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I want to talk to you today about the power of collaboration. Collaboration has a way of giving strength, helping us to overcome obstacles and achieve our goals.

So much in ministry is a challenge. How do you really develop discipleship in your congregation? How do you deal with the pressures of finances and the challenges of personalities? What do you do when you are trying to figure out the next best step to take?

As I talk with pastors across the East District I get the sense that so many of you are doing a great job, but the weight of the call bears heavily on your shoulders. I have heard pastors share a longing to find ways to share the load. Some have strong lay leadership who work with them. Some do not. The Bishop’s Initiative on Growth and Vitality continues to be a work in progress, and along the way there are some learnings that bubble to the surface.

One of the things we are learning is that there is strength when we discover ways to work collaboratively, when we move beyond competition or fear or whatever it is that causes so many to be isolated in their work.

For this coming year I would like to find ways for us to collaborate – to work together to share the load and encourage one another. I’m calling it Confluence – a District Strategy for Growth.

Confluence is defined as the coming together of two rivers, a meeting place. I love the image I found in the definition of confluence in geography – It talked about that point where two rivers meet or where a river meets the ocean. It described that exact spot as a place of chaos and creativity. It is the place where life is made new. (I wish I could find the exact place I found that definition – but I was so caught up in the description I lost the reference.)

I would like to propose two points of Confluence. Completely optional. It is only for those who desire to take a risk, experiment.

Confluence 1. Create a Preaching Team – How much of your time is spent working on your sermon – developing worship slides – creating an order of worship? The Preaching Team experiment is for one preaching season – We would agree on a preaching theme for the season. We would agree on weekly topics. We would share the work of sermon preparation, slide creation and the development of liturgy. It would require three days of intensive work as a team. After that you would be free to focus your time and energy on reaching new people for Christ.

Confluence 2. Create a Leadership Roundtable for Clergy – A Roundtable is a place to discuss the issues and concerns you have for your church and work collaboratively to address the issues in creative and faith filled ways. We would meet for lunch once every other month starting in January.
It is my hope and prayer that as we find creative ways to collaborate, to create cluster gatherings that have meaning, that all of us together we experience the presence and power of God’s Spirit to do the work of transforming the world.

I look forward to working together with you. You are great and marvelous servants of God. Let’s see what happens.

Just for the fun of it – here is a video from someone my husband introduced me to. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rDeK9vlUNs

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Rev. N. Susan Brims
East District Missional Strategist & Superintendent

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