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USING THE NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT AS A TOOL IN CONGREGATIONAL LIFE AND TRANSFORMATION A New Form of Government a New Model of Church.

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Presentation on theme: "USING THE NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT AS A TOOL IN CONGREGATIONAL LIFE AND TRANSFORMATION A New Form of Government a New Model of Church."— Presentation transcript:

1 USING THE NEW FORM OF GOVERNMENT AS A TOOL IN CONGREGATIONAL LIFE AND TRANSFORMATION A New Form of Government a New Model of Church

2 A Very Short Introduction to Presbyterian Polity Polity  How we gather and govern the community of faith  Polity says something about who we are and how we understand community Four Primary Areas  Theological Foundations  Confessions  Ongoing theological discernment  Guiding principles  Accountability (Governance)  Worship  Discipline

3 Worship and Discipline Mostly unchanged A few minor alterations to clarify some things but otherwise, no major changes These are guides and are there when you need them. They do not play a huge role in the day to day life of the church  Worship section gives guidance on worship and outlines principles of Reformed worship  Discipline section is one we hope not to use but it is wise to be generally familiar with it

4 Foundations and Governance Formerly one section (G) now divided into two (F&G) Together they seek to paint a picture of who we are as a church and what we feel is our calling in the world as a community of faith Why change it? What was wrong with it?  No one thing.  Over time it became a camel- a horse designed by committee!  Rather than try to fix it piecemeal, we took this as an opportunity to do a thorough assessment of what we believe and what we do

5 Foundations The “F” Section Foundations of Presbyterian Polity  Gives the why about the way we organize ourselves  Provides historical context for the evolution of our current church structure and the principles the guide it  Makes a theological statement about who and whose we are and what it is that we, as the church, are called to be

6 Foundations Theology Trinitarian  Clearly states our reliance on the triune God  Declares that the communal nature of God in the three persons is to be reflected in our sharing of community Reformed  Clear sense of human sinfulness and our reliance on grace even as the church  Makes clear the priority of scripture in the church and the role of the historic confessions in guiding our understanding

7 Foundations Theology Diversity  Diversity exists not only between individuals but communities  Recognizes the diversity of faithful communities in the church  Seeks to affirm being the body of Christ in the world in many ways rather than obeying a set of rules Hope and Resurrection  Affirms that our hope is in the risen Christ  Calls the church away from the anxiety of death to the promise of the resurrection

8 Foundations Ecclesiology The primary question for churches and other communities of faith… Pre-nFOG “Does it follow the rules?” Post-nFOG…. “Is it making visible the body of Christ in the world?”

9 Governance the “G” Section The Foundations tell the “why” of the church and its mission The Governance section paints a picture of the how Our troubled relationship with the Book of Order led some congregations to view it as a barrier to ministry  Rule book  Deal breaker  Restrictive  Seemed more about law than grace  In the end…destructive

10 Governance A New Day The new “G” section is a sea change  Before we had a rule book  Now we have a picture book filled with the varied possibilities of the church  Shifting power relationships  The presbytery becomes the most visible and active embodiment of our connectionalism  Recognizes that local communities know one another much better and our focus needs to be on building those relationships  The focus is no longer on adherence to the Book of Order as a manual of operations

11 Governance Some of the Changes Breathing Room  The new polity gives us broad parameters for what is and what is not “in bounds”  Leaves much of the discernment of what makes a worshiping community up to the community and the presbytery  No more “one size fits all” Accountability  We are still Reformed and remain accountable to one another individually and as a community  Emphasis of our accountable relationships is on shared mission and grace rather than legislation and law

12 Governance Some of the Changes Focus of polity is clearly on meeting the needs of the church in the world and equipping ministry at all levels Shifts the focus of power and oversight to the presbytery  Presbyteries know their context and ministries  The presbytery is a more manageable size for building relationships and trust for difficult decisions

13 Governance Some of the Changes Local ministry focus on the congregation/local community of faith  No more “one size fits all” idea of church  Relies on local communities to help shape presbyteries meet their needs  Acknowledges that the body of Christ comes in many different forms throughout the church  The responsibility is on the local church to discern their needs and work with their brothers and sisters in Christ to meet them

14 What Does All of This Mean? First and foremost it means we are in a time of change in the church  That can be tiring, frightening, anxiety producing  It can also be exciting, thrilling and creative! There is a new urgency for congregational leaders  The nFOG makes very clear who is responsible for the life of the congregation…..It’s Leaders!  We are in a creative and open time in the life of the church and need to strike while the iron is hot

15 What Does Success Look Like? Gone are the days of everyone wanting to be the big tall steeple church…and thank God they are! The old question was: What do we need to become a large, well-funded church that is not ever in danger of dying out. The new question is: What do we need to be doing today to live into our calling as the people of God in this place and on this day? This is the New Church

16 The New Church Four Characteristics of Churches Boldly Facing Tomorrow  Vision- We have a clearly articulated vision of who we are called to be and what we are called to do in our context.  Faithful- We seek to live up to God’s call as the body of Christ in the world and are faithful to our vision.  Hope- Our motivation for living into the vision is rooted in our belief that in God’s good time our labors will bear fruit.  Courage- Our hope in Christ promises to give us strength and courage. Do we have the courage to work today for today and give over to God our anxieties about tomorrow?

17 The New Church Vision We cannot be everything to everyone…that job is taken.  Vision is not a declaration of everything we believe or hope or dream.  Vision is a statement that tells the world how we judge our lives.  Our vision is our measuring stick. The vision of the Presbytery of Arkansas is to make visible the body of Christ. The PoA Vision is : The vision of the Presbytery of Arkansas is to make visible the body of Christ.

18 The New Church Vision nFOG invites congregations to discern what parts of the larger calling of the church they are called to live out The responsibility for identifying and living into the vision of the local congregation rests first with the congregation’s leaders Some things to consider  Does your church have a vision?  What is it?  When was the last time it was reviewed?  Is it used to guide the work of the church?

19 The New Church Faithful Once the vision is articulated, faithful living begins  Faithfulness is not about success or failure in the secular sense  It is a measure of our commitment to the vision of our call in Christ Some questions to ask  What are our assets for faithful living?  What is standing in our way of faithful living?  If we do not posses the tools to clear that obstacle, where do we find them? Remember we are a CONNECTIONAL church. We are in this together!

20 The New Church Hope What is motivating your congregation right now?  Is the motivation to live fully each day into the calling of Christ?  Or is the motivation not to die? Living into hope is about more than confessing faith in Jesus Christ. It is about living that faith and promise as though they were already fulfilled.

21 The New Church Hope What is the point of what we are doing?  Sometimes an honest assessment of the “whys” of congregational ministry are very revealing  The number one motivation is fear of dying Do we work to proclaim the glory of Christ and to show his mercy and love? OR Do we work to preserve our congregations? In other words, is the work of the church rooted in hope or fear?

22 The New Church Courage Hope gives us courage for the struggle Letting go of our anxieties about congregational decline and death takes courage.  Where is your church exhibiting courage? Where have you let go of anxieties and left the future up to God?  Where is your congregation acting from anxiety and fear?  What would help your congregation move past that?

23 nFOG and the New Church What now? Familiarize yourself with the Book of Order particularly:  The “F” section  G-1 Congregations and their Membership  G-2 Ordination and the Responsibilities of Officers  G-3 Councils of the Church Take a step back and look at your congregation through the lenses of Vision, Faithfulness, Hope and Courage  Remember that there are people who are willing and able to help you do this.

24 Nfog and the New Church What Now? Know what resources are available and ask for those that are not yet Be in touch with your presbytery leadership and seek their guidance Talk with neighboring churches to see what is working Remember that you are not alone!

25 New Horizons in the Church NEXT Church is a movement in the PC(USA)  Comprised of innovators and leaders who have worked to push the boundaries on traditional church while remaining true to our Reformed heritage  Regional meetings will be held over the year  Next national meeting in Charlotte in 2013  Nextchurch2012.org (out of date but gives an idea of the group’s work)

26 Available nfog Resources Polity questions?  Stated Clerk TE Cathy Ulrich Pastoral Leadership  Committee on Ministry (TE Bill Bailey, Moderator) Congregational Development  CC&D Committee (TE Randi Henderson, Moderator) Presbytery in General  TE Bill Galbraith, General Presbyter nFOG Training  Various people are available for nFOG specific questions. Contact the presbytery office.

27 Congregational Visioning TE Michael Vinson  Presbytery Staff Michael is responsible for serving as presbytery resource person in several areas including the work of the CC&D Committee TE Robert Lowry and RE Catherine Lowry  The Lowry Group LLC  Robert Lowry is an ordained Teaching Elder and Catherine Lowry is an ordained Ruling Elder. Robert has worked on vision and discernment with congregations ranging from members in six states. Catherine has over 30 years of organizational consulting work in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. The General Assembly  Church Development and Redevelopment

28 End Matter This presentation, the accompanying materials and its contents are ©2012 by the Lowry Group LLC. Permission is granted for use in a non-commercial setting for the express purpose of training leaders in Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations and ministries in the Presbytery of Arkansas. Any use for commercial purposes without the express permission of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited.


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