Challenged to Re-think Our Vision for Ministry

November 01, 2012

By the Rev. Greg Bergquist
CA-NV Conference Superintendent for Leadership Development

Last week, 70 clergy and laity from 35 churches came together to explore the leadership challenges facing our churches and communities. The Rev. Doug Anderson, executive director of the Rueben Job Center for Leadership Development, facilitated an inspiring presentation and lively discussion regarding the unique postmodern context in which we are called to serve in the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
 
He challenged us to re-think and re-draw our vision for ministry and to re-invent the systems that support our mission, remembering that "systems produce what they are designed to produce. So, if we don't like the current product, we must change the system."
 
As we live and work in this time of transition from a modern to a postmodern world, however, we are forced to deal with at least two different worldviews in our churches and communities. For some, the heart of change is still a think, analyze process; while, for others, it is a see, feel experience. So we are called into communities that are in the middle of a significant shift of identity: from rational to experiential, from representational to participatory, from word-based to image-driven, and from individual connectedness to communal experience. 
 
We spent our two days together confronting this challenge: understanding where our churches and Conference were located in this life cycle of change; brainstorming ways to lead during this time of change, while managing the transition – "finding our way through the wilderness and into the promised land" – and discussing the importance of the small group experience and leadership development for both clergy and laity in the midst of this change and transition.
 
We left inspired and challenged by our time together. Doug reminded us that, yes, events such as this one inspire – but it is only in the hard work of changing the processes of ministry and mission in our Conference, church, and community in which transformation is realized.
 
So there is much more to come.