Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant Congregational Questions 2016

Questions & Concerns Relative to the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant

These questions and concerns were gathered in a variety of ways. Some were communicated during specific information and feedback sessions. Others were shared via email messages. Still others were gathered in the course of informal conversations. The desire was to capture every question and concern. It is not possible to answer all of the questions completely. Sometimes the questions were combined with similar questions.

  • Who fills the pulpit during the leave?
    • A similar question arises whenever the pastor is on vacation or is ill. In many ways it is up to the congregation. Since this is part of a planned leave, the details would be determined by the committee planning the leave activities of the pastor and the congregation. Those activities, including substitute speakers, would be selected based on the input from the congregation.
  • Who will pick up the things Dave does? Who will cover visitation? What happens if something dire happens during the leave? Deaths? Weddings?
    • Since the leave is longer in duration that a vacation, one answer is to find people with the proper gifts to pitch in and help in the Pastor’s absence. This has the dual effects of making all of us mindful of the breadth of the Pastor’s duties and of providing some of us an opportunity to use gifts we haven’t exercised before. In some circumstances clergy from other churches would be asked if they would be available to assist in the same way as when the pastor is on vacation or is ill.
  • What will be the District Superintendent’s role during the leave?
    • The planning committee could make requests of the District Superintendent, if that is something that fits into the overall plan for the leave. The District Superintendent may be available to fill in on some Sunday mornings.
  • Does Lilly do this every year?
    • The Lilly Endowment has offered grants of this type for the last fifteen years. The administrators of the grant process indicated this is a year to year decision on the part of the Lilly Endowment.
  • What percentage of applicants have received grants?
    • We made an inquiry of the Lilly Endowment and the endowment does not release this information.
  • What will the congregation do during the leave? What are some of the specifics? What will the plan be? What is on the list of things the congregation is going to do?
    • Establishing the specific renewal activities of the congregation would be the responsibility of the group planning the entire renewal experience, based on input from the congregation.
  • What activities will make the congregation grow/be renewed?
    • There is no activity that can make the congregation grow or be renewed, unless people choose to actively participate. The list developed from congregational input includes many great opportunities for growth and renewal. It may be found here.
  • Wouldn’t the process of developing a plan for renewal help us, even if we did not get a grant? We would still have the plan we developed.
    • This is a good observation and one of the reasons for exploring this opportunity.
  • Is the scope of renewal limited to spiritual renewal? How is renewal defined?
    • The renewal is defined by those planning and participating in the process. The spiritual aspect is only one part of what can be a multifaceted experience.
  • How can the congregational plan involve everyone, even those who do not often participate/volunteer in extra activities?
  • How might these activities bring together the congregation that is split into two services?
    • This is a continuing challenge to Asbury, as well as other churches with more than one worship service. Church-wide activities, such as game nights, combined worship services, picnics, etc. are helpful.
  • How can the congregational plan involve everyone, even those who do not often participate/volunteer in extra activities? How can we use this as an opportunity to help the congregation identify and use their gifts? How can we use this opportunity to talk about Asbury to people outside of Asbury? How might this give members of the congregation a chance to try things on a short term basis? How can this help us improve our communication? How can we use this to involve other people? How can this be used to help us connect with children or develop our children’s ministry?
    • The answers to all of these ‘how can we’ kind of questions are strongly dependent upon the willingness of individuals to actively participate in the opportunities included in the leave. Our hope is that we would, individually and collectively, open ourselves to the many possibilities such an experience might present.
  • Does Dave want to do this?
    • Yes, but with the stipulation that we do everything we can to make it a positive thing for Asbury.
  • Does Karen know about this? What would Karen’s participation be with Dave during the leave? What would Karen’s participation be with the congregation during the leave?
    • Yes. Karen participated in the information session at Christian Theological Seminary and would be involved in planning Dave’s activities. The program recommends some of the leave time be used as personal time away, while other time is spent with family or those close to the pastor. Karen would be with Dave for part of the leave, and here for part of the leave. Karen’s participation with congregation during the time when she is here would be no different than it is today.
  • What other opportunities will be available for people to share thoughts, concerns, questions, and ideas? How can people continue to provide input following the Café?
    • The opportunities include an information and feedback session, an Asbury Cafe event, two Asbury Cafe makeup sessions, opportunities to share with the ambassadors following worship, and communicating with any of the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant Team members, or any of the Church Council members.
  • Is there something wrong with our pastor or our church that we need to do this?
    • No. The Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant program provides an opportunity for healthy pastors and churches to seek renewal. One of the presenters at the information session remarked specifically that it is not intended as a means of moving unhealthy pastors or unhealthy churches back to health.
  • A plan for congregation renewal is most welcome. However, why can’t it be done without the pastor being gone for 3 months? Why, are we not able to do it otherwise? I think we can, if we want to.
    • It is easier to have a “renewal” approach (versus status quo) if people are working together to accomplish something. That is what Lilly has found the grant does. Without a pastor, churches have to behave differently than the status quo. They have to plan and to do things that congregants may not have done before. This opportunity makes each person involved stronger. In addition, the pastor is refreshed and renewed – with a congregation that potentially knows what he does a bit better.

The following two words were mentioned during one of the feedback sessions as possible themes we might consider : Nature, and Celebration.