Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Wanted the Church to Slow Down! A Lesson in Church Leadership

It looks like my congregation is finally coming to the end of a year long journey. The Trustees should all sign the correct paperwork today and with that we have consolidated some loans, got some money to redo the sanctuary roof and finally and officially become incorporated.

It has been 'fun' but now that I can see some light at the end of the tunnel it is exciting as well. Our church had two loans, the parsonage mortgage and a line of credit they took out for church improvements. The interest rates on these two loans were crazy, one at 8.5% and another at 9%+. Going through the United Methodist Foundation we are now consolidating those loans into one at 4%. How awesome is that! Now we can get out debt twice as fast!

For some in my congregation though it has seem like a very, VERY slow process. Last February we decided that the roof was the number one priority of the church and so we launched a Capital Campaign in May for the roof and debt, figured out what the roofing needs were and picked everything out from the construction company to the shingles, went through a pile of paper work to be accepted by the UM Foundation and now even more paperwork now that the loan is becoming final. I know to the outside world it seems slow but when compared to my last congregation this is lightening fast.

The last building project I suggested took almost 6 years to get completed and I was only there for 4 of those years. The church can move in slow motion but it is moving. Church work can be slow but at least we are moving forward.

I was pushed in the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership to identify places where you need to get up on the balcony and see what is happening on the dance floor. As this new project started I new this was a place to get up on the balcony. In March of 09, one of the worst economic times in our history, I didn't feel we were ready to launch a Capital Campaign. I was too worried about making our budget, let alone raising money for other things, although needed. If I had my way we would have been launching the campaign now. But that would have meant waiting on the new roof.

When it comes to new things in the church, I am a tortoise. I like to take it slow, plan it out, get ducks in a row, and launch with passion and enthusiasm. When I was up on the balcony though I saw that my leadership was not needed here. There were others with passion and enthusiasm and they saw the immediate need of the situation. Instead of getting up and leading a marathon from the front, I stepped back and led this year long sprint from behind.

A year later, when I would have been leading a Capital Campaign. Instead we are weeks away from a new roof, a new lower APR loan, and a congregation that raised enough money to pay for the roof and put a dent into our debt. Glad I got out of the way!


Erin G said...

cool story. once when I got frustrated at the painstakingly slow process of a church steering committee, my pastor told me it was more important to be effective than efficient. it's a lesson I'm still learning. sounds like you have it down pat. :)

Unknown said...

Down experience on the subject YES!