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Ordering the Life of the Church

In the United Methodist Church, Ordained Elders are called to four areas:





Today, I want to talk about Order - ordering the life of the church. This can be found in paragraph 340 in the book of Discipline.

We sometimes have questions of authority in the church. Who makes the decisions in the local church?

There are pastors and leaders who take a "my way or the highway" approach. This only really works if that leader's vision is 100% aligned with the vision of the people in the church or if the church does not have people who will step up into leadership.

There is a danger of the "solo heroic leader." This can be a pastor or a church leader who prefers to make decisions themselves instead of working with a team. The burnout rate for this type of leadership is very high. Instead of equipping a team, holding discussions about issues, and delegating tasks, the solo heroic leader takes control over every detail of a project and will only delegate if they are sure that it will be done their way. This keeps the team from fully exploring all sides of an issue or project that might include different perspectives.

Instead, the approach we take at Tuskawilla is one where we equip leaders and teams to do the ministry of the church. Our best example of this leadership model is in our Nurture Team. Pastor Bonnie Lattimer, as retired clergy, is a highly skilled leader. She has a passion for congregational care, along with years of experience, and excellent training. She requires the people serving on her team to go through comprehensive training to become Congregational Care Ministers and to attend monthly meetings for spiritual formation and support. These CCM's are then sent out for ministry. They do the work of visiting and serving our homebound members and caring for others in times of crisis. The relationships they build are a true expression of their discipleship and ministry. They are held accountable by Pastor Bonnie through the written documentation of their visits. As an ordained deacon, Pastor Bonnie has a strong sense of servant leadership, where she sees her role as serving the people of the church. While she does a great deal of work leading this team, she will tell you that she does not do it alone.

As the pastor, I have supported this team by going through the training, attending the monthly meetings, and communicating the needs of the congregation to the team. I serve on this team by performing hospital visits, bereavement visits, funeral planning, and being part of the prayer team that meets weekly, following up as needed with prayer requests and communication with Pastor Bonnie. We both document our work in a cloud based program that ensures confidentiality. On May 7 we will celebrate the addition of three new Congregational Care Ministers, who have completed their training.

I would love to see all of our teams follow this model:

  1. Train for their area of service

  2. Meet regularly for spiritual formation and support

  3. Establish goals and procedures for the work

  4. Send out the team members to do the ministry of the team

  5. Work together to solve problems and find solutions

  6. Celebrate success

In our leadership structure, the Administrative Council is the decision making body of our church. The individual teams represented on the council can make the day-to-day decisions for the operation of their teams, but then bring new business to the Administrative Council for any decision to be made. For issues that would affect the whole congregation in a significant way, such as selling property, we are required to hold a Charge Conference, where members of the church come together for a vote.

There is also a Charge Conference held each fall to vote on the upcoming year's leadership, the pastor's compensation package, and the removal of inactive members. Everyone is encouraged to attend this event to support the church.

Our Nominations and Leadership Development Team will meet next month to begin the process of nominating leaders who will begin their term on January 1, 2024. Some leaders may leave their positions before the first of the year. Leaders are expected to serve a three-year term. In some cases this term can be renewed for another three-year term. You can find our current leaders here.

If you are interested in serving in the leadership of our church, please contact me at I will meet with you to talk about how you feel God calling you to serve and let you know of the possible openings for your area of interest. We are committed to having a more diverse leadership team, to fully represent the people of our congregation.

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