Team on Ministry
Update from the Team on Ministry: This is the letter we recently sent to the Board.
Acting Team on Ministry
To give immediate support to Todd, our congregation and our Board.
To “try it out” for 6 months, then reflect on whether any changes are needed.
Those serving would then be eligible for a full regular term.
1. Work on our shared ministry
Be available to the minister, the Board and the congregation to hear ideas, suggestions or concerns about our shared ministry. Work to clarify our history and our governing documents when confusion arises about them. Reflect on our shared ministry – where it is working well and where it could be improved.
Relationship with the Minister – Usual practice is for the Team on Ministry to meet with the minister once a month.
Relationship with the Congregation – The Team on Ministry makes itself available to the congregation as often as it deems appropriate. Perhaps during this 6-month period, being available once a month after or between services might give the Team a better idea of how often they think this is needed.
Relationship with the Board – The Team on Ministry meets with the Board 3 times a year to discuss ministry, per our Policy Governance Document.
2. Ministerial Advisement
Effective ministry is rarely done in isolation, and as wonderful as Unitarian Universalist ministers (and other program staff) are, they rarely if ever have all of the knowledge and wisdom necessary for effective ministry in and beyond a congregation. Many ministers and congregations have long realized the benefit of having a team of experienced lay-leaders in the congregation who can be in discernment with the minister (or other program staff members) about their ministry.
Done well, the Ministerial Advisement role of a Team on Ministry can be a saving grace for a minister and the congregation alike. The Team on Ministry can be a source of congregational knowledge, history, and wisdom that a minister may not have. They can serve as a confidential “sounding board” for developments in the ministry, allowing the minister to receive feedback from a team of trusted lay-leaders on ideas, before they go to the congregation. This team can also provide healthy reflections upon the ministry, based on their own personal experience of the ministry, that can allow the minister to see more than their own perspective.
The question is not whether a minister has a need of a ministerial advisement team, but how formally the congregation wishes to meet this need. Most ministers find a few congregational lay-leaders whom they go to for advice and reflection. When it is done less formally however, the congregation has no voice in who these lay-leaders are, and their engagement with the minister is not directly accountable to the congregation itself. Having a Team on Ministry fulfill this role takes something that will happen informally and makes it a part of the congregation’s formal structure.
3. Conflict Engagement
In Unitarian Universalism, we invite people to care deeply about their congregation, and then recognize the “right of conscience and the use of the democratic process.” Conflict and disagreement is an inherent part of Unitarian Universalism, and therefore a core spiritual practice of our faith is learning to do conflict and disagreement well. And yet, doing conflict and disagreement well takes intentionality, growth, and differentiation. Many congregations have chosen to assign to their Team on Ministry the role of helping the congregation to live the spiritual practice of learning to engage conflict and disagreement well.
Teams on Ministry with the Conflict Engagement responsibility have the dual role of leading the development of good “muscles” for engaging conflict well in congregations, as well as developing and holding good process and patterns for the congregation during a time of conflict. This means more than times of congregational conflict with the congregation’s religious professionals, although engaging these kinds of conflicts are often the most visible. It could also mean helping individuals in the conflict engage in inter-personal conflicts and disagreements well, as well as seeing potential tensions in the congregation and finding ways for the congregation to engage those openly, honestly, and justly.
Of all of the roles a Team on Ministry may be called to play in a congregation, the Conflict Engagement role is one of the more challenging, and often the most rewarding. It takes intentionality for a congregation to learn to engage conflict well, and doing so is one of the most effective ways to live the commitments of our faith tradition.
Method for selecting members
The Team has 6 members, who serve 3-year terms with 2 rotating off each year. Half of the members are chosen by the Board, with the concurrence of the minister, and half by the minister, with the concurrence of the Board.
Obvious qualities for Team members are emotional maturity, ability to speak truth to power with love and clarity, trusted by the congregation, trusted by the minister, ability to maintain confidentiality.
It’s important to have a mix of people on the Team so that the minister, the Board and the congregation can hear different points of view. A variety of ages, sexes, church interests (RE, social justice, worship, etc.), belief systems, congregational history, and more, is important.