Changes Foreseen

change_management.jpgThe Transition Task Force met last Saturday, July 16 to continue fashioning a “clear structure for our future.”  This is one of the task force’s six goals. 

Just as the former Book of Order included specific instruction, so did our former Plan of Presbytery. We have found with nFOG (the New Form of Government of the PCUSA), we have been given trust, freedom and agility to work within our context and time. One might say we have used nFOG as a lens. We want our new structure to give our work here in central NJ trust, freedom and agility. And along the way, we are always thinking about how much change is needed and how the specific culture of our Presbytery will meet and adjust to change.

There are two cultural changes that we see coming in our future: 

First, not all of our work will be done by a standing committee of the Presbytery. In other words, we will not keep all of the standing committees we once had. And yet we imagine some of the work of the standing committees will remain active by faithful presbyters. What does this mean?

Before we entered into this intentional transition period (January 2015-December 2016), we were discerning ways to do our work with more agility. One constructive idea was that “working teams” could form so long as 1 Teaching Elder from a congregation, 1 Teaching Elder from a specialized ministry and 2 Ruling Elders from two different congregations were part of the team. This idea seems not only agile but highly connectional. Rather than the nominating committee fill the working teams, the validation of the working team will come from the work itself and the connectionalism of the membership of the team. A great example of such a working team is the current Social Witness committee.

Second, we are going to have to adjust days and times of our stated Presbytery meetings. We’ve already tried out a Saturday meeting (which allows attendance by some who cannot make night meetings, allows others the opportunity to share the meal together because while they can make the meeting, dinner is too early and of course it allows us some flexibility to offer different kinds of programming.) But in addition to Saturday meetings, we anticipate small time changes to the Tuesday evening agenda.

For example, as we look to our September 13 meeting hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro and the Princeton Korean Presbyterian Church, we will try this schedule:

5:30pm          Dinner – this is a change of 15 minutes earlier than it used to be

6:30pm          Worship – we have included updates on ministry and mission during worship at the last few Presbytery meetings and hope to continue this type of reflective, thankful, prayerful reporting

7:30pm          Equip/ Empower Segment – this is a change of an additional element to what the meetings used to be

8:15pm           Business – this is a change in that we will continue to do our business in one hour. The cultural shift here is that information is given ahead of time and we commit to reading the information ahead of time.

9:15-9:30pm We have 15 extra minutes, just in case we need them.

These imagined changes produce questions of viability, anxiety about how we will get our work done, and stress about letting go of things we have always done so that we can begin doing what we need to do in our context at this time.

Talk to us – what do you think of the changes we have planned and are imagining in the future? Do you have a better idea for the Tuesday evening schedule that we could think about trying in 2017? How would you like to see the Task Force help our Presbytery manage the needed changes?

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. peter gregory says:

    PNB in terms of the clergy/TE, whatever we are calling ourselves these days, has five different constituencies, each on different work schedules, expectations and desired outcomes in terms of meeting times and structure. In terms of largest to smaller blocks you have HR, Specialized placements, specialized ministries and I include PTS faculty and staff, church or parish based clergy, clergy in transition, unemployed, doing something else ,waiting for a call, and finally bi-vocational, lay cohorts. It is hard if not impossible to find an ideal time of day/time/week to accommodate all. I think you just need to schedule the meetings as best as possible and run it up the flagpole and see who salutes. Though my observations PNB is clergy rich and RE poor in terms of by ins and commitments, you need to reengage that block or interest group.

    As far as meetings times for “business”. When I came to this church I heard horror stories of 5 hour session meetings and some going past midnight. I made a simple statement my first meting. I said a church our size should get though all business in 90 minutes, max. And if not I am leaving at 8:30PM for a 7PM start. At 8:30PM I got up and walked out of the meeting and went home. All were on board with the new program next meeting, My Session meetings are 90 minutes max. 30 minutes prayer/devotional, 60 business. And we go home.

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