Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tips for participating in Minister's Associations

Minister's Associations make more sense in a rural setting where there's little utility or return in duplicating things such providing emergency welfare or putting on big community events such as Carols by Candlelight by yourself. They are peculiar because apart from geography there is little in common, people pray differently, express themselves differently and minister to congregations from different traditions and no one person is in charge. So what are some tips for an evangelical in this setting?

  • They're good for making connections with other ministers
  • Some things can't be duplicated very effectively, especially if you're a small congregation
  • Be polite and positive
  • Use simple clear language, yes you're speaking to other Christians but they often have vastly different ways of expressing things to you
  • Be assertive without being annoying, no one is charge which means you have to speak up but the group doesn't like any one person to take charge
  • Meet with ministers individually outside the meetings
  • Find a way to describe your involvement that doesn't descend into ecumencialism but doesn't disparage the co-operation: "the minister's association is a positive and useful gathering of resources and encouragement" 
  • Like with any pastoral or theological conflict, be like Hannibal and choose the time and place of battle when the conditions are favorable, especially since unlike your congregation the stakes are lower
  • Send out attachments in PDF (not everyone has Microsoft publisher)
  • Send out an agenda several days before the meeting
  • Choose a devotion that reflects your own priorities or background
  • Try to attend most meetings but don't feel bad about missing a few, but send your apologies 
  • Don't gossip about the other ministers, especially in a small town
  • Don't be shy about identifying factions