Friday, September 24, 2004

More on Transitions

Upon reflection, I've realized that my last post may have given rise to a couple of specific questions;

Why do we use interim clergy, and what are the "5 interim tasks" you mentioned?

Interim clergy lead a parish through the time between the departure of one rector and the arrival of the next one. This in-between time is ideal for self-study and careful reflection on the life of the parish. Often the interim period is 12 to 18 months. The primary goal of interim clergy is to assure a healthy transition by working with the congregation to accomplish five developmental tasks;

1. "Where Have We Been?" Adressing the parish's history and its relationship with previious spiritual leaders. Often this will involve the grieving process I mentioned yesterday.

2. "Where Are We Now?" Exploring the possibilities of a new identity for the parish by assessing the spiritual gifts currently present.

3. Assessing leadership structures and facilitating necessary changes. In the current case, it is this task that lead to the discussion of the shift from Pastoral to Program leadership styles. More about this in a bit.

4. Strengthening Diocesan links. Intentionally connecting the parish more strongly with the diocese, so that both might be a better resource and support system to each other.

5. "Where are We Going?" Preparing to move into the future, daring to dream, and building excitement and support for the new rector.

How does a Pastoral Church and a Program Church differ?

The terms are drawn from Arlin Routhage’s pamphlet, Sizing Up A Congregation for New Member Ministry. Routhage describes the leadership styles of congregations based on their size.

The Family Church (0-50 members) consists of a few families or clans, each of which are lead by strong parental figures; the matriarchs and patriarchs. Rather than being the spiritual leader of these clans, the priest functions primarily as their private chaplain.

The Pastoral Church (50-150 members) needs a more cohesive leadership structure, so they select a professionally trained leader, usually a priest. From this leader the congregation expects inspiration, direction, and pastoral care. Organization is low key and flexible, with the glue being family ties and effective pastoral leadership.

The Program Church (150-350 members) recognizes that lay leadership is critical to effective ministry. The priest and staff delegate more authority; the Rector becomes the central pastor to the lay pastors. She or he coordinates the diverse ministries, forms dreams and new directions, administers goal setting, strategic planning, resourcing, training and ongoing evaluations. The life of the parish is centered around separate programs and worship circles. Newcomers are drawn by the quality of the programs offered.

The ministries of a Program Church are chosen and implemented according to a clear statement of purpose (or, as some would call it, a “Mission Statement”). This statement is the filter through which all decisions run. A Church cannot be all things; a specific purpose statement, with annual goals established to move towards the accomplishment of the purpose or mission, are essential to the Program Church.

Enough for now. Further questions?


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