...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interesting Formula for Clergy Effectiveness?

A couple of years ago, the seminary president stated his case for measuring clergy effectiveness. He put it simply as something like:

Statistical growth X Personal spirituality = effectiveness
-OR-
Fruitfulness x Faithfulness = effectiveness

This, he suggested, is how we measure our job success. In this scenario, effectiveness is a multiple of numbers and spirituality.

A good bit of this is the assembly line model of ministry management inherited from the previous century. It leaves me empty and uninspired. And it doesn't seem to hold up to Eugene Peterson's still prophetic attack of the clergy success syndrome in Working the Angles. That was the 1980's. Where are the prophets of clergy spiritual dearth today? The grad-grinds of effectiveness, using their graphs and charts to substantiate numbers, have clearly won the day.

Pastor as spiritual guide or healer takes an easy back seat when I need to prove myself. No surprise that stuff like personal health, well-being, balance, relationships, sanity, and sabbath also take a back seat. The current race to find and equip younger clergy? Younger clergy are cheaper for local churches, and denominations don't have to worry about paying their pensions for many years.

Older clergy, though, can bring a discernment and wisdom and spirituality- all the stuff that the years have taught us, if we let them. That includes seeing the numbers in perspective. But the church that values the ecclesiastical equivalent of assembly-line efficiency, calling it effectiveness, has very limited time and space for a wounded healer, so, no thanks, Henri Nouwen! We need more and younger bodies to feed the process. More food for the fodder.

Such is the problem with the business model. When we have to prove we're doing it, like the state exams for school children, we focus not on true vocation and gifts, but on standardization with all things being equal. But all things are not equal.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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