Message from the Bishop, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016 | Messages from the Bishop

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Blessings Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Wow! What a year it has turned out to be for the United Methodist Church. Sure there are challenges, but we keep making progress.Thank you for all you are doing to make disciples and grow vital congregations. Together, we are transforming lives and the world.

In August, I went to the doctor for my annual physical. It was a pretty routine visit. The doctor took some blood, checked my eyes, ears and nose, listened to my heart and asked a series of questions. In a month, we need to take our car through the inspection line at motor vehicles. At the end of the year, the Episcopacy Committee will evaluate my leadership in Greater New Jersey. Life is full of evaluations.

While some of these check-ups seem like a hassle, I am actually grateful that people are looking out for my health, safety and leadership. In each of these instances, people are looking at what is happening or what they perceive to be happening and comparing it to their expectations of what should be happening. Once in a moment of frustration about hearing criticism during a performance evaluation, I got defensive and said, “That’s only a perception!” A very wise leader replied, “It doesn’t matter. People are seeing you through the lens of that perception. If it’s not true, it’s your job to change the perception.” I took those comments to heart and since then I take all feedback very seriously. Even an “off the wall” criticism has the truth of someone’s perception behind it.

Evaluations can make us defensive. We internalize what people say or what they didn’t say. We feel vulnerable and uneasy. It’s difficult work, but like all things difficult, they can make us stronger leaders and help move our mission forward by growing our ministry.

At GNJ, we are committed to work with every pastor and every church that is willing and ready to grow and develop. Over the next year we will roll out three evaluations.

  1. Greater New Jersey Leadership. This first one is to evaluate GNJ and its leadership, mission and resourcing. We want to know what you think about the progress we are or are not making. It will give you the opportunity to evaluate the services you and your congregation are receiving and provide us feedback on if the resources we are offering are done with excellence and conviction. This evaluation will be done twice a year. A team of our staff will review the results and see if we are meeting or exceeding your expectations. Where we are not, we will set goals to improve our work.
  2. Congregations. This evaluation will be done once a year in August or early September. We will use it as part of the charge conference conversation every fall.
  3. Pastors serving Congregations. This evaluation will be done once a year in April. April was intentionally scheduled so that it would be separated from appointment and salary conversations. This evaluation is meant to clarify expectations, set development plans and grow clergy leadership. It is not meant to identify a pastor’s next appointment or salary. We want this evaluation to provide healthy feedback to our pastors.

The first evaluation of Greater New Jersey Leadership is now open and will be open for the next two weeks. The evaluation can be found here and will close on October 3. I encourage you to take a moment to participate today as it will help us to grow and improve as a conference

The other two evaluations have been posted and available for your review. To develop the surveys, we worked with more than 50 clergy and church leaders and received input from the Board of Ordained Ministry. They have been tested by clergy, SPRC chairpersons, lay leadership and congregations. We will use them in 2017 but we wanted you to familiarize yourself with the evaluation and process, so we have posted them in advance. These evaluations may be found here.

Thank you for being a vital part of GNJ’s ministry. I pray that this will be a great fall season for you and your ministry.

Keep the faith!