Thursday, October 29, 2015

There is a Deep Flaw in How We Select Future Clergy

When it comes to selecting new ordained leaders for the Church, the current Commission on Ministry System needs serious re-thinking and changes. 

In 1971, the year I graduated from Seminary, the Episcopal Church put in place a system to assist Bishops in the selection and screening of potential clergy.  These Commissions on Ministry (COMs) were intended to be advisory to Bishops and Standing Committees.  I think it is clear after over 40 years that this system has largely failed in helping the Church recruit, select, and train clergy.  TEC is 1/3 the size it was in 1971 and while the Commission on Ministry System is not the primary reason for this, I would contend that it is a major contributor.  Here are some of the issues that I have observed over the years.   

1.      While intended to be “advisory” to the Bishop, in most Dioceses the Commission is de facto the group with the authority to approve aspirants to enter the ordination process.  I can count on one hand in 40 years the number of times that I have seen or heard of a Bishop taking the advice into consideration and decided differently.  

2.     There is research that shows that a committee recruits toward the bell curve of the life experience of its members which explains one of the major reasons why the average age of seminarians continues to go up even with efforts by many in the Church to provide younger generational leaders.  This factor alone could explain the aging of our denomination and the inability we have to reach younger people. 

 (This “unspoken bell curve” speaks to other issues besides age.  For example, in the mid-nineties, and with the Bishop’s permission, I gave the COM of our Diocese the DISC profile (on leadership) and compared this to aspirants who were accepted.  The DISC normative profile of the COM and those of the Aspirants matched.  When we gave the DISC profile to our Church planters, we found they were all a considerably different from the COM and the DISC material suggested that they would be predictably most likely to be viewed negatively by those in the normative profile.  No wonder the Church has so few willing Church planters in ordained ministry.    It might also suggest why so few clergy are able to do revitalization of declining congregations.) 

3.     When the Diocese of Dallas decided to recruit younger aspirants, the Bishop and Standing Committee were forced to by-passed the COM system and in most cases the Bishop directly recruited the people to accept the challenge of considering ordained ministry and actively directed them toward their theological education. Today, Dallas has a remarkable number of outstanding younger ordained leaders. 

4.     Since the ordination process with seminary is often 5 to 6 years long, aspirants have little continuity with a rotating membership.  This contributes to the aspirants often feeling that they are seldom fully accepted and often have to face continuing re-examination by such commissions. 

5.     Commissions on Ministry almost never recruit or challenge younger leaders to consider the ministry as a vocation.  Many tell aspirants that if they “can do anything else in life and be fulfilled than they should do that and not apply for ordination.”  In other professions, people are charged with recruiting the brightest and the best to accept the challenge of entering that profession.  

6.     Almost all people entering the ordination process today are second vocation people.  The argument is that such people have seasoned life experience and therefore will be better leaders more effective in leading congregations and who will be less likely to behave badly.  There is no evidence to support these claims as compared to the past.  

7.     There is evidence to suggest that the people most able to take risks and very difficult assignments that demand sacrifice are in their twenties or older than fifty-five, while those most concerned for their financial package, benefits, and self-care are those in their 30s and 40s especially those who have families.  In other words, we find many new ordained people are low risk takers. 

8.     When leaders of the Church are challenged over the COM system, they almost always respond with “But it is so much better than what we had before.”  Yet few today can tell us what we had before or point to objective evidence that this contention is so.  It appears that clergy who go through this system or like hazed fraternity or sorority candidates who after the hazing are committed to requiring it of those who follow after them.  (Perhaps this explains why many clergy will admit privately that their COM experience felt abusive.) 

9.     In the old system, we had examining chaplains whose task was to assure that the candidates had received an adequate education.  Candidates were examined on content.  COMs tend to focus on more nuanced psychological and personality issues.  There is tremendous emphasis on subjective issues.  

10.  In the COM system there is often tension between the Standing Committee and the COM with a lack of clarity of their roles in the ordination process.   

11.  In the history of the Church, the consistently more effect methods for recruiting, supporting, and developing new clergy are the Mentor model and the Order Model.  In the Mentor Model, the mentor provides support for decades (such as Paul and Timothy) and in the Order Model, the Community provides such mentors and teachers for a lifetime (such as Patrick and his fellow missionaries to Ireland.)  

12.  Almost all Seminaries today claim that they are “Preparing future leaders for the Church.” In most situations this is merely marketing.  No other profession believes that a three year academic experience prepares professionals for leadership.  As one former Navy Captain who entered the ministry explained to me, “When I went to the Naval Academy it was clear that I was being trained to become an Ensign and that the Navy would teach me how to command.  When I went to seminary, I realized that everyone expected us to be able to Captain a ship of almost any size once we graduated.”   

It is true that some Dioceses have made modifications and adjustments to the COM system to try and correct some of these issues, but we need much more radical re-thinking of this method.  In my next blog, I intend to make a few suggestions to improve both our recruiting of younger leaders and our training of newer clergy. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Parish Models of Hispanic Ministry

The main reason for starting Hispanic ministry is the Great Commission to make disciples, but this will have to be supported with the Great Commandment to love one another. 

When I worked in the Diocese of Texas, I had the privilege of working with Bishop Leo Alard.  He was very helpful to me as I tried to understand how the Episcopal Church could reach out to Hispanics.  While not all Hispanics are Roman Catholics, a common misunderstanding, most have been exposed to the Church in a Sacramental and Liturgical form.  This gives the Episcopal Church an advantage in reaching out to Spanish speakers.   

I helped several congregations initiate Hispanic ministry while in Texas and then in 2005, I became Dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas that had a substantial and growing Hispanic membership.  The Cathedral had done this ministry for almost 30 years and it had the largest Hispanic membership in our Diocese.  Over the years, I have been asked by congregational leaders if they should consider starting work among Hispanics and especially the large and growing immigrant population of Spanish speakers in the U.S.   

If you are asking this question, it might help you to know the models of ministry that seem to be working and the implications for starting Hispanic work.  Of course, a diocese could begin a new church plant aimed at Hispanics, but few dioceses have the financial resources and the leadership to do so.  Most Hispanic ministry, therefore, begins when a present English speaking congregation decides to reach out to their Hispanic neighbors.  I see three models of successful Hispanic Ministry started by present existing congregations.  The critical issue is to decide early on which model the host congregation intends.  Each model takes a different set of strategies. 

1.       The Mother/Daughter Model:  In this strategy, the mother congregation begins a Spanish Service.  The intention is to build up a strong worshipping Hispanic community and when it matures to launch it as a new, potentially self-supporting, mission Church.  The most successful model I know is Santa Maria Virgen in Houston. Fr. Uriel Osanaya leads this vibrant church.  Started by Epiphany Church in West Houston, the congregation established its own identity and style.  Under Uriel’s leadership, they determined that they should become a separate congregation and relocated, with Diocesan assistance, to a separate location. 

2.       The Transitional Model:  Here a typically Anglo congregation located in a transitioning community launches a Spanish Service with the intention that the Spanish speaking members will over time become the majority members.  St. Matthew, Bellaire, Texas became San Mateo in the early 90s and is one of the largest Hispanic congregations in TEC.  In this model, the host members give the Spanish service a priority place in Sunday worship and see to the steady development of Hispanic leaders for the Vestry and other ministries.  As part of this transition, a critical step is when a Spanish speaking, bi-lingual, or Hispanic Priest is called as Rector.  

3.       The Multi-cultural Model:  Here a mostly Anglo congregation begins a service in English with the intention of being a bi-lingual congregation.   This is the model at the Cathedral which remains the Diocese of Dallas’ most successful Hispanic work. The long -term expectation is that with the growth of second and third generation Hispanic Leaders and greater cultural sensitivity among the Anglo members a multi-cultural community can emerge with blended worship.  Since most second and third generation Hispanics speak English, this creates the possibility of a bi-lingual and bi-cultural worship service.  My Canon Pastor for Hispanic work, Fr. Tony Munoz, helped revitalize the ministry to new immigrants and grew the 12:30 service at the Cathedral.  Being a person from Northern Mexico, he has a talent for reaching this group.  We learned not to refer to our Hispanic congregation and our Anglo congregation, but rather to our English and Spanish speakers.  Trying to be “One Congregation” is full of challenges, but it also has great rewards.  

I strongly recommend that parish leaders consider these three models and choose which one is appropriate for their situation.  Each model requires a special set of strategies.  When Church leaders are not sure what they are setting out to do, confusion and conflict can occur between the two diverse groups.  Even when leaders are clear, tensions can and do occur.  Here are some other things to remember when considering Hispanic work. 

1.       The creation of a Spanish service is not a solution to an English speaking congregation in decline or in crisis.  If it draws Hispanics, it will create an additional set of issues and challenges for the English leadership.  For example, the average income of Hispanic Families in Texas is half that of Anglo and African-American families.  The needs of immigrants are very different from those of the dominant culture and they will require additional programs, staff, and resources that stressed congregations simply do not have. 

2.        ESL classes (English as a second language) make a great starting place to connect to Spanish speakers.  Hispanic immigrants are eager to learn the English language and expect their children to do so.  

3.        English speaking leaders will have difficulty identifying Hispanic leadership because leadership is culturally defined.  I have often heard English speaking Vestry members say that they would have more Hispanic Vestry members but “they” do not seem to have any leaders in the Spanish speaking group.  Imagine a church where there are 20 remaining Anglo members and 500 Spanish speakers attending and yet the Vestry is made up of 90% English speakers.  This was the situation at San Mateo until the Bishop intervened. 

4.        Not all Hispanics are alike although English speakers tend to group and treat them this way.  At the Cathedral, we had over 12 different nationalities represented in our Spanish speakers. 

5.        Of those from Mexico, family is the dominant social group.  You will not need a nursery.  You will need knowledge of immigration laws and have a strong connection to social services.  The needs of an immigrant population are more basic and less complex than those of the majority culture, but they are none-the-less challenging.  

6.        Hispanics with a Roman Catholic background will generally not understanding “congregation” in the same way as English speaking folks.  They are most familiar with fees for services – the reason most Mexicans are not married in the Church.  They are not accustomed to pledging.  They are familiar with attending mass, but not with attending a parish meeting.  Undocumented folks will be reluctant to sign on to membership forms or sometimes even to list their address.  

7.        TEC has an office for Hispanic Ministry in New York with excellent resources to assist a congregation in developing Hispanic work.   

Of course, the main reason for starting Hispanic ministry is the Great Commission to make disciples, but this will have to be supported with the Great Commandment to love one another.  My life and ministry was greatly enriched by the Spanish speaking members of the Cathedral.  While there were cultural and language differences which were personally challenging, Hispanics are mostly loving, hard-working, family oriented people, who as Pope Francis said, primarily want a better world for their children.   

The opportunities and potential for TEC in Hispanic Ministry is tremendous.  Bishop Alard often said that “the border between Texas and Mexico was once 50 miles North of Laredo, and now it is 50 miles south of the Oklahoma border.”  Today we may want to move that line considerably farther north.  




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Demographics are Destiny: And that is Bad News for the Church

Demographics are radically changing the context of evangelism.  When I started teaching church leaders in the Diocese of Texas in the late 90s the importance of paying attention to generations, I liked to point out the church make up of different Generations. 

The GI and Silent Generations are 60% churched
Boomers are 40% churched

Gen X, or the Survivor Generation, are about 18% churched

Millenials are less than 10% churched 

I would often point out that as these dynamics played themselves out to the year 2020 there would be some major changes in the church landscape.  Here are three that I would offer folks with the caveat that “if these trends remain the same then by 2020:” 

Main line denominations such as TEC will be in major decline

The trend of church membership remaining between 40 and 44% would drop to 20%

The majority of those church members would be Evangelicals and Roman Catholics 

The trends have remained the same and churches in North America are now living through a major Tsunami of social change that affects every denomination and local congregation. 

I would point out in the late 90s that the extension of life due to medical technology and treatment had contributed to church membership remaining around 40% because GI and Silent generation folks were living longer.  What I did not say was that they would not live forever, but I thought church leaders could figure this out.   

What I can add to this today is that the Millenial mark a substantial increase in the birth rate and that their numbers are significant, rivaling the post WWII Baby Boomers.  Add this into the North American landscape combined with the substantial passing of the older Generations and our society is rapidly changing and thus so is the context of evangelism in North America. 

Note this; church membership is rapidly dropping toward the 20% number and consequently North American is rapidly becoming a secular society.   

Lost amid all the reactions last week to the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage (or as it is better identified “marriage equality), is the relationship of this demographic and social shift (increasing secularism and growing Millenial numbers) to how the court and wider society sees this issue. 

One reporter on PBS observed that he (an about to retire Boomer) had never seen such major and rapid change in a social issue during his life time.  He noted that 20 years ago, there was very little support or sympathy for the idea of same-sex marriage.  He pointed out that on the day of the court ruling 37 states allowed this and the majority of the population was in favor.  But of course, it is not the same population we had 20 years ago.   

Here is what we know about the newest Generation and their effect on this issue.  Hold on to your proverbial hats!

Polls show a substantial number of Millenials support same-sex marriage.

60% of Millenials who identify themselves as Republicans support same-sex marriage
(Somebody please tell the 15 or so Republicans running for President about this)

And today, Millenials outnumber Boomers  

Well, certainly “the times they are a changing” that should be obvious.  What I want to do is not focus on the issue of same-sex marriage, but how all this will affect the church’s attempts at Evangelism in the future. I suggest the following; 

1.       First and foremost, secularism and its subsequent values (legalizing marijuana, marginalizing the place of religion in public life, multi-culturalism, and diversity in everything – to name but a few) will continue to develop.  There is no reason to believe that the children of Millenials will be more churched than their parents unless there is another Evangelical Awakening. 

2.       Second, Evangelicals and Roman Catholics will find evangelizing younger generations will be very difficult if that means converting them to one man and one woman view of marriage.  Polls show that younger people already see Christians as judgmental and homophobic. 

3.       Episcopalians and other mainline churches will find that being “inclusive” will NOT lead to evangelism among younger generations.  Just because a church shares a Generation’s values does not mean that they will join the church in any substantial numbers.  (You can add to this the fact that Progressive Christianity has a very poor track record in evangelization of any kind.) 

This means that evangelization among post-Christian secular people must be substantially different and will be harder than in other eras. Knowing this demographic information should allow church people to better understand the changes taking place and stop us from just reacting positively or negatively to each change.  Knowing this should also lead church leaders to the recognition that developing strategies for reaching Survivor and Millenial Generation people should become a top priority.  Whether it will remains to be seen. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is It Possible to Grow the Episcopal Church?

This is the question put to me by a seminary classmate of mine who is serving a smaller parish part-time in retirement.  I have taken my initial response and elaborated on it for this blog.  
The first thing we should acknowledge right up front is that most of our current leaders do not think this is possible.  They give a number of reasons such as: 

                All Mainline Churches are in decline

   We are a denomination with older members

                Young people are not interested in Institution religion

                We are not interested in numbers but quality

                Secularism and Atheism are replacing faith

 Many of our churches are doing a lot of outreach and many are inclusive places.
We don’t need to focus on growth

Growing Churches are offering simple explanations to people.  We Episcopalians are too sophisticated for that.   

I think it safe to say that most diocesan Bishops would be happy just to hold current membership and the number of congregations stable and that few actually expect to have positive baptismal, or attendance increases.  Despite all these stated reasons and more, I still believe it is possible to grow our community.  

Let me start with the big picture.  I will turn to congregational growth, but the big picture and what it would take to change the big picture is important.  First, TEC is declining because only about 18 to 20% of Episcopal churches are showing numerical growth.  About 20% more are stable and nearly 60% are in decline with some of these in steep decline even to the point of closing.  In other words, the growing congregations cannot sustain the losses in other congregations.  If this balance of growing and declining congregations continue, it means that our current decline will continue for some time.  
The last time we were growing, from 1995 to 2002, about 35% of our congregations were growing, 30 to 40% were stable, and the rest in decline.  During this period, we were the only mainline denomination showing positive growth in baptisms and average Sunday attendance.  You have probably heard people say the Decade of Evangelism didn't work, but the numbers show differently.  This is one of the untold stories of TEC. 

Of course, no one joins the denomination except on the local level, so we need to turn our focus more locally.  We should start with a Diocese.  So how does a diocese get 30% or more of its congregations to grow?  The answer is rather strait forward.  It does this by supporting and developing its current congregations and by planting new ones among new communities and groups of people.  The Diocese of Texas has continued to do just exactly this kind of congregational development since 1993 through 3 diocesan bishops and lots of changes.  Each year this diocese continues to offer educational opportunities such as “The Iona Program,” the “Invite, Welcome and Connect” workshops, and a strong Vestry equipping program.  They also continue a strong peer modeling and sharing where local clergy and lay leaders who are doing outstanding work in some area of ministry share the “how to” with others. 

Let me turn to the congregational level.  I wrote 5 Keys for Church Leaders to introduce the basic systemic issues related to healthy growing congregations.  The chapters on paying attention to generational differences, opening the front door, and closing the back door are aimed specifically at growth.  These strategies have been proven on the ground in all sorts of denominations and even within TEC in all sorts of locations.   I am not the only teacher who offers this kind of information, but I mention it because I know firsthand that it gets results.  What I am saying is that where there is a will and a strategy of intentional congregational development growth can happen.  We do not need all of our congregations to grow.  We just need more than 30% of them to do it.  

What about changing culture and demographics many would want to ask.  Remember that I pointed to the planting of new congregations in new communities and among new groups of people.  Let me point out that adults between 20 and 40 are “a new group of people” and rather than wait for them to find our declining churches (and our few vital ones) why not start work aimed specifically at them?  A great example is St. Thad’s in Los Angeles, but there are others examples.  There are also millions of Hispanic people in the U.S. not all of whom are Roman Catholics, but many of whom have seen the Church in its catholic and sacramental forms.  We found plenty of these folks when I was Dean of the Cathedral in Dallas.  The Diocese of Dallas trained leaders from our congregation who have gone on to become clergy and lay leaders.  These good leaders have restarted churches and started new Spanish language communities of faith.  Notice I haven’t mentioned the multitude of Africans moving here, many of whom are already Anglicans.  The field is ripe for the harvest, but where are the laborers. 

This raises a critical question about our ordained leaders and why, even though we have lots of ordained people, we have a declining church.  I have written about this in other places, but let me underscore the problem we have. Most of our clergy have been educated in a maintenance culture where they expect the church to be given to them and that all they need do is update liturgy, do the Lenten Program better this year, and talk about being accepting and inclusive and people will come.  Our current situation underscores that this is not working. 

Let me be clear, I am not laying this matter primarily at the feet of our seminaries.  I believe the primary goal of seminary is a sound education in the disciplines of the ordained ministry such as Scripture, Church History, Preaching, and all those other things that I for one hold dear.  However, we should also acknowledge two things about our seminary training.  First, despite all the language in seminaries today about “Mission” and “Leadership” our academic folks are not up to the kind of leadership development that mission leaders need.  Second, the academic model is primarily that if an ordained person has knowledge information and if she or he will teach this, people will follow.  The development of new leaders goes much wider than seminary education.  It starts with how we identify and select candidates for ordained ministry.  It extends through seminary education and continues into the first 5 years of ordained ministry. 

I would like to see regional centers for missional leadership training.  These could be modeled on what Bishop Payne has developed for new leaders.  To this I would add rotating faculties of proven leaders who have planted and developed churches of different sizes and among diverse people.  Remember that 20% of our congregations still are showing positive numerical grow. Badly needed today are clergy who have helped rebuilt once Pastoral Size congregations especially in town ministries that have declined to Family Size Churches of 30 to 40 people gathering on Sunday.  We have them, but sadly they are not the teachers and mentors of new clergy. 

Of course, congregational development strategies are not all that we need to begin to grow TEC.  We also need something else that I would call passionate and contagious spirituality.  Here is how I get at this issue will local congregational leaders especially Vestries. 

I ask these leaders to rate their congregation on a scale of 1 to 10.  1 is "I don't even know why I come here anymore, let along why I would ever invite someone else."  10 is (tears in eyes) "Let me tell you about my church.  My church is my family; I can't wait to go on Sunday to see what will be happening next.  I am loved, accepted, and inspired there and I am challenged to grow spiritually as a follower of Jesus Christ.” 

Most Vestry members, remember that these are many of the most involved members of a church, rate their church between 4 and 6.  Many times I've gotten as low as 2s.  Once is a while I will get a few member who give their community a 7.  Then I point out that places were folks rate their church above 7 are already growing churches.  I share with them that the role of leaders, clergy and lay, are to move those numbers up starting with the next Sunday!  There are lots of ways to do this once a community decides to do it.  There are many strategies that have been proven in other congregations both large and small.  The question before the leaders becomes “are we committed to increasing the quality of the spiritual passion of our community?”  Once leaders understand this as opposed to their work at balancing a budget, mowing the grass, giving the clergy more benefits, or keeping the status quo, the community through its leaders begins to have a sense of urgency.  In other words, there is a work that they must do NOW to fulfill their calling. 

Can we grow TEC?  Yes, if we are willing to take the initiative to bring to our congregations the kind of spiritual vitality that built the community that has been bequeathed to us by previous generations of passionate leaders.  If you are a leader of a congregation or diocese and you are not committed to this task, then you are part of the problem.  As the Holy Season of Lent reminds us, there is great power in falling to our knees in tearful repentance and asking God to kindle a new passion in our lives for the Church for which our Savior was willing to die and rise again.  Each one of us should make our prayer “Lord, renew your Church and begin with me.” 


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Three Questions to Enhance the Effectieness of Vestry Meetings

Effective Vestry Meetings are essential to healthy Congregational life.  Here are three questions to make them more effective.  
After 42 years of ordained ministry and 10 of these spent on a Bishop’s staff, I have attended far more Vestry meetings than anyone would wish.  Believe me when I say that I have seen “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of Vestry meetings.  I’ve also seen to many boring ones.   Since Vestry meetings are an essential part of parish administration, I learned early on to try to learn how to run effective ones.  Over the years in Vestry Workshops, I’ve offered a number of practical suggestions to make Vestry Meetings more effective.   In this blog, I want to share three questions that should be asked at the end of every Vestry meeting.   

1.        What have we decided? 

Interestingly, Vestry Meetings can go on for hours with lots of discussion, even conflict, with very little actually decided.  Some Vestry Clerks are able to record in the minutes an incredible amount of detail.  I’ve seen Vestry Minutes that go one for as many as ten pages.  While such detail may be interesting especially to Parish Historians, they make clarification difficult.  Even when a resolution has been made, one often has to search the minutes for a long time to locate what a Vestry has actually decided.   

I learned this tip from an Executive Secretary of the Board of General Mills.  Board or Vestry Minutes should start with the place and time of the meeting followed by a list of those in attendance.  Then there needs to be an executive summary of actions.  Here is a sample; 

These Vestry Minutes Contain the Following Vestry Actions:
1.       Approved the December Minutes
2.       Voted to authorize the Junior Warden to replace the old hot water heater in the Parish Hall
3.       Approved a 10% increase in the paper budget for the current year
4.       Appointed a long-range planning committee to address the question of adding a Sunday night service 

Note that the summary lists only the actions and decisions of the Vestry.  Discussions of items can be found in the minutes when needed.  The summary does not need to include the official resolution.  This too can be found within the minutes.  This kind of summary is very helpful when Vestry Members wish to look up a decision make months before, i.e.  “Didn’t we already authorize a new hot water heater last year when we began to have problems?”  A quick review of past Vestry Minutes can locate any past action.  This is especially important given the normal rotation of at least 1/3 of the Vestry each year. 

2.        Who is responsible for carrying out or overseeing the decision? 

I warn clergy that if a decision is made and no one is given responsibility for executing it, then the assumption will be that the Rector is responsible.  This is poor and often problematic assumption.  To help the collective memory, I find that actions should also indicate the responsible person when appropriate.  (See #2 in the example above.)  When a Vestry is not clear as to who is the responsible person, then confusion, frustration, and hard feelings often result.   

3.        How should we communicate these decisions?

I have advocated the first two questions for years now.  Recently I read an article by Bob Sutton about effective meetings where he shared what he learned from the Human Relations person, Patty McCord, of Netflix.   

Toward the end of our conversation, we asked Patty about senior team meetings at Netflix and elsewhere. Patty was vehement that, in the best companies, executive teams really are teams and that they make the hardest decisions together. We were especially struck by what she said next: “The most important role I played at Netflix was, at the end of every executive meeting, to say ‘Have we made any decisions in the room today, and (if we have) how are we going to communicate them?’” 

This third question is important and has become even more so for Vestries in the past three decades.  When I was first ordained, most Vestries operated more as “Trustees” of congregations.  Their decisions were seldom questioned because institutional loyalty was a standard for the G.I. generation.  To question a decision was often seen as a criticism of the integrity of the Vestry Members.  However, the change in generations has brought a new standard.  It started with us Boomers.  I like to say it this way, “Boomers consider any decision, no matter how good, made without their participation to be a bad one.”  Younger generations have gone further in expectations regarding the standards in communications and participation. 
So, if I were to give a Vestry Workshop today, I would add this third question and underscore its importance.  It is fundamental to leadership today to be effective communicators even to the point of redundancy.  Good businesses like Netflix have learned this.  Good parishes should learn this.  And we could hope that government at all levels would learn this. 
Want to enhance the effectiveness of your Vestry Meetings?  Add these three questions at the end of every meeting to build organizational effectiveness and transparency.  Yes, the Church is not a business, but this should never be an excuse for poor leadership practices.  After all, the Church is about the work of God’s Kingdom and this demands a higher standard than that at Netflix.