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Jul 31, 2006


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Nate Custer


Our confrence Bishop has been making the same link. Her conclusion was for the confrence to be healthy it needs to be starting 10 churches a year per year in just the Texas Annual confrence (there are 4 other annual confrences in Texas alone). She has been leading a major reoganization of the confrence offices, budget, the number of districts to free up funds to help plant churches.

I think if church planting is a major focus one of the things central offices need to do is cut their own budget and funnel funds into church planting. Is the PCUSA doing simular things?


Thanks for the link and the precis. I've long thought that we really don't do NCD well and we really need to get on it.

BTW: nice new banner! Me gusta mucho.

Michael Kruse

"I think if church planting is a major focus one of the things central offices need to do is cut their own budget and funnel funds into church planting. Is the PCUSA doing simular things?"

Nate we have done the "cut the central office" part but the road to new church development is as yet unclear. We are just now starting to live into our first ever comprehensive mission work plan. We have arrived at 8 objectives and by September expect of have established measurable outcomes.

In a recent national fund raising campaign, we discovered that Presbyterians have virturally zero interest in contributing money to the national offices to do new church development (NCD). However, when the national HQ has offered to partner with presbyteries in joint fundraising for NCDs in their area the interest goes way up.

I have served on a number of boards and in businesses but this denomination has had the most convaluted structures I have ever had to deal with. We are making suprsingly (to me) rapid progress toward reform but I think we are a good year or more from getting all of our oars in the water.

We do have presbyteries that, like you bishop, have shown innovative leadership. I think in addition to helping presbyteries access funds the other things we can do is network people together and use our denominational soap box.

One thing I am sure of, NCD has to be a top denominational priority. It is just unclear yet what he most effective way is for the HQ to foster this and avoid doing what lower governing bodies should be doing for themselves.

Michael Kruse

You are welcome Kairos and thanks for the compliment about the banner. It is from a picture I took of the KC skyline from about three years ago from a hill a few blocks from my house. I put it in PhotoShop and squirreled around with it a little. I may have to redo it before long because the right side of the landscape is being radically altered with addition of new structures.


Ah, what it would be like to have photoshop! I have to settle with Paint Shop Pro X.

I recognized KC. Beautiful skyline... Nicely done.

I'm saddened by how little quality NCD has happened in Heartland pby. Particularly germane was this point in what you cited:

We need to legitimize risk and change at the local level and we need to link people with all the help being offered by teaching congregations, congregational consultants, and seminaries...
Movements such as the transformational, emergent and missional church movements are all about design, but few of the graduates of our seminaries know how to introduce such ideas into the lives of thoroughly traditional and frequently declining established congregations. Without such design skills and significant leadership competencies, pastors will continue to struggle with how to lead congregations whose programs remain rooted in the 1950s.

That seems to hit things pretty squarely on the head. Churches are afraid of dying. Some, frankly, ought to be put in hospice and allowed to die with dignity. But we need to risk more and have more faith in God's work alive in our churches...

Michael Kruse

"Churches are afraid of dying. Some, frankly, ought to be put in hospice and allowed to die with dignity."

And that really is the flip side of the problem. I was a part of a church that closed three years ago. It was done well with dignity and a celebration. I think some of our churches just need permission to let it go. This is one area where I hope the networking of Presby execs, the GAC, and other entities will spawn some models for how to sensitively address these issues.

E. Stanley Ott

I can see real effort being made by the GAC to re-focus on the needs and opportunities for transformation at the grassroots level of congregational life. It is a sign of hope because it has to start there. While "death with dignity" is the future for some congregations, most folk would like to see new vitality and a new future - but running a 1950 program isn't going to do it. Counsel and encouragement to move into transformational, missional, and emergent thinking that honors the past and moves into a new future is going to be essential. Blessings!

Michael Kruse

Thanks Stanley. And thanks for the Article!

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