Whose Church Are We? Role of the SPRC

 Whose church are we?

Many times new pastors change dramatically the worship style or structure of the church served; at other times, they merely offer a new face to the same old roles played out through the memory of the church.  Sometimes a pastor brings an agenda to the church, and sometimes the pastor attempts to understand the gifts and vision of his or her congregation and to enrich them and channel them with his or her own.  But the church’s future is not solely dependent upon the vision of the pastor or lack thereof.

 In the United Methodist Church, the SPRC is a partner with the pastor in assessing strengths and weaknesses of the pastor, the staff and the church, clarifying their values, reflecting on and defining their mission, setting priorities, and mapping the course.  Both the pastor and the laity comprising the SPRC must be engaged cooperatively in active service to Christ, generally, and to the congregation and the community, specifically.

 Because this is a partnership, it is dynamic.  It is responsive to the gifts and needs of the congregation, of the staff, including the pastor, and of the community.  As each marriage will be unique, so pastoral service in different congregations will also be unique.  As in a marriage, successful unions of pastor and church will require mutual respect, recognition of unique gifts and needs, shared responsibility and cooperation in loving action.

 ¶258 2. of the Discipline provides duties of the SPRC which extend beyond mere employee management.  It calls each member of the SPRC to personal spiritual growth; to awareness and appreciation of Christ’s mission in love for all, of the congregation and of each staff member; to appreciate the gifts of each; and to provide an opportunity for each member and the community to share in the experience of Christ’s love and to share that love with others:

 1.    First they are exhorted to personal spiritual growth in preparation for church leadership: “People serving on this committee must be engaged in and attentive to their Christian spiritual development so as to give proper leadership in the responsibilities with which the committee is entrusted.”

2.    “[T]he committee shall identify and clarify its values for ministry.”

3.    It “shall engage in biblical and theological reflections on the mission of the church, the primary task, and ministries of the local church.”

4.    “The committee shall reflect biblically and theologically on the role and work of the pastor(s) and staff as they carry out their leadership responsibilities.”

5.    ”The committee shall assist the pastor(s) and staff in assessing their gifts and setting priorities for leadership and service.”

6.    “It is the responsibility of the committee to communicate with the committee on nominations and leadership development and/or the church council when there is a need for other leaders or for employed staff to perform in areas where utilization of the gifts of the pastor(s) and staff proves an inappropriate stewardship of time.”

7.    Other duties include:

a.    “[T]o promote unity in the church.”

b.    “To confer with and counsel the pastor(s) and staff on the matters pertaining to the effectiveness of ministry; relationships with the congregation; conditions that may impede the effectiveness of ministry; and to interpret the nature and function of the ministry.”

c.    “To confer with, consult, and counsel the pastor(s) and staff on matters pertaining to priorities in the use of gifts, skills, and time and priorities for the demands and effectiveness of the mission and ministry of the congregation.”

 What do we expect of our SPRC?  Of our pastors?  What do we expect of ourselves?  Do we honor, even appreciate, each other?  Does the love of Christ shine through us as a church to our community and into the world?  Do we show that love in acts of mercy, sharing, and peace with justice? 

Whose church are we?


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