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Council of Ministries and its Role in Stewardship Development
Fr. Steve Dalber, Saint Nektarios Church, Charlotte, NC
The Role of the Priest
The priest in this model is free to be priest; to oversee the work of the parish council and all of the ministries without having to try to micromanage every detail of every aspect of parish life. Above and beyond his liturgical duties, he is also freed to be a teacher, a spiritual guide, and a counselor to the community entrusted to him. By having regular Council of Ministries meetings where the priest encourages the efforts of all and reiterates the mission and vision, this system becomes self-policing. The entire ministry structure then has a natural tendency to evaluate itself against the mission and the vision which has been unanimously accepted by all.
The Role of the Parish Council
The parish council in this system is no longer one of a “bean counter” but rather one of ministry. The mission and vision of the community is what drives their ministry as well. Their decisions are no longer based on a matter of personal opinions, which cause egos to clash, but rather on the criteria of how well does it fit against the mission statement. Once again the acceptance of the mission statement is critical. The members of the parish council may serve in one or more of our 14 ministry teams. They do not lead a team. The vice president is responsible for the ministry team process and serves as the liaison to the board for the ministries lead by volunteers. Four of our ministries are lead by staff. (Since we adopted this system, we have never had a serious disagreement in a parish council meeting. There is healthy dialog and debating of issues to come to a consensus. There has never been a raising of voices except in laughter and a 100% consensus on just about every issue, because the emphasis is no longer about my opinion or your opinion, it now is upon; What is the best way to fulfill the mission of the Church. Also, the budget process now is driven by the ministry rather than the ministries being restricted by the budget.)
The Role of the Administrator
As ministries grow and multiply there is an increasing need for office support. The administrator, ideally a paid staff person, handles the financial record keeping and coordinates all of the logistical support for everyone, priest, parish council as well as the rest of the ministries. Processes are defined. Church operational policies become politically neutral. Communication among ministries is improved. Financial records are open and transparency is achieved. Again as the parish grows more paid staff will be needed to assist the administrator’s ministry. Volunteer staff is also instrumental in supporting the paid staff with “non-critical” work. Regular office hours are maintained to respond to the needs of our congregants.
The Role of the Community in General
The community’s role is to support the Church’s mission of time, talent (involvement in ministries) and treasure. It is the priest’s role to do his utmost to educate every parishioner as to the non-negotiable mission of the Church, and that by accepting salvation; we have also accepted the mission with which Jesus Christ has entrusted us. Once again making the mission clear is critical. In this system the task of teaching the mission is made much easier in that a significant number of those in the community are already members of the Council of Ministries and have already bought into the mission and are excited about making it successful.
A Note on Stewardship
Our community serves approximately 530 families. There are approximately 200+ people actively involved in the ministry process. When there are 200+ people in the community with a clear picture of what the church is here for and a vested interest in its’ success stewardship starts becoming a no-brainer. The community becomes its own teacher. The need is recognized, accepted and supported.
A Note on Festivals
While arguments can be made as to the good things a festival bring to a community; it is my humble and personal opinion (and experience) that they are counterproductive to the true ministry of the Church and for that reason counterproductive to stewardship. Furthermore I believe that it is an inefficient use time and talent (manpower) and has a tendency of making our community’s operations/ministries dependent upon “outside sources.”
For reasons mentioned above, the ministry structure is a continuous work in progress, constantly changing as our ministry and community involvement grows. This system has worked and continues to work for us. I hope that you will find something useful for your community in this information, and may God continue to bless His Church and His ministry always.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017; for more information also see Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Ministries.
As part of an on-going series on stewardship, OCN is pleased to share excerpts from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Stewardship Resources Handbook for 2017. This series hopes to assist your parish Stewardship team in getting started and planning a full year of Stewardship Ministry. The handbook contains guidelines for preparation of a parish Stewardship Program, updated letters, a sample commitment card and new member card, various campaign formats and ideas for parish stewardship ministry.
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