from MIKE MATHER – a U.M. pastor in Indianapolis, IN, doing creative and innovative ministries and thinking outside the box.
*I think that trust building could look something like this:
1) Celebrating the ministry of the people of our congregations: At Annual Conference instead of celebrating the ministry of the laity ONLY in Vacation Bible Schools, Mission Trips to faraway places or to cities or rural areas closer to home, and programs in local congregations – also celebrate the ministry of those who are good neighbors, those who are parents, those who are teachers (both officially and unofficially), those who are nurses, and doctors and factory workers and business people, who live out their ministry shaped by their sanctification;
2) District Superintendents going to visit congregations and literally laying hands on people and blessing them – publicly thanking them for their witness of gathering for worship and for the good work/ministry that people are engaged in with their lives;
3) gathering folks together from urban and rural congregations to share a meal – all who love growing things and listening to and trusting what the spirit is blooming in those conversations – and then publicly celebrating such things (this was inspired by – and stolen from – a conversation with Wendell Berry);
4) Holding an Annual Conference once (this is stolen from something Peter Storey did in South Africa once) where people come to the microphone and are given three minutes to talk about what they care deeply about – where the Spirit is pushing them – have the Bishop then gather people for the next couple of days around what was spoken and heard – and see what arises out of those conversations;
5) More parties: Lots more parties: Parties to celebrate the remarkable power and presence of God’s realm all around us – so, parties by the D.S. – to celebrate the dreams and ministry of the people of our parishes – young and old, women and men (sort of an Acts 2, prophet Joel, thing) – AT LEAST one such party every month for one quadrennium in each district.
I think that if such things were done – trust would be stronger