A Brief Overview of SMR

Common to many churches and to most organizations is the awareness that individuals are best reviewed in the context/environment in which they work. There are aspects of one’s effort, for example, that are truly under a person’s control and those that are not. There are cultural, structural, resource and governance factors that are integral to success; some of these are present and facilitative and some are neither. An accessible book called Completing the Circle by David McMahill, describes this complexity and it is recommended by the UCC for those who are engaged in evaluating a pastor.

The Shared Ministry Review (or Whole Church Evaluation) recognizes that these intricacies exist in a church. In First Parish Lincoln, as in many churches with a congregational polity, each member has a responsibility to contribute to the spiritual, educational, social and justice work of the whole community. It does not ignore that there is a pastor, but it, also, does not locate the responsibility to lead in one person; the congregation shares the ministry. In conducting this kind of an evaluation, the church, also, has an opportunity to identify whether the requisite conditions, policies, structures, personnel and resources are present to support the mission and the organizational function, finances and the spiritual life of the church. Over the next four months, identifying and evaluating these individual, cultural and systemic issues will be the task of the Shared Ministry Review Committee. It will need your involvement, your reflection, your suggestions, your patience and your prayers.

The SMR team will begin by collecting in formation about FPL’s Finances (e.g., Assets, Income, Expenses, Investments, Policies, Risk and Stewardship), Organization and Structure (e.g., Governance, Membership, Communications, Volunteers, and Demographics) and Spiritual Life (e.g., R.E., Outreach, Care, Small Groups). It will compare the church to itself over several years to identify trends and it will choose several peer institutions for comparison and bench-marking. The committee will hold three Whole Church discussions (Financial, Organizational, Spiritual) to present this information and solicit the congregations thoughts about each issue; how members see the strengths in these areas; and what needs work.

The first of these Open Meetings will be about Finances and it will take place in March 4, after church services in the Stearns Room. In addition, teams of two committee members will interview small groups (e.g., Deacons, PC, RE, Outreach, Care, Choir, others) to both share information and to ascertain how members see the strengths, the challenges and the potential areas of growth for FPL. These will be scheduled with the coordinators. Individuals are, also, invited to share their thoughts though a signed note or email addressed to the chair: Nicholas_Covino@willliamjames.edu.

This process is highly likely to be an iterative one, with a report that suggests further work, but there will be a written document at the end that will be discussed with the parish. This review will require much from the community and it has the opportunity to yield a great deal to its mission and to our community.

We welcome your involvement and thank you for your patience.

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