Every years, around this time, many churches find themselves beginning to work under the guidance of a new Parish Council/Church Board/Board of Elders.

This time of year makes me wonder how we might work and minister well together as leaders in our church community. As with most human endeavours, I am convinced that how we are together is more important than what we actually do in leadership. Conscious of this important reality, I found myself wondering this year, what qualities or guidelines I might imagine that would help the leaders in the community I serve work together in ways that might be life-giving and nurturing for the parish as a whole and might have the best chance of enabling us to bear witness to the presence of Christ in our lives.

What follows are the guidelines I share with the Parish Council with whom I share leadership in the church in which I am privileged to serve.

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(Nb: The environment, spirit and atmosphere we create on Parish Council affects the entire parish.  Therefore, the tone we establish as we work together and how we conduct ourselves as leaders in the church are vital to the well-being of our community. To a large degree, the way we are together is the way the parish will be.

What follows is my personal vision of the way I see Parish Council ideally operating. It is a vision that in general I believe has shaped the leadership within our parish.)

Here are ten guidelines I believe offer the best chance of us being together in leadership in ways that are life-giving for the whole parish and even for the world beyond:

  1. Church is a living organism. We come together because we share a common commitment to living our lives aware of the presence and action of that Love we believe we see embodied in the life of Jesus.

We seek to foster an environment in which love will prosper and be the dominant characteristic of our community.

We aim to be the community that, according to Tertullian writing around CE 200, the world saw when it looked at the early church and observed, “See how they love one another.”

  1. We exist to encourage one another in becoming more conscious of the work of Love in our lives and in living more deeply in tune with God’s Spirit. To this end we each commit ourselves to taking personal responsibility for our own inner state.

We hope to avoid finger-pointing, blaming and scapegoating.

We understand that the presence of peacefulness and love in an organization begin in the lives of those who are in leadership in the organization. Therefore, we desire to find peace and love in our hearts and to live peacefully and lovingly in relation to all people, even those with whom we may disagree or by whom we feel hurt or let down.

  1. We see our primary call as supporting one another in opening to the unpredictable moving of the Spirit which “blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8).

To live in tune with this creative moving Spirit requires that we each submit our lives to that Spirit and live the gentle, flexible, open, and responsive lives that are characteristic of the Spirit of love.