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Where Do We Go From Here? New "Wineskins" for a church on the grow!

In the second chapter of Mark, Jesus talks about the importance of putting new wine into new wineskins. Putting new wine into old wineskins, he warns, can eventually cause the old container to burst. This spiritual wisdom is with me heavy right now because God is pouring new wine in our direction!

With a brand new year and decade before us, I believe that now is the time to experiment with a different way to organize Pleasant Hope Baptist Church so that we can better benefit from the collective power of God within us and reflect that to others as well.

It's not just the calendar that's urging me to consider new "wineskins" for our church, but it's also the fact that we have some pretty significant leadership transitions on the near horizon. On December 31st of this year and after laudable service in their roles, both the Chairman of the Diaconate and Trustee Ministries will be stepping down from their positions.

For those that don't know, the governing body of Pleasant Hope is called the Joint Board. It's made up of the Pastor, Deacons and Trustees. We are entrusted by the congregation to meet on a monthly basis to discuss pressing matters of the church and make decisions related to the spiritual health of the church, finances, contracts, congregational care and so much more.

It presents a challenge to have both of the Chairs of these ministries stepping down at the same time and what further complicates the challenge is that other members of these ministries are not in a position yet to jump right into the current structure and lead it.

In addition to the Diaconate and Trustee ministries, other ministries of the church as well are in varying stages of transition or have people at the helm that are still learning how to organize their team and time to lead consistently well. Some might look at this dynamic like everything is falling apart. However, I choose to see it like things are coming together!

In fact, I believe that these shifts with individuals in leadership is an invitation for the church to shift in how it's structured so that we can experience sustainable vitality and vibrancy.

There are a few ideas that I'm praying about right now in relation to this that I want to share:

1. Pray with me about how we can further decentralize key operations of the church. We have a strong Chairperson model of ministry and top-down hierarchical structure. I'm praying about ways that we can have more of a co-op structure at Pleasant Hope and am ready to do my part to make sure that the bylaws, church finances and whatever else can support that.

2. Pray with me about ways to systematize leadership development at Pleasant Hope. We have a ton of people with a heart to help around our church, but not always the skill set or competency to do the job in a way that is needed. How can we systematically help people to become stronger?

3. Pray with me about how to better utilize the expertise of the brilliant and busy people of our church. We have people in our church family that are moving mountains in their professional life, but often don't feel that they have energy, time, or space to lend to leadership roles in ministry. How can we change this?

4. Pray with me about the interim structure that we may need to put in place to give us time to listen, pray, study, learn and reconfigure. Good things take time. We don't need to rush to put everything together by January 1. What can our "in the meantime" structure look like?

5. Pray with me concerning the 2020 church budget. Inviting the kinds of shifts and systemic reconfigurations that we're talking about will no doubt have ministry implications. How should we allocate church funds so that it aligns with our vision, values, and most exciting and sound ideas for the emerging horizon?

As strange as this might sound, I'm just as excited about this as I am about the great things that are happening in the life of our ministry right now. We have a very unique identity in the city of Baltimore and the nation. The blossoming that I see in the coming months for us is not a call to be a different kind of church altogether, but rather to be more of who we've always been as a congregation.

It's in our heritage that Pleasant Hope was the church that other churches came to in order to learn and grow. People like Sister Ruth Nicholson, Deaconess Vashti Edge and so many others have taught generations of church leaders over the years and helped our church earn the stamp of being the educators and innovators.

Now it's time for us to lead the way again! Let's dig into our heritage, deepen our faith and follow God into a vibrant future!

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