The Right Question at the Right Time

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question-markBy Brian Sharpe

Have you ever been in a situation as a parent, boss, coworker, or friend where you didn’t know what to say or do when giving advice? You knew what the person should do, but you were sure they weren’t going to do what you thought they should. As a parent, as a friend, as a leader, and as a mentor, I have been in that situation so many times. My modus operandi is to just tell people what to do. The problem is, that usually ends up not going the way I think it should go.

I don’t know if you are like me, but I often think that if the world just did things the way I think they should be done, it would be a better, more functional place. I know that is arrogant, and most likely not true, but it is a thought I have.

I was recently in a situation where I was in conflict with someone that I respect. We both had different ideas of how something should be done. During this meeting, it was obvious that we weren’t seeing eye to eye. Martin was at this meeting, and he brought me and this man together to talk through and figure out what was going on. Before this meeting, I wanted to spend some time alone in prayer, seeking God and asking for understanding on why this other leader and I weren’t seeing eye to eye. As I prayed, I wasn’t getting any clarity to what was going on in this relationship. I could understand where I was coming from, and I thought I understood where the other man was coming from … but boy, was I wrong!!!

While praying, I called a mentor of mine, Jim. We usually meet once a month, but I needed his advice and his outside perspective. While on the phone with Jim, I explained the situation. I explained the reason for the meeting. Jim’s first response wasn’t to tell me what he thought I should do. His first response was to empathize, then to asking questions. He has a framework that he works though in situations like this, and the first thing is seeking to understand by asking questions. As he asked questions, he better understood the situation.

At this point, if I were Jim, I would have moved into telling me what to do. Instead, he started asking more questions about why I was responding the way I was. By the end of our conversation, it was clear to me all the ways I needed to own my improper leadership. I thought I knew what was going on, but I was blinded by my own biases. Jim was not; he was able to help me understand the blind spots in my life. He did this by asking questions, not by making statements.

I really am learning that this is the best way to help people. We need to become master question-askers. As a pastor, I see this. As a parent, I see this. As a husband, I see this. How often could an argument (I mean if Tomina and I argued . . . which of course we never do! JK) have been stopped if I would had asked a good question instead of making a statement? Asking good questions means you are seeking to understand, not make a point. This takes humility and intentionality. But in the end, I think it leads us down the path we want to go down, and that is to help others.

I have seen where someone asking good questions has helped me. I have seen where good questions have helped others. Leading through questions is hard, but worth the time it takes. In the future, when people are seeking your help or you are trying to help a family member or a friend, stop, think, and ask yourself what question needs to be asked, instead of what statement needs to be made.

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Mandated Airplane Material

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By Dan Amos

For the framers of our church constitution, the Sunday church bulletin had always been the primary means of written communication. The bulletin has also provided the working material for many an airplane folded during the worship service. Sometimes test flights even waited until after the church service was over.

Today, thanks to email and the website, we’ve scaled back the paper we print. I rarely take the printed material and almost never fold an airplane. For many, the printed material is no longer the primary means of communication. Some of the changes proposed to the constitution open our options for official communication. We will continue to use a variety of media as appropriate, but we intend to continue some printed materials, such as the letter sent out a week ago on our upcoming congregational meeting.

Constitutions are often referred to as living documents, meaning that they can be adjusted as new needs arise. However, changes to constitutions should not be taken lightly. Our church’s constitution is no different, and we have the added consideration of the biblical direction to be orderly in the church. This is firmly in mind as we propose changes to our church document. The changes are intended to honor the spirit and intention of the original document but also to update it to allow for present circumstances.

Below are the changes we are asking the membership to approve at the meeting on October 7. Each proposal is in a separate table and includes the section of the constitution to be updated, the current wording, and the proposed change. This is followed by the rationale or reason why we think the change is needed.

If you have questions, ask me, Brian Sharpe, or Brian Waple. We were the committee on the Elder Board that put together this proposal.

Article III, Section 3: Update voting rights for absentee ballots and establishment of quorum.
Current Proposed
All members, eighteen years of age or older   shall have equal voting rights. A: All members, eighteen years of age or older shall have equal voting rights. B: Members in good standing but unable to attend a duly called business meeting may vote by absentee ballot and be counted for purposes of establishing quorum. C: Members in good standing and absent due to prolonged geographical separation for reasons of work, school, or of a similar nature shall not be counted among the voting membership for the purpose of establishing quorum.
Rationale: Item A is currently the entire wording of section 3. We propose adding items B and C to acknowledge the nature of travel, work, and school makes it difficult to attend every business meeting and for those away for extended periods, absentee voting may not be practical because they have not been able to participate in the life of the body and are not familiar with the issues presented to the membership. If such persons can not or choose not to vote by absentee ballot then they would retain their full membership, but for the purposes of establishing quorum for the specific business meeting in question they would not be counted among the membership solely for that purpose.
Article III, Section 4B2): Broaden venue for required action
Current Proposed
If the accused refuses to appear, the Elder Board shall remove their name from the Church   Membership Roll. The Elder Board shall inform the Church of its decision at a duly called business meeting following the decision. If the accused refuses to appear, the Elder   Board shall remove their name from the Church Membership Roll. The Elder board shall inform the church of its decision at a duly called business meeting or devotional meeting following the decision.
Rationale: Adding “or devotional meeting” expands and clarifies the options for informing the membership and congregation.

 

Article IV, Section 6A2): Eliminate redundant paragraphs in the document
Current Proposed
They shall be elected for a two year term. By   special request of the Elder Board and with approval of the Nominating Committee, any officer may be nominated for election for two additional terms. The officer must then sit out one full year before being re elected. Delete subsection 2) and remove subsection 1)   as a subsection.
Rationale: Subsection 2) repeats the already stated term of office of all church officers in Article IV, Section 5C. With the removal of subsection 2), there is no longer a need to make the statement in subsection 1) as a subsection. It will now be the sole statement of Article IV, Section 6A.
Article V, Section 3B: Divide paragraph for   clarity and change medium for communication
Current Proposed
This Committee shall prepare and present at   the Annual Budget and Election Meeting a slate of candidates for the offices   to be filled. They shall also fill vacancies that occur during the year. The   names of the candidates shall be published in the Church bulletin and posted for two (2) consecutive Sundays. Preceding the Election Meeting, the candidates shall study the responsibilities and functions of their office. The Senior Pastor or appointed Elder shall oversee their education. 3B: This Committee shall prepare and present   at the Annual Budget and Election Meeting a slate of candidates for the offices to be filled. They shall also fill vacancies that occur during the year. 3C: The names of the candidates shall be   published and posted for two (2) consecutive Sundays. 3D: Preceding the Election Meeting, the candidates shall study the responsibilities and functions of their office. The Senior Pastor or appointed Elder shall oversee their education. 3E: Regular members of this Church may make   nominations only by filing with the Nominating Committee a written and signed nomination. The Nominating Committee shall consider persons so nominated by their qualifications.
Rationale: The proposed change breaks up a large paragraph with disparate provisions into separate paragraphs addressing single issues. In the proposed paragraph 3C, the words “in the Church bulletin” are removed. This simply allows for prevailing media and means of communication to be used to accomplish the same purpose. At the time the constitution was written, the weekly church bulletin was the primary means of communication. This has been replaced by an electronic weekly newsletter and other means.
Article VI, Section 3A: Broaden timing of annual budget and election meeting
Current Proposed
ANNUAL BUDGET AND ELECTION MEETING – This   meeting of the membership shall be held on the first Sunday of December to elect new officers and approve a budget for the coming year. ANNUAL BUDGET AND ELECTION MEETING – This meeting of the membership shall be held no later than the second Sunday of December to elect new officers and approve a budget for the coming year.
Rationale: The current designation of the first Sunday of December is not always a good date to have this meeting. The proposed wording honors the intent to complete and pass the budget prior to the start of the new year but allows   for flexibility in the timing of the meeting.
Article VI, Section 4A: Change medium for communication
Current Proposed
Announcement of all business meetings shall be made from the pulpit and printed in the Sunday bulletins two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting. Announcement of all business meetings shall be made from the pulpit and published for two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting.
Rationale: Removes “in the Sunday bulletins”
Article VI, Section 4G: Change documentation of absentee ballots
Current Proposed
Voting by proxy shall not be permitted. In the event members are not able to attend a business meeting, they may apply to the Elder Board for an absentee ballot. Upon submitting such ballot, voting members must sign an updated membership roster. It shall be the responsibility of the Elder Board Chairman to assure the confidentiality of absentee ballots. The   availability of absentee ballots shall be announced in accordance with rules for announcement of all business meetings as stated in Article VI. Section 4:A Voting by proxy shall not be permitted. In the event members are not able to attend a business meeting, they may apply to the Elder Board for an absentee ballot. Upon submitting an absentee ballot, the membership roster for the business   meeting shall indicate an absentee ballot has been received from that member. It shall be the responsibility of the Elder Board Chairman to assure the confidentiality of absentee ballots. The availability of absentee ballots shall be announced in accordance with rules for announcement of all business meetings as stated in Article VI. Section 4:A.
Rationale: Replaces the phrase “Upon submitting such ballot, voting members must sign an updated membership roster.” This allows for other forms of absentee ballot submission but maintains a record to prevent submission of duplicate ballots.
Article VII, Section 2: Change “properly” to “duly”.
Current Proposed
A three fourths (3/4) vote by secret ballot at a properly called business meeting shall be required for the purchase or sale of real estate. A quorum (50%) of the voting membership must be present. A three fourths (3/4) vote by secret ballot at a duly called business meeting shall be required for the purchase or sale of real estate. A quorum (50%) of the voting membership must be present.
Rationale: Maintains agreement in vocabulary throughout the document.
Article VIII, Section 3: Add “designated”
Current Proposed
Monies from the Benevolence Fund shall come   from contributions made at the communion services, and from any other monies which the Church may designate for the fund. The Elder Board shall not be required to make public disclosure of the specific disbursements from this fund, but an accounting will be kept by the Church Treasurer. Monies from the Benevolence Fund shall come   from designated contributions made at the communion services, and from any other monies which the Church may designate for the fund. The Elder Board shall not be required to make public disclosure of the specific disbursements from this fund, but an accounting will be kept by the Church Treasurer.
Rationale: Adds the word “designated” to distinguish from undesignated giving for the general fund.
Article IX, Section 3A:
Current Proposed
Each year the Board of Elders shall appoint   from the membership a Congregational Secretary. At the beginning of each year the Board of   Elders shall appoint from the membership a Congregational Secretary.
Rationale: Designates the timing of the appointment.
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Family Time

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by Dan Amos

For 18 years now, Elim has been home to me and my family. It’s where we experience the community of believers, where we worship corporately, where we serve, where we live, and where we give. Sometimes at home we get busy or things are just changing and it is good to stop and have family time to talk about what’s going on. I am excited about our direction and am eager to share that with you.

In my house family time can mean asking what’s going on in the next week or last year’s recurring talks about family finances. We talk about what it means for the family and how we are going to respond.

At Elim we have been talking about change for awhile, but the Elder Board, staff, and Ministry Leaders want to process with our whole family where we’ve been and where we’re going. Therefore, we are planning several “Family Times” over the next month to talk about these things, answer questions, and hear from you.

The first of these will be on Saturday evening, July 28, at Family Camp. We often have a potluck dinner on Saturday and follow it with a worship service. All of Elim is invited to join us at Alder Lake Park for this family time. The next one will be a homemade ice cream social at the Schlomers’ house (13314 74th Ave. East, Puyallup) on August 4 at 6:00. If you’re able to attend, please sign up in the fellowship room. We look forward to spending time together as a church family!

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Larry’s last, Last Word?

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By Larry Short

It’s been several years since we elders started writing the weekly “Last Word” in order to more effectively communicate with the body at Elim what the Lord is doing here … and this morning I’m feeling a little wistful about the fact that this may be my final “Last Word,” at least for a little while! (I really do enjoy writing these! I counted recently and I believe this is the 120th Last Word that has been published … not all of them by me, of course!)

Why so wistful? you might ask. Well, the Lord has been doing something interesting in me ever since I preached (about a month ago) on the topic of “margin.” I shared then how He was challenging me to increase the margin in my life … the space “around the edges” of work, ministry and play, time available for the Lord to do a better work in me and through me. Time for just me and Him to continue to get to know each other better, as well as for me to become better equipped to do whatever He is calling me to do.

I pointed out that sometimes, like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, we need to learn to say “no” to good things in order to make more room for the best things. As a result of this conversation with the Lord in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to focus my ministry efforts here at Elim. As a result I’ve informed the elders that I would be stepping off the board (before the completion of my term) after this month.

I mentioned focus … I think you all are aware that the Lord has brought Darlene and I a truly fruitful and fulfilling ministry in the form of Pulse, Elim’s young adults ministry. We now have an awesome group of young adults, college and career-aged, who are sold out for Jesus and getting engaged in ministry and outreach with Elim. Between the two of us, we are mentoring five of them (and many of the others are being mentored by yet other leaders at Elim). We have nearly 50 on our roster, but at least 20-30 of these are “core” young adults, actively involved in Pulse. Even larger churches in our area frequently struggle to maintain healthy young adults groups, so we feel incredibly blessed by what God is doing here!

We are also in the midst of one of those many periods of transition, as many (three couples) of our young adults have recently married, and others are getting near the age where they may be transitioning out soon (into other groups and ministries). These faithful have been with us long and we will really miss them!

And of course God is bringing in new young adults, including some high school graduates. So, after praying this through, Darlene and I do feel like this really is a season where we need to focus all of our best efforts on what God is continuing to do in this group, through leading Bible studies and prayer times; book studies; special events; and mentoring. Your prayers as we seek to “up the ante” with Pulse are much needed and appreciated!

Fortunately right now I can depart the Elder Board with a clear conscience, as it is perhaps in a stronger position than it’s been in a long time. Even with me stepping off and Mike being called to pastoral ministry, the Board still is a very strong group of men who are passionate about seeking God’s best for Elim. Pastor Martin has been challenging us all to step up our board involvement to meet the need for strategic preparation for the days ahead, and I’m convinced that this awesome and committed group of guys, under Dan’s leadership, are more than up to the challenge.

Anyway, I just wanted to say I really appreciate all of you (especially those of you who read these Last Words!) … your prayers and support; as well as the privilege and opportunity of serving with the elders these past few years (as well as the six years before my constitutionally required one-year hiatus!). Now, off to a little Grandpa vacation with Annabelle, for some real “margin” time! Be back soon!

 

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Communication

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By Larry Short

Have you ever wondered why John 1 refers to Jesus Christ as “The Word?” That’s a very unusual way to describe Someone, when you think about it.

I suspect that in calling Christ “The Word,” John is giving us an important clue as to the nature of God. He is telling us that it is in God’s nature to reveal, to express Himself to His creation, to communicate. Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” As we gaze upon Jesus, we come to understand what God is like. He is God’s expression or communication of His nature to us.

Communication is extremely important to our lives, to our survival, to our health and happiness. Through communication we experience the world around us and come to understand our purpose.

As the Strategy Team was considering how to move our church toward the vision God has for us, we recognized the important role that accurate, timely, and compelling communication would play in achieving our goals. Hence effective communication became the first of five key objectives we decided would require focus in our five-year plan.

In order to identify and achieve key SMART goals within the first year, we have formed a team comprised of our webmaster, Dan Amos, our associate pastor, Brian Sharpe, our church secretary, Julie Pace, and myself. This team has begun meeting and working on a number of SMART goals, including:

  • Devising and conducting a survey of our membership to better understand how effective our current communications efforts are, and how we could develop more effective communications efforts.
  • Evaluate and enhance our church’s web presence (including homepage and Facebook) to communicate more effectively.
  • Evaluate other forms of communication, such as our email newsletter, pulpit and audiovisual communications, printed brochures, and signage.
  • Explore new avenues of communication made possible by recent technologies (such as text messaging and social networking platforms).

What is a SMART goal? It is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Ministry leaders will be setting SMART goals for each of the five objective areas: Communication, Assimilation, Community, Spiritual Transformation, and Holistic Outreach.

In upcoming Last Words, we will dig into each of the remaining four objectives separately. So, if you are interested in how “assimilation” will make a lasting impact on the life of our church, tune in next week!

In the meantime, I want to leave you with two thoughts about effective communication:

  1. It is redundant. Different types of communication affects different people differently. In our church the pulpit is a key tool of effective communication. But we employ other forms of communication as well to support the message we are seeking to communicate. We encourage you to avail yourself of all the tools we are seeking to create in order to communicate effectively.
  2. It is two-way. Accurate communication depends on willingness to both give and receive feedback. Without feedback, we might assume we’ve communicated something well; but the person to whom we have “communicated” has no idea what we’ve been trying to convey. Please bless those who lead the various ministries at our church by providing them with constructive and timely feedback.

We’d love to hear your feedback about the direction that our church is going, about our vision and strategy. What questions do you have? How is God working the “KNOW, GROW, GO” vision into your life? Please share your thoughts on email or talk with any elder.

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