December 17th, 2011
I’m writing today to outline the process we’ll be using to develop the governance system for our community. But before I go one step further, I want to stop for a moment, and, as is our practice, notice a few things.
At the end of July, we said farewell to Pastor Phil and Trinity Lower East Side, and embarked on a time of transition that was just a little longer and more complicated than we imagined it would be! We spend August, September, October and November in a time of significant transition as we moved, wandered, sought, and finally found our new home at the Zen Center.
What have I noticed?
That never once did I worry that we would not survive this transition.
The ease and flexibility with which we adjusted to each new space we worshipped in, improvising together as we did so.
The hospitality and generosity of our congregants who opened their homes to us, helped pack and move boxes, and sorted out new subway commutes to Church each Sunday
In short, that our church is not a building, but a people, made up of all of you, who I am privileged to serve.
Now it is time to embark on our next big project: developing a governance system.
Developing Our Governance System
For the past three years, St. Lydia’s has made our decisions informally, with me asking questions of the community, listening to your responses, and guiding us forward. Church planting experts confirm that this is an appropriate way for a new community to govern itself. In the third year, it is generally time for a community to develop and formalize a governance system.
It is my hope that this process will be guided primarily by you: the community. My role as your pastor is to provide a framework for the process and to facilitate it in moving forward. At the end of this process, my hope is that the community will feel that you have created our governance system as a body.
The Framework For Our Process
We’ll meet once a month for a Community Conversation. These meetings will be in the evenings. The meetings will revolve around a particular subject or issue that the group has decided on. At each meeting, we’ll decide decide when and where the next meeting will be, what we’d like to focus on for the next meeting, and what kind of preparation we should do for the next meeting. Notes on the meeting will be distributed via the update so that everyone can stay up to date on the conversation — even ones they couldn’t attend in person. I’ve planed our first two meetings to give us a broad and biblical foundation from which to explore. After that, the community will take the reigns of the conversation.
Our First Two Meetings
The goal for our first meeting is to think broadly and creatively by reading about a variety of different types of governance systems used by different communities. Jeremy has compiled a list of books and articles for us to explore in the coming month. Click here
to see the list of books and articles and sign up on line to read one of them. Also on the list are some real, live communities that have interesting governance systems. If you’re interested in those communities, you’re invited to set up a phone call or e-mail with a leader there to learn more.
After doing our research, we’ll gather at our first meeting, to be held from 7:00 – 9:00 pm on Monday, January 30, and report back on what we found. We’ll also put together a preliminary list of topics we would like to explore as a part of this process.
I would like our second meeting to focus on biblical models for decision making. We can discuss how we would like to approach this discussion at our first meeting.
Why This Is Important
Read Paul’s letters, and you’ll catch a glimpse of communities in conflict, and sometimes in crisis. Paul writes to these house churches, coaching them through the differences they’re having and the changes they’re experiencing, urging them to hold together as the body of Christ. Looking around us, it is abundantly clear that trying to make decisions together is difficult. Churches, community groups, families, nations — all struggle to remain unified while hearing and responding to diverse voices and opinions. St. Lydia’s governance system will not help us avoid conflict and crisis. Conflict and crisis are inevitable. Rather, our governance system will help us to hold together as the body of Christ when conflict and crisis emerge. Our charge is to create a system that, at its best, equips us to become the congregation God is calling us to be. Your voice, perspective, and experience is important in this conversation, as we build St. Lydia’s together.
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