St. Mark Lutheran Church, Worth, Illinois

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November Memo's (View / Download)

The Pastor's Pen

Dear St. Mark Family:

In a NUTSHELL your pastor, our nominating committee, and our church council  have agreed that a new form of church leadership called "Team Ministry" may be a great  option for our congregation to consider in the future.  Interested? Read on.

Polity: a structure or  form of organization, especially of a church.

The church has had many different kinds of polity in the last 2000 years. The earliest church of course was led by apostles, those who saw Jesus and who were chosen and sent out by Him.  Since then different denominations have adopted different forms of leadership.  The Roman Catholics have a Pope, Cardinals, bishops, and priests. The Presbyterians are defined as those who are led by presbyters (ie: Elders).  Baptist churches are typically led by two groups, a board of elders who oversee spiritual matters, and a board of deacons (from the Greek word for servant or minister) who oversee the nuts and bolts of everyday life in the church.  Congregational Churches have adopted a strictly democratic form of polity where the congregation makes every decision.  Quaker Churches make decisions only when every member of the congregation agrees. (I'm just guessing decisions made in Quaker churches are few and far between.)

There is no one "Biblically correct" polity for every church, but the Bible gives us freedom to use whatever form of organization/ structure/ polity is most helpful for us in carrying out the mission and ministry of our church.

As is true of many churches, our governing body at St. Mark is made up of a church council and committees.  This is an organizational model that came out of 15th century Germany and is essentially the same structure used today by our federal, state, and local governments.

While this organizational structure has served us well for many years, in our generation it also has some disadvantages.

1.     It  is becoming increasingly difficult to find  members with gifts for leadership who are willing to commit two years   of their time to meet both monthly as part of the council and  monthly as leaders of  a committee, in addition to the effort and hours involved in carrying out the plans and ministries  of  those groups. It is also difficult to find committee members. At St Mark we currently have 10 committees, 5 of which have 1 or fewer members.

2.      When people do commit to serve as council members and committee chairs they are required to meet for two years whether they accomplish anything or not.  

As a result the process of positive change can grind exceedingly s-l-o-w

3.     As we have learned from our government, the larger the governing body, the more likely it is that there will be disagreement,  arguments and  conflict. While we have grown to expect this in government, it can be very discouraging and demotivating in the church.

 "For God so loved the world that he didn't send a committee."

 A new model of church polity is emerging in many forward thinking  Lutheran  congregations. (For example Pastor PJ's church Alleluia in Naperville, Pastor Ronda's church Gloria Dei in Downers Grove, America's largest ELCA Lutheran Church  in Des Moines, and many others around the country.)

This new model is called "TEAM MINISTRY." A team might be defined as a group of people working together to accomplish a common goal. 

 Many groups and ministries at St. Mark already function as "teams" and have done so successfully for years.   Here are some examples of functioning team ministries at St. Mark.

  • Dartball team,
  • Monday morning counting team,
  • Auditing team
  • Praise Hymn worship team
  • Quilters group
  • Beds+ ministry to the homeless
  • Altar Guild
  • Kingdom Weekend teams
  • Serendipity Choir
  • Nominating committee
  • Drama ministry cast (eg: Godspel, Rebound for Glory, or the occasional skit for worship)
  • Rockers
  • Divine Dollars
  • Garden Ministry
  • Extended Ministry endowment fund
  • Anita Korenski Scholarship Committee
  • Prayer Chain

Teams (whether they are called teams, guilds, choirs, casts,  chains or even committees)  meet to accomplish a single goal, and then disband. For example the auditing team meets for a couple of days once a year, but only  until the job is done.  The Serendipity Choir meets weekly for 4 or so  practices until they are prepared to grace our worship service with their inspiring music at Christmas or Easter time. The Dart Ball team meets weekly to practice and compete until the season is over, usually fall through winter.  The Kingdom Team meets weekly for 6 weeks, puts on the Kingdom Retreat and then disbands once the goal is accomplished.  The counting team, because of the very nature of the task, will continue to meet every Monday or until people stop giving to God through this church.  The length and type of service all depends on the nature of the ministry task. Advantages of team ministry include:

1.It is much easier to  find  a gifted member  to work on a short term goal,  than it is to find someone to commit to an open and unknown  agenda   for two years.

2. Humanly speaking, because members agree to serve only until their goal is reached, team members are motivated to accomplish their task as quickly, and efficiently as possible.

3. A smaller council is much more likely to have fewer diverging and conflicting opinions.

My hope as your pastor is that together we will move in the direction of team ministry at St. Mark. Please think and pray about these things.

                                      Your brother in Christ,


                                            Pastor Jay

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