Wait. You want to do what?
Hear me out. What would happen if we utilize our Conference Deans for more than convening our monthly conference meetings? Our Conferences and Deans could do much of what the Bishop Associates do today regarding pastoral vacancies, one-to-ones with new pastors, installations, anniversaries as well as other parochial responsibilities.
What would happen if we contract trained mediators, HR specialists, and church systems specialists (think of models like Church Innovations and Bridge builders) to manage the inevitable church conflict that arises in ministry? There are a great number of exceptional and experienced mediators, organizational and human resource professionals in our synod who are waiting to be of service.
Let’s form a Council of Pastors Emeriti who walk with our youth in ministry discernment, mentor newly ordained clergy, relate to seminaries, and do pastoral visits to other retired and aging clergy/clergy spouses. The wealth of experiences of our retired/soon to be retired Pastors is an untapped resource.
How much time would that shake loose in the life of a busy Bishop and Bishop Associate?
Our Bishop and Bishop Associates are very busy, work very hard and are very dedicated. Imagine what we could do in service to the Body of Christ if more of their best energy and effort were focused on growing the churches of this synod and getting all of us to work together. Congregationally-focused, servant leadership would accomplish just that. Let the church call our Bishop and Associates to connect their synodical work to brick and mortar mission outposts, developing Christian community and synodical partnerships, advocating for just and healthy neighborhoods, pointing to and showcasing the good that is already happening in our synod, and be a living, visible example to our synod of what happens when we work together.
“It is not right that we should have to neglect preaching the Word of God in order to look after the accounts. You, our brothers and sisters, must look round and pick out from your number seven of good reputation who are both practical and spiritually-minded and we will put them in charge of this matter. Then we shall devote ourselves whole-heartedly to prayer and ministry of the Word.” Acts 6:1-4