Located in Old Downtown, First Church was the center of life for a large portion of the community. It had a thriving children’s and youth ministry, lots of small groups, and good attendance each week. When pastor Tom retired after a 20-year tenure, First Church hired their first woman pastor, Linda. Shortly after she arrived at the church, her leadership would be tested severely.
A year and a week after Linda’s arrival, the town suffered a catastrophic flood. Church members, under Linda’s leadership, organized a rapid response to save the historic organ and several artifacts from the church’s 150-year history. Once the valuables were secured offsite a small but committed team began to assess the damage. It was determined that restoring the building would cost well over what the insurance would cover. A congregational meeting was held at a school in the neighboring town where the difficult decision was made to sell the historic building and move the church to higher ground.
Having been given the go-ahead, Linda and the team got to it. The purchase of the new property and the move was a monumental event for the community and many thanked God, publicly and privately, for delivering Linda, with her strong leadership skills, to guide them through the task.
The congregation seemed more united than ever. Recovering from the flood and settling into the new location took a little over two years, but the new building was beautiful. The expansive grounds allowed for a labyrinth, and a columbarium. The church now enjoyed a commercial kitchen, a light-filled narthex, and a modern, semi-circular worship space with built-in projectors and screens. Linda and the group of leaders who were responsible for the recovery and the move managed the new project down to the last detail, including coordinating the colors of the carpet perfectly with the stained-glass windows. While the town was still reeling from the damage of the flood, the church seemed to have emerged triumphant, better than ever. With the installation of the historic organ, the project was complete. Finally, the church members could relax and worship in peace.
But, like every major project, not everything worked out perfectly. While the carpet brought out the earth tones of the pew cushions, it also dampened the acoustics, forcing the organist to play louder, which drowned out the choir and the congregational singing on the west end of the sanctuary. Those on the east end of the sanctuary said that the organ was deafening, while those in the middle claimed that they couldn’t tell the difference. After worship, people took sides. For some the rallying cry became “I want to make a joyful noise to the Lord, but instead I’m squawking to hear myself over that blasted organ!” While other side whispered “That organ is a part of the town’s history! With all we have been through we need to hear it more than ever.” The above case-study is used at the beginning of our newest learning seminar: Leading Emotional Systems Training (LEST). LEST is for those who want a primer or refresher course on leadership of the emotional dynamics of congregations, for those seeking Interim Ministry I certification, and for those who will facilitate conflict reconciliation. Not just for pastors, LEST is for anyone who desires to look at themselves and grow as members in the Body of Christ.
LEST will be held at the presbytery offices (4141 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix) from April 13-17, 2020 (new dates). CLICK HERE FOR A BROCHURE
To register for LEST, Click here by April 3 . The $40 cost covers the workbook, snacks and supplies (scholarships available upon request). You can find a brochure HERE. What would you do when the “Organ Incident” happened? As a pastor or elder, how would you show up for personal health and congregational wholeness? As a follower of Jesus, what is required of you when seemingly easy to solve problems become calculus-level complex? Lest you wonder too much, come to LEST to learn more!