Bishop’s Notes – January 12, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Last week the Network Leaders, Mentors and NLT at Mount Carmel Retreat Centre in Niagara Falls for the annual training session.

The two main foci were to review again the “why” and “how” of the networks and to follow up on September’s missional church training.  As we worked through our time together, I became even more deeply convinced that if we can create safe and nourishing networks, and if network members will fully engage, there will be great benefits for each pastor and generally for the Free Methodist movement in Canada.  See some pics below.

My dream is that each pastor would have a network experience where four things are happening on an ongoing basis:

  1. They are experiencing transforming friendships with others and have at least one friend in the network with whom they can talk at deeper levels.
  2. They are learning in an adult learning environment where they engage discussions, find solutions for ministry challenges, and contribute out of their experiences.
  3. They are willingly accountable and able to be honest and transparent about failures and fears and get guidance and support from the group.
  4. They are making meaningful contributions to help others, especially newer and younger pastors, to develop spiritually as well as in ministry skills.

Accountability partners are another key part of the FMCIC’s plan for developing healthy, godly, competent pastoral leaders.  There’s a good description of who an accountability partner is, in Par 801 in The Manual, but let me give you a couple stories.

I heard recently about two of our pastors who were having trouble in an area of follow-through with regular physical exercise.  They now have a daily email check-in with each other, and as a result, they are both exercising regularly and experiencing the benefits that come from becoming more physically fit.

In my own experience, I really appreciate my accountability partner.  There have been seasons in my life where I have had to confess unhealthy attitudes and outlooks and ask for his “faithful are the wounds of a friend” speaking into my life.  On several instances, I have submitted to a daily email check-in for a few weeks with him on some deeper issues where I was not making progress.  It worked.

I say all this to say that I hope you are taking responsibility for appropriate self-care.  There are people who care deeply about us – our accountability partners, our networks, those on the boards to whom we report, etc., but if we do not open up with them or allow them to speak into our lives, we can become discouraged and, at weak moments, we are vulnerable to the enemy.

There are two announcements to make this week:  Sheldon Carlson has been appointed as Interim Pastor at Lakeside Community Church, Salmon Arm, BC, and Rick Hamilton has been appointed as Lead Pastor at Polson Park FMC, Kingston.  See the details below.

In closing, I realize that members of congregations also read these notes.  Please do everything you can to encourage your pastor these days.  At the same time, I want to thank the congregations across the FMCIC that willingly release their pastors to serve the movement as Network Leaders, Mentors, and as members of the Board of Administration, Ministerial Education, Guidance and Placement Committees, the Study Commission on Doctrine, and the Nominating Committee.  We appreciate the contributions that your pastor makes in these wider spheres of leadership.

Bishop Keith