Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Generate Energy

(blogger's note: As I finish this post I am OUT of energy. I am in Hawaii with my wife and daughter -- our son is still in college is Seattle. Today we spent 3 hours snorkeling and then my daugher and I had a 2 hour surfing lesson. I am exhausted and ache from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I need energy!)

“Extreme Leaders generate energy but a few tacos will do in a pinch…”

-Steve Farber, The Radical Leap,” page 71.

Presbyterians have been called “the frozen chosen.” There is some truth to this nick-name. A glacier moves faster than the PCUSA. A glacier fears no rock or geologic formation. The glacier will gradually grind away at that which stands in its path. The only thing a glacier fears (that is if ice can “fear”) is heat/energy. Heat/energy melts the glacier! No wonder the PCUSA fears large, growing churches. Large, growing, churches are led by charismatic, strong pastors. These pastors have vision and can motivate the masses. Extreme Leaders can melt the frozen chosen! This can only be accomplished by generating energy—God inspired energy!

Where do I get my energy charged up? Where do you? If it isn’t at the filling station of the presence of God then we are using the wrong energy source. My frozen heart and life can only be melted by sitting at the feet of Christ and experiencing his LOVE. This love-inspired energy transforms you & me, the churches we serve and the world in which we live.

There are things that suck God’s energy from us. What sucks the energy from you may be very different from the things that suck the energy from me. Farber says that we should, “purge the suckers.” We need to get rid of energy suckers! Energy suckers are those “unnecessary, time-consuming, bureaucratic policies and procedures that suck our energy.” Churches are filled with energy suckers. What can we do to get rid of those energy suckers?

Here are some energy suckers that I have reduced or eliminated (note: some of you may feel that I am not being a “good Presbyterian” with what I am about to say):

  • I don’t go to Presbytery meetings unless there is something of substance that is going to happen there. I can READ. I do not need to have report after report READ to me. Can what happens at a Presbytery meeting change the world? You bet. But it generally doesn’t. It barely keeps people awake. There is seldom anything that generates energy or excitement for me or my church at a Presbytery meeting. The five hours (or more) that a Presbytery meeting requires can never be recovered. There are important meetings—those I attend! I have purged Presbytery meetings that are a waste of time (note: the leadership at my church knows and supports my stance on Presbytery meetings.).
  • Committee meetings are generally a sucker of energy. A monthly meeting for the sake of meeting is a waste of time. Our church has gone to task oriented work groups (task forces) to carry out most of our ministry. These are very specific in their purpose. They are empowered people to initiate and implement. Eliminate as many committee meetings as possible. After all, a committee is where you send an idea that you want killed!
  • Being spread too thin is an energy sucker. Churches are masters at this. Many churches send the message that the pastor is to be at every meeting/gathering that happens in the church’s life. Every year our church’s Women’s Association has an end-of-the-year luncheon. It is always on my day off (Friday). I NEVER get two days off in a row. I work six days a week—every week—and seven days on some weeks. This is just to get the things done that need to be done. I have begun to reduce the number of things that I attend. Being spread too thin is an energy sucker. Churches can suck the energy out of the people who attend the church. The same people show up and are involved in EVERYTHING. Focusing their energy would much more to be accomplished. We need to encourage people to be focused in their ministry efforts to keep from being spread too thin.
  • I won’t serve on another Presbytery committee unless it is focus on changing the world! I have served on Committee on Ministry (even as moderator), General Counsel, Long Range Planning Committee, Session Records Committee and Camping Committee (to name a few). The bureaucracy sucks the life out of our denomination.
  • Failure to DECIDE ONCE AND FOR ALL about ordination standards SUCKS the life out of the PCUSA. It is killing the church. Decide one way or another and then leave it alone. If people leave—they leave (and I may be one of them). What remains will be healthier.

The Church/church needs Extreme Leaders that generate Godly energy. We can change the world!

What are the “energy suckers” in your life and church? What do you think are the “energy suckers” in the PCUSA?


At 5:43 AM , Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

I agree with your list of energy suckers. That's why the presbytery meeting I attended Tuesday (see my blog post) was an incredible breath of fresh air--it had NONE of those things.

I'd add that in my particular church a big energy sucker is a lack of overall direction--too many little fiefdoms.

In the PCUSA the controversial pronouncements of officials and committees on international and national politics is also a big energy sucker.

At 7:22 AM , Blogger islandpreacha said...

I do faithfully attend presbytery meetings and serve on committees but I can totally share your frustration with how the meetings typcially run. Booooooooring. I have a hard time ginning up a lot of enthusiasm with my elders to go bc I find them so uninspiring. Although to be fair there are some high points every now and then.

Our stats from the last presbytery meeting were that appx 35 ministers in attendance, 7 excused absence, 35 ministers absent without excuse. I mean this is really lame numbers!

An elder friend of mine that works in the development field makes a great point that at all her events with donors/volunteers her staff goes out of its way to make things enjoyable, meaningful, even goofy an d fun. She wants the people who support her organization and mission to always go away feeling great about what they are doing. Too bad our presbyteries can't learn from that model.


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