Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Presbyteries of the Future?

The Presbyterian Global Fellowship posted a report from the Way Forward Task Force of San Diego Presbytery. You can read the post here:Lead as a Presbytery in a Post-Denominational Setting.

The report has a lot of meat for a short report. I'm not sure how some of the ideas can be implemented, or whether they all should be, but certainly there is a lot to think about and discuss. Some presbyteries are already trying to do some of the things suggested. For example, New Covenant Presbytery is trying to limit the business at presbytery meetings to essentials so that we can bring in special speakers and celebrate the ministries of our churches.

Emphasis on scheduling meetings so people who work is very important--that will also help bring in the "next generation elders" to the meetings as commissioners. Most of our younger elders work full time and can't take off in the middle of the week for presbytery meetings, so the meetings are dominated by the older generation. This year all of our presbytery meetings are on Saturdays, which is probably not the favorite day for the ministers, but it should help get broader representation from our elder commissioners. Except during soccer and baseball season!

Enticing people to attend presbytery meetings is a tall order. We've tried some innovative things, but attendance is not what we'd like to see. Post-denominationalism resists traditional meeting formats, in my opinion, so The Way Forward report will be a challenge to implement. It will be interesting to see how things go in San Diego Presbytery.


islandpreacha said...

The scheduling of presbytery meetings is a problem. All of ours are on Sat. but I don't know that it helps much with younger elders. For example at our last meeting our congregation sent commissioners all under 35. We all have families, kids, busy lives. Spending an entire Sat. - about 12 hrs (many of them boooring - including drive time is not a great way to nurture young leadership. I know I resent losing that time with my family -- really my only full day off with them. At our church many of our leaders would gladly take a day off occasionaly to preserve a Saturday which is precious time for many of us.

That's not a solution overall but my experience anyway.

Rev Kim said...

It will be interesting to watch how this is implemented. Our presbytery has been having these same conversations recently. Because our meetings are a day and a half, and the lengthy distances required to travel to them mean that most people have to leave on Thursday, we have the same problem as far as enticing younger elders to be their church's representative. We've had a task force meeting and proposing some new ways to do presbytery meetings, one of them being that Presbytery be a Saturday-Sunday, with a minimal amount of business being done at the meeting and the rest of the time being a "family retreat" type of atmosphere. I have a real problem with something being instituted that will make it so that most of the pastors can't attend, but I agree that we need to do something that will allow the younger elders to contribute their voices and gifts to the mission of the presbytery.

Purechristianithink said...

I think people of all ages would be more inclined to participate if Presbytery meetings were more about mission and less about institutional maintenance. I know there are i's that have to be dotted and t's that have to be crossed, but I think we can do a better job about not having those things front and center at each and every meeting.

Mac said...

There are good things happening at the local level, which is where ministry takes place. The bureaucracy at higher levels reall turns a lot of people away from the "church," even as they are looking for the Church.

The shift from top down to bottom up organization was what first drew my congregation to the New Wineskins model. The idea that the real working structure was a Ministry Network of 3 to 8 churches appealed to us because it was so manageable. A meeting of a presbytery with 63 congregations and 100 plus clergy members and another 100 plus commissioners--most of whom were folks who had been 'on presbytery" for years or even decades (all of our meetings were on Tuesdays) was simply unmanageable.

This is an exciting time to look for new ways to be the missional, witnessing church in post-Christian America.