Too many church leaders get caught up in the ‘administrivia’ of their congregations, says Dr. David Gortner from Virginia Theological Seminary, and it keeps them from getting out and involved in their neighborhoods, which harms both their faith community and the community at large.
David, who is the professor of evangelism and congregational leadership at VTS, wants to revitalize the old model of the Pastor as Parson – or as a community figure who is deeply in touch with the wants, needs, and challenges of the community at large. Let’s face it, the church maintenance model is dead – and the church mission model, for many congregations, needs to be one of greater community involvement. Here’s David’s take on it.
Watch the Full Program
Rather Listen? Click here for the Mp3.
While many people think the pastoral skills of a clergy leader are the most important, David Gortner says what’s really needed are the skills of a community organizer. How do we transition from the maintenance model to the mission model? Here are my notes from the interview:
Link Mission with Tradition
David says few young people are drawn to join the ranks of clergy because churches can’t make the case that involvement in ‘the institution’ has the capacity to change the world. We all know churches can, but how intentional are we about linking the two?
Many of the tools community organizers use, like listening to others via 1-on-1′s, and taking accountability for the neighborhood, should be learned (or re-learned) by clergy and church members if we really want to make an impact on our communities.
Parish as Parson
Not only should clergy be actively caring for the community, but so should church members. Understanding Parker Palmer’s concept of the church as a ‘public’ means opening minds, and doors, to the possibilities of God’s redemptive work in the wider community.
About David Gortner
Professor David Gortner joined the VTS faculty in 2008 as Director of the Doctor of Ministry programs and Professor of Evangelism and Congregational Leadership. David holds degrees from the University of Chicago, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and Wheaton College. Previously he served on the faculties of Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. David has authored Transforming Evangelism (Church Publishing, 2008). He is completing books on clergy leadership effectiveness and young adult religious engagement, and leads conferences and seminars on these topics across the U.S. and Canada. David’s wife, Heather VanDeventer, is an Episcopal priest and assistant chaplain at Episcopal High School in Alexandria. David and Heather have two young daughters.
Sponsors I Mentioned
Church Post – If you are looking to improve your church’s communications you’ve got to check out this great email platform. I’ve found it easy-to-use, reliable, and John, Debra and Kim are great to work with.
Wistia – If you’re still hosting your videos at YouTube or another ‘free’ video sharing site you know the drawbacks. Wistia helps me put out great looking videos and see who’s watching for how long. The Wistia staff is easy to work with and very professional.
The Grow My Church Store – Everything from mugs to pens to fridge magnets, this is a promotional products store aimed at helping churches become closer communities, more hospitable, and welcoming. I started this store and shop there often because I couldn’t find anywhere else to go for these products.