Find a Way To Say Yes

A Teaching Elder in our Presbytery shared with me last week that the nominating committee had left a couple messages “certainly asking me to serve.” I asked if they had mentioned anything specific. This person said, “No, but I think I’m going to say no. I think I have to.”

now-is-the-time-to-say-yes-imgI surprised myself when I quickly responded with, “You can’t.” (pause) “Not this year. You can’t say no this year.” And then, of course, I back peddled a little bit saying, “of course you can. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to tell you what to do. But honestly, we really need you to say yes this year. Say yes to something. Maybe not what they were asking but find a way to say yes.”

I pulled out my smart phone and looked up the working document that will be our new organizational chart for the presbytery and I started offering suggestions to this person.

adaptive-250x250The work that the Transition Task Force has been doing contains some fairly significant adaptive changes. The new organizational structure alongside the way we have already begun to do business will yield for us a streamlined business model. Within each committee or working group, there is ample room for self-definition, meaning teams can determine how they will work with one another. Teams will determine the workload various people can take/can’t take. Teams can and will determine work based on gifts and abilities.

Even for the committees that may have seemed daunting in the past (like CPM and the 30 some seminary students under our care) have been given tremendous freedom in our new plan of Presbytery to do business in new ways. Meet remotely? Check. Meet in subcommittees? Check. Report to Presbytery through video, blog, consent agenda? check. check. check.

The primary changes to the new Plan of Presbytery have been made with an understanding that we trust the people on committees or working groups to work on our behalf and in our best interest. The structure is open and transparent, allowing our leadership to be accessible to the whole and the whole to be accessible to the leadership.

This is the year that we need to find a way to say “yes” to one another. This is the year where we are honest about the gifts we have and we figure out a way to serve one another with those gifts.

9229-be-the-change-2560x1600-digital-art-wallpaperI’ll let you in on another conversation I had with yet another Teaching Elder. We were talking about how one of the needs on COM is for folks who have experience with difficult transitions that require hard conversations. Well this person has that experience but serving on COM has always seemed a bit too much. To reflections like this, I say again, “this is the year to say yes. Figure out how to say yes. Get on COM and help structure the committee the way that best works in your schedule and the best interest of the churches. This is the year where we are going to see those changes enacted.”

If you’re still reading – I’m not talking to someone else. I’m talking to you. This is the year that we need to find a way to say yes to one another. 

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. peter gregory says:

    I am happy I said yes.

    God does indeed have a sense of humor. In that I have tried my best at times to keep the Presbytery and myself, the church at arms length, but that phone keeps calling me. Given my military background and orientation concepts like duty, and honor tend to weigh heavy for me, so I find it hard to say no when asked. In the 3 cases i did say yes to Presbytery since 2008, Council, Ewing AC, and now CPOM I can honestly say service was and has been a blessings. Folks tend to ask how much combat time I did I serve, I respond with Panama, Bosnia-Serbia, Iraq (two tours) and Ewing AC. And as difficult as those days were for all concerned, the folks I served with were sincere, Godly Christian people, who tried to do the best we could in that situation. The outcome was not perfect for all, but I think we left the church and situation far better than we found it. Same applies to what I do now with CPOM, yes the work is at times in depth and requires a time commitment, but the end result is that we seek the best outcomes for all under our care, even though Nassau seems to crank them out on an assembly line. The business and agenda never attracted me, the quality of people serving is always the draw. I need not agree with all the clergy, TE, pastors or whatever we are calling ourselves these days, on matters of politics, theology or ideology. Nor they with me. But I have found such services enriching and stimulative. So It was good to say yes.

    Now I have gone on record in this blog stream in the past to say that for matters of economic efficiency and effectiveness NB should merge and consolidate with other regional presbyteries. Its not 1785 or 1955 for that matter anymore. And I have further gone on record saying that the so called Social Witness of the Presbytery is off the rails. But again if we only associate or serve or have dealings with those whom we agree with all the time and think the same way, that’s a very isolating and lonely existence. And there are good and valid reasons and times to say no, but I think left-right/liberal-conservative, there are far more times to say yes. .

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  2. peter gregory says:

    A pastor friend of mine who I have known for a long time asked me why don’t I just leave, knowing my views and opinions on and about the current state of all things PCUSA. Wouldn’t I be just happier in the ECO, EPC? Around folks who I would likely find more common ground with. Now many in the PCUSA have made such a conclusion. Departures to the ECO number about 350 churches to date, and the denomination will likely be under 1 million in 4 years. And all I am sure have good and valid reasons to make such judgements and I respect that. But I have concluded that its still my church just as much as anybody else’s, and if I made a habit of only associating with people who think, feel and have the same opinions as me how boring and how narrow and dull that would be. It is like someone who told me they were removing me from their Facebook account because they only wanted to deal with people who felt and had the same opinions as them. Again, one can choose to become more self-absorbed, closed and insular in their personal life,as many I think wish to do post election and all the vitriol of the season. But the more one only chooses to have social or professional contacts using either ideological or theological filters, a poor commentary personally and on the faith in general.

    And that is why I say yes, and will continue to do until no one asks me. My personal feelings is that within 5, 10 years the the lines of demarcation between the PCUSA, ECO, EPC, whatever alphabet soup of denominations will become somewhat more fluid and transparent than today, I hope. It’s either that or hunker down, circle the wagon, be stiffed neck and die. But that all depends on saying yes more so than no.

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