I’ve responded to some questions from a church that I thought I would share here.
How do you see a solo pastor’s role regarding involvement in community ecumenical activities balancing with the primary task of shepherding a congregation?
I would explore this tension with the session and church folk. This tension between those in and out of the congregation is in every congregation. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple said over 100 years ago: ” The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”
One way I have addressed this tension is by discussing my activities, blessings, challenges, and action plans at session meetings in a written report and providing the report to the congregation. For in the moment sharing I have used social media to share where I am and what I’m doing. Various elders would support me in prayer and post comments as I visited someone, conducted a funeral service, volunteered, retreated in prayer or worked in my office.
Another way I have addressed this tension is by working on a narrative budget where there is no overhead only ministry in addition to working line item budget. Basically, presenting the budget showing how our budget serves the church’s great ends, which assigns the pastoral (and staff and building) expense to ministry activities.
A third way was to explore and determine priorities with congregation and session. I’ve used forced choice exercises and other activities to come to a common understanding of our life and ministry together.
I see the solo pastor’s role regarding involvement in all ministry being determined by accountability, transparency, multiple paths of feedback, discussion, shared priorities, and a willingness to learn and change; all under God’s grace and loving call to sacrifice and service.