
- The purpose is for all things to work together to produce fruit.
Clarifying the role(s) of the pastor, associate in ministry and other lay staff members, appreciating the vocation of all the baptized and celebrating the partnership that we all share in Christ are vital aspects of carrying out congregational ministry. The health of the relationship between the pastor, staff, and congregational members has a large impact on the congregation's ability to fulfill its mission. These relationships require attention (tending). It absolutely requires appreciation of the separate but related ministries to which we are called.
There is no one simple way to insure that the relationship between pastor, staff, and people remains healthy. No one committee can make that happen. But having a variety of resources and tools in place will help pastor and people understand one another, weather the storms and faithfully carry out Christ's mission. This same atmosphere will allow the complex relationships between various staff members and the congregation to be cared for as well.
Resources and tools need by every congregation:
- Encourage open and ongoing conversation about baptismal vocation, pastoral calling, specific responsibilities of staff members, and mutual involvement in ministry among all the baptized.
- Insure that at least congregational leadership has knowledge of the Letter of Call issued to the pastor and rostered lay persons. This document contains general duties of the pastor as well as the local priorities specified by the congregation. It is important to have ongoing discussion with leadership about roles and expectations as well as how priorities are being carried out.
- Establish a Mutual Ministry Committee -- This is a small group of people who form intentional and mutual relationships with one another for the sake of enhancing the ministry of the congregation. This committee pays particular attention to relationships and scans the ministry of the congregation, the pastor and the staff to identify needs, gaps and opportunities.
- Encourage healthy relationships among members and with the pastor and staff by asking people to take responsibility for their own thoughts and concerns. Leadership should model and facilitate direct conversation with one another, mutual problem solving, and Christian charity. (A committee to receive the complaints of people is not needed in a congregation where people talk directly and caringly to one another.)
- Provide constructive feedback to one another as part of the routine of caring for the congregation.
- Pay attention to the need of pastor and lay leaders to have time with family, time away from responsibilities, time for growth and spiritual renewal.
- Provide for an annual Ministry Review and Performance Evaluation. This gives an opportunity to review accomplishments, talk about the effectiveness of pastor, staff and congregational leadership, and set ministry goals for the coming year.
- Know clearly the process for administering personnel policies, setting compensation, and dealing with staff concerns.
How to Get Started
- Find the Letter of Call signed when your pastor/associate in ministry/diaconal minister/deaconess was called. If this was signed recently, you can use it as a guide for your work. If it was signed some time ago, you will want to review and revise it.
- Review each of the Resources and Tools listed above to determine where there are gaps and needs in the ways in which your congregation shapes its ministry of pastor and laity.
- It would be helpful for each person on council, mutual ministry committee or other leadership team to read the book, Pastor and People: Making Mutual Ministry Work, encouraging all leaders to deepen their understanding of the many aspects of forming a climate for mutual ministry.
Congregations in the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod are invited to contact the synod staff member who relates to the congregation for help in evaluating and improving climate for ministry.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 August 2010 )