Monday, September 19, 2011

Troublemaker Series: #2 Probation for Consignors, Church Members, & Clergy

Forgive me as I'm still dealing with consignment sale "clean up" both figuratively and literally.

The consignment sale reminds me again that a recurring issue with a crowd is that folk don't follow directions.

Yes, there is a learning curve if you are a new consignor, but that's not usually the problem area. Typically it's the consignors or volunteers who've been with us for awhile that want to make up new rules so we accommodate their desires. They feel experienced, knowledgeable, and privileged. When you have 250-300 consignors you can see where these EXTENDED conversations and this Pandora's Box can lead. So, there are some consignors and volunteers that we must say, "You've broken a more serious rule or failed to abide by the agreement, thus you are on probation the next sale until you can follow the guidelines."

It's odd how people think any other group or organization can have rules and a probation status, but that it's not appropriate for a church. The church walks that tightrope of having expectations yet extending grace and redemption.

For clergy there is a structure, at least in the United Methodist Church through annual conference life, with expectations through supervision (District Superintendent), for accountability through clergy order, Board of Ordained Ministry, and with Bishop and cabinet of DS's.

For laity there is opportunity through accountability groups, more serious Bible studies or prayer groups, and through spiritual guidance with a mentor, clergy, or someone who can be a help in one's spiritual life.

Putting a consignor who's out of line on probation is somewhat easy, and clergy can also be put "on probation," but imagine what this might look like for laity. A friend was talking with me at church recently and said he wished, "I had a report card or something from God to know how I'm doing!" Would we really want to know?! And if we weren't doing so well how would we handle being on probation!?

What does it look like to have good accountability in the Church for clergy and laity? How can we do this in ways that help people grow in relationship and dependence upon God and one another and not devolve into a simple "churching" of folk who we've caught breaking a rule of the community of faith? How can we help each other to "know how we are doing with God" and encourage one another to do even better for the next report card?

No comments: