If you want to go from the lobby in your hotel to the 12th floor quickly, pressing the elevator button repeatedly will not make the elevator doors open faster. The elevator (thankfully) moves at a perfect, predetermined rate. (Imagine if it didn’t and you were inside when an impatient guest kept pressing that button. Yikes!) A lot of smart engineers make sure elevators are convenient, safe, and get the job done.
If you want to cool your hot room to 68 degrees quickly, setting the thermostat to 50 degrees isn’t going to make it cool any faster. It blows “one temperature” of cold air until it hits the number set on the thermostat, then it stops. There’s no “instant” change. Can you imagine what would happen if the temperature actually went from 95 degrees, to, say, 50 degrees, instantly. Whoa. How would you body react? Great teams of people design modern air-conditioners to adjust the air temperature following physics and laws and human use-cases to get the job done right.
In the same way God, the Original Engineer and Designer, created humans to be partners, neighbors, and to be socially connected. To take care of creation, to make things, to produce things, to help people, to heal sickness, and to invest energy in relationships and systems on the earth to God’s glory. Getting in God’s flow of interconnected possibilities is the way we embrace Gods emerging future… together.
Jesus called twelve disciples to be together, as well, as learners and leaders. They were called to be with him, then to be sent out to preach, teach, and heal the world in his name.
Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, leaders of “the Way” frequently convened in groups to make decisions and to support each other in mission. To get the right jobs done, to bless the world, councils were formed. The New Testament speaks of leadership in the congregations as the shared work of spiritually graced women and men-who are part of the body of Christ. Examples abound of teams sent to express love, concern, and offer servant and spiritual leadership to others.
Presbyterians as a group of disciples of Jesus Christ organize together to promote their mission, and have established self-governing rules which were not created in a vacuum. In the stream of governance, Presbyterian polity has biblical and confessional foundations. As one means of ordering a particular community of believers, it has evolved over three centuries based on life experiences of real men and women of faith. Our Presbyterian form of government expresses an important engineering and design duality: the importance of the local congregation with its members, and the importance of gathered congregations (as a council), and gatherings of councils we call a General Assembly, to understand we are part of the whole as Christ’s Church.
A presbytery is greater than the sum of its parts. The presbytery as a whole is responsible for the ministry of the parts. The presbytery sets the vision and mission of the whole, to build up, nurture, discipline, and guide. Independent review helps the system be authentic. Administrative commissions, installation commissions, special administrative reviews, committees, teams, and staff, are all spiritual tools, resources, in God’s hands to build the whole in Jesus Christ as the whole pays attention to the parts. It is the presbytery (council) that moves us out in mission, together. Its hard work, but the impact can be dramatic as evidence-based discernment, transparent communication, authentic behaviors, and mutual learning and growth can impact the whole and the parts.
Whatever your role or function, thank you for investing your time and energy in organizational governance. The whole is blessed by the gifts you represent that serve the whole, the ministers and sessions and congregations in our presbytery, councils, and general assemblies. Together we continue to provide resources that promote the health and vitality of our congregations and ministers. Each time we gather together, we reflect and continue the historic tradition within the Church that we all need to learn, grow, and change together.
Gifted individuals are called in faith, love, and common mission, guided by the Holy Spirit to accomplish much more than any one individual, or one church, or one minister could alone. We honor and glorify God optimally when we build upon the Design and Engineering of the Creator as the body of Christ. We gather in celebration of Jesus’ life in our midst, and we gather for worshipful discernment to ensure that every congregation has the resources it needs to fulfill God’s unique call to them to demonstrate God’s love in the world.
You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything… as we are possibilities of grace, gifts to each other.
We may wish that our system was sleeker, smoother, or faster. (I do!)
I’m most interested in working with those exploring disruptive innovations (for example: 1001 new worshipping communities, New Possibilities Associates, my published article on disruption, Reciprocal Revolution, and Mission Convergence, and thought leaders like Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation).
We cannot incrementally achieve authentic and effective impact alone. We must have the courage to engage in courageous testing, hypothesis formation, measurement and assessment, deep thinking and disciplined action as together we choose God’s preferred emerging future through disruptive innovation.
We prayerfully expect our work together to have positive impact on our Whole (council) as it serves all the Parts (churches) to serve the world in the name of Jesus Christ. We are loving the parts, to serve the whole. Wow, that’s a pretty good reason to be together. Thank you for taking responsibility for your part. God bless us, our ministries, and the especially the communities we serve.
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything (1 Cor 12:25–27) The Message.
To God be the glory, to the earth be peace, to the people be courage, and to our communities be hope.