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Parish Ministry and Administration 101: “The Dash Between the Nitty and the Gritty”
The Dash Between the Nitty and the Gritty in Parish Ministry is for experienced pastors who are still learning their way and for people who "might" consider parish ministry if they knew what the job was. Here you will write an honest job description for yourself that will or could pattern your days. In your self-differentiated job description, you will include the challenging surprises, like who knew you had to wait that long at the mental hospital to see someone and the magnificent ones, like did she really use your sermon to tell her boss where to go. You will learn how to show others what you do. You will learn how to resist projections and how to have a "life." You will get over the joke that you "only work on Sundays." And you will leave loving the arts and tasks of parish ministry.
Monday, June 24 through Friday, June 28, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Pastoral Care: Wellness Calling. Developing a strategy for regular care of the congregation, which anticipates crisis and develops ongoing relationship with people. When trouble happens, you already know the person or family. In a congregation of 200 members, it is easy to visit five per week over the year. What matters are the number you will visit and how wellness is your objective. Crisis management is NOT pastoral care; wellness care is. Your job is not to put out fires or manage trouble but to start fires and ignite spiritual energy. Your job is to heal and be present as an ongoing sign of God.
Funerals. Hands on How To, including how to learn the culture of your congregation, whether you get paid, how to handle the additional staff.
Baptisms. Hands on How To, including how to learn the culture of your congregation.
Weddings. Hands on How To, for members and non-members, mixed marriages and serial divorces
Encouraging New Members: How to be in Charge of the Campaign and not take “Growth” on as your responsibility but to share it.
When Conflict Erupts Interpersonally: Learning to be Glad at the Eruption of Conflict because it means growth, change and engagement
Board Care and Development: Why Administration is Holy and learning how to love it. Governance matters! It is a holy task to which we are also ordained. Learning how to raise money and ask for it as well as how to manage staff and volunteers.
Written Materials, Self and Congregational Promotion
Web, newsletter, bulletins. Stewardship Spiritually Reconsidered for Practical Success.
An Incarnational attitude towards parish administration shows how sacred the ordinary really is.
When Task Force, When Committee? A Permission Giving Method of Ministry. How to avoid having to go to lots of meaningless meetings and how to always know what you want when you do go to a meeting. Learning how to keep meetings to one hour.
When Conflict Erupt Institutionally: Learning to be Glad at the Eruption of Conflict because it means growth, change and engagement
The Pastor as Person
Boundaries. Theologically and spiritually analyzing the now cliché of “boundaries” and getting practice in how to have them without overdoing it. Sexuality is NOT the only boundary issue. Boundary issues include time, money, conflict and self-definition, knowing where you stop and the “other” starts. Boundary issues involve the whole range of what it means to be human, one who embodies Jesus but is also not Jesus.
Praise and Criticism – about your clothes or your life. When to put on the bulletproof vest and when to take it off.
The Pastor’s Partner. Expectations, yours and the parish’s. How to negotiate agreement and train the congregation to understand what you and your family want and need, will do and won’t do.
The Pastor’s Children. Expectations, yours and the parish’s. How to negotiate agreement.
The Pastor’s Work Week
Sabbath keeping. When does the Pastor worship?
Salary, benefit and housing negotiations. The Pastor’s Salary: How to get Paid Well over Time, Sabbaticals, Vacations, Study Leaves. Tax breaks, housing, work outside the parish.
The Art of the Ask for you and for the congregation: Raising Money, Energy, Involvement, and Commitment. Whose money is it anyway? Money is just energy in exchange – and getting to see it as something that is not dirty but potentially holy will inform this part of the course.
Learning how to Quantify and Measure: Parish Assessment and Self-Assessments
Learning how much things really cost, especially how much “crisis” costs.
How to value the right interruptions and to ignore the others.
Creating Budgets for Time and Money: Learning how to live in the Black, not the red.
Parishes in the 21st Century: What’s new, what’s not.
Generational Differences: Space Issues, “Dedowdyization” of the parish space.
Green Uses of Large Buildings: Multiple Uses and How to make “Owners” comfortable with Guests and Guests Comfortable with Owners
Post Modernism, Interfaith, and Mixed Couples: Who is Normal in Which kind of Congregation
Race, Sex, Class, Ability, Orientation: How these things affect a parish’s life and how to gain diversity without losing the gifts of folk and homogeneous culture.
How Public Ministry matters to a Parochial Institution
Using Technology, even if you aren’t an expert. Finding the experts and asking for help.
Eschatology: How is the Then of God’s time already present here in the Now?
A Job Description and daily, weekly and annual plan for doing it. For the employed pastor, this would be real, not virtual, and ready for negotiation with the congregation upon return. The job description should give a theological as well as a practical rationale.
An Ideal Job description for the Seminarian, allowing the seminarian to define what kind of call he/ she is seeking.
Each of these documents would include dialogue with five of the assigned readings, showing how they relate to the particular culture of the congregation being described.
Job descriptions would be no more than two pages; the final paper would be five. These would both be due one month after the course ends, by email, to the instructor.
Please note that this course is based on experiential learning and uses that model for learning. It is in the practical theology field.
Letter grades will be given upon completion of the final papers. Each paper must show that the five assigned readings were done and will be judged for clarity and manageability of the job definition in its particular context. Attendance at all sessions is assumed; no absences without express permission of the instructor.
Class participation will be 50% of the grade.
Attendance will be 10% of the grade.
The final paper will be 40% of the grade.
All assignments are due one month after the course ends to the instructor by email. Incompletes will be offered after that date or by negotiation with the instructor.
Plagiarism policy for the class can be found on the institution’s website. ESL policy is also consistent with that of the institution.
Internet use is permitted in the classroom as long as it is not disruptive to class discussion.
Students will choose five selections with professor’s guidance, one per day and for final paper.
Diana Butler Bass, Practicing Congregations, Imaging a New Old Church. ISBN-10: 1566993059, ISBN-13: 978-1566993050
Donna Schaper, Altar Call:
Gaining Commitment in Congregations to MissionInviting Response to the Gospel, ISBN-10: 068709142X, ISBN-13: 978-0687091423
N. Lynn Westfield, Dear Sisters: A Womanist Practice of Hospitality. ISBN-10: 0829814493, ISBN-13: 9780829814491
Patricia O’Connell and John de Ber, The Art of Theological Reflection. ISBN-10: 0824514017, ISBN-13: 9780824514013
James and Evelyn Whitehead, Methods in Ministry. ISBN: 1-55612-806-1
Susan Farnham et.al. Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community, ISBN-10: 0-8192-1563-5, ISBN-13: 978-0-8192-1563-5
Parker Palmer, Let your Life Speak. ISBN: 0787947350
Yale Divinity School, Reflections Magazine, “How Firm a Foundation? Churches face the future.” Fall 2009
Mary Lou Gifford, The Turnaround Church. ISBN: 1566993938
Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A memoir of Faith, ISBN: 0061748331
Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, ISBN: 0787947350
Lowell Livezey, Public Religion and Urban Transformation: Faith in the City, ISBN: 081475158X
Kathleen Talvacchia. Critical Minds Discerning Hearts: A Spirituality of Multicultural Teaching. ISBN: 0827204914
Martin Copenhaver and Lillian Daniel, This Odd and Wondrous Calling, ISBN-10: 0802864759, ISBN-13 9780802864758
Martin Copenhaver, “When the Pastor Faces Criticism”, Christian Century, April 2009.
Poet in Residence: Listening for the Sacred Subtext by Craig Barnes, Christian Century, February 10, 2009.
Imagination and the Pastoral Life: A way of seeing by Craig Dykstra, Christian Century, April 8, 2008.
Conflict Intensity Chart: A Resource for Committees on the Ministry, Presbyterian Church, USA.
Assorted Articles about Not for Profit Leadership, The Role of Lay People and the Myth of the Associate Pastor by Donna Schaper in Alban Institute’s Congregations.