Dear Friends Leading in and through our United Methodist Church,
Thank you for standing up and speaking up as a leader. Your passion for Christ and for those whom Christ love is a wonderful gift to our communities through our churches. Especially in this very difficult time.
In her book, Strengthening to Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, Ruth Haley Barton* says, “Leadership that functions creatively and spiritually in the midst of paradox is not for the faint of heart.”
We are learning that lesson well as our United Methodist Church struggles to understand, process and lead forward following General Conference. And yet, we do not have the luxury of stopping the clock or pausing ministry for us to catch our breath. What we do have is an integral need for strong, Spirit-focused leadership. Right Now.
As we engage in the work of providing that leadership, I hope we will remember we have answered a call to be spiritual leaders. As such, finding and taking the time to stay connected to God, rooted in God’s presence and deeply aware of the peace that passes all of our own understanding is critical.
Our number one responsibility as leaders is to make time to be in the presence of God.
In addition to that, some best practices for helping others live in the paradox of this time include focusing on:
COMMUNICATION: In times of hurt and unrest, there is no such thing as too much communication. Please use information from an official UMC site (either INUMC.org or UMC.org) to explain what has happened as well what is coming. Clear, correct information is critical as misunderstanding is easy. All of the resources on those sites can be shared.
Our Conference Superintendents are providing an opportunity for clarity about what has happened, what is next as well as help for processing that information in an area near you. More information on post-General Conference conversations to be shared soon.
PERMISSION: Make space for and give permission for story-telling. The next few weeks are optimal times for listening to one another. Practicing active, engaged listening helps those who are sharing know others value their story, which helps them move forward.
In addition to the gathering times mentioned above, this is a critical time to speak with and listen to our emerging leaders. Children and youth of all ages are hearing about their church, sometimes in very negative ways. The adults who work with them are struggling to find the best way to explain what’s going on with our UMC. You can lead forward by having conversations with emerging leader leadership and those they lead.
If you would like assistance in working on a plan for how best to do this, contact Emily Krach at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emily is our Associate Director of Leadership Development specializing in equipping those who equip emerging leaders.
MEDIATION: Conflict is a normal part of all churches, just like it’s a healthy part of all families. And, just like with families, sometimes the conflict can be expressed in unhealthy ways. Our churches depend on us to know when we need assistance to resolve organizational differences.
If you would like assistance with or training in conflict management, please contact me or your Conference Superintendent. You can reach me at email@example.com.
As we lead forward together, remember, you are NOT alone.
Blessings as you lead,
Director of Leadership Development,
Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church
*Barton will be our keynote speaker on Tuesday, March 26 at Life Together. All are invited to come and learn with her.