Clergy Life

One of my favorite TV shows is Love It or List It on HGTV. The show begins with unhappy homeowners explaining how their current home doesn’t work for their family.  The show has two hosts, a realtor and a contractor, that promise to rescue the family from their housing dilemma in opposing ways. The contractor, takes the lists of complaints the family has about their house, and with a limited budget, sets about to fix each item. The realtor takes the homeowners on a tour of another house which meets all of their expectations and they can afford to purchase.

What would it take for you to love your current situation?

     Most churches and businesses find it helpful to do exit interviews with employees who are leaving their post for whatever reason. If done with an open attitude, these meetings provide meaningful insights into the health of the organization and spotlight areas of needed change. They also help the departing individual find closure. If you are an exiting church employee or layperson stepping down from a key leadership role, you should request an exit interview. The people you meet with should not just include your supervising committee (PPRC in UMC), but also the other staff and church leadership who understood the nature of your work.

When clergy and church staff move, they need an exit interview

It is the season of the year when one quarter of all United Methodist clergy will be packing their books, pianos, exercise equipment, etc., and moving to greener pastorates.  A similar percentage of Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc., move each summer, and anxiously enroll their children in a new school district. We all wish that pastorates were longer. There is a high cost to moving; not just to those who pay the bills and those who mourn the loss of a favorite pastor, friend, or healthcare provider, but also, in the lost momentum of congregations that are feeling their way in a changing religious marketplace.

Eli Whitney's Interchangeable Parts

In last week’s blog I speculated on how productivity varies over the thirty odd year career of the average clergy person. Let us be blunt; the United Methodist church, and other mainline denominations, are moving towards a system that reduces professional productivity down to one factor, the capacity to add members or grow a church (sometimes called ‘metrics’). Elsewhere I have cautioned that we need to read this as an institutional concern, which may have little correlation to God’s calling on a particular pastor’s life or the God-given vocation of the church that they are serving.

 

Clery Performance v Years of Service

The life cycle of a congregation is often described a bell curve, mapping out membership growth over time. Martin F. Saarinen (The Life Cycle of a Congregation -Alban.org), and others, chart how a congregation is born with enthusiasm, has significant yearly growth for a decade or so, enters into a long period of stability, then falls into decline, leading in time to death. My first response to seeing this curve was to ask, what about Canterbury Cathedral? Obviously there are outliers, that is churches whose lifespan is so unexpected that it skews the chart.

Life Cycle of a Congregation
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