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Request for feedback

posted Apr 28, 2016, 2:29 PM by Greg Ward   [ updated Apr 10, 2017, 6:26 PM ]

Request for Feedback for Rev. Greg Ward

Although for family medical reasons, I have not been a full time participant in the transition, I have enjoyed and been nurtured and enriched by Rev. Ward's time with our congregation. His sermons have, in various ways depending on the topic, skillfully blended his deep personal experience and eclectic background in science, social science and theology to create a stimulating and rewarding experience for me, and they have often moved me deeply.

His role in our church's transition has been nuanced and complex. From my perspective Rev. Greg faced at least four serious organizational concerns. I list them here because they presented significant  problems the required much of his attention. 1) Over the years our congregation had gradually come to rely on the Ministers and paid staff to provide most management services and the worship experience. Although we have a group of extremely generous, skilled and dedicated people volunteering their services, they were a small percentage of the congregation. 2) We had an unsustainable budget for financing church activities in the long-term. 3) Much of the congregation had become separated into interest groups that used the church as a meeting place but weren't much connected to it's daily functioning. 4) The congregation had been dealing with a repressed and unspoken “After Pastor” experience that occurred more than 20 years ago well before our last ministers took office. When that topic recently surfaced, it created great pain for those who had loved and felt nurtured by that minister and for those who felt betrayed by his abuse of authority. This created an organizational disfunction characterized by generalized loss of trust that results from betrayal by an authority figure and ensuing apathy among many of the congregation.

Rev. Greg faced the challenge of diagnosing the subtle and often obscured expression of these complex organizational problems and creating a strategy to address them. He brought to our congregation his professional experience as a skilled organizational consultant, theological training, previous ministerial experience, and his ability to engage in deep personal introspection. From my observations, he also maintained a disciplined, professional, objective and compassionate relationship to the process and the congregation. In brief, he held up a dispassionate mirror to our congregation. He helped us identify the nature of existing problems, our strengths and weaknesses, what needed to change, how we wanted to experience ourselves in the future, and he provided a  process and road map for accomplishing this.

I have observed that some people wanted Rev. Greg to provide a more hands-on directive approach and personal involvement in the details of problem solving and implementation. In my professional experience helping to strengthen small non-profit organizations, an effective consultant helps people begin to see their organization in a more objective light. They support a participatory diagnosis of existing issues and desired goals, and they provide a process (or road map) for designing a strategy to achieve the objectives. Then they let the organizational members learn by grappling with the details of implementing the strategy. They don't directly manage the detailed implementation. In order to grow and change, both individuals and organizations need to struggle with the discomfort of feeling at loose ends that always accompanies change in order to discover and experience their strengths and weaknesses, and develop the perspectives and skills to achieve their objectives.

From my observations, I think Rev. Greg lead us through this process skillfully and with great insight and objectivity. I can say to any church looking for an interim minister that Rev. Greg will provide expert diagnostic capabilities and organizational assessment. He will help develop a vision of where you are, how you got there, where you may want to go, and he will provide an effective process for navigating that effort. But, he probably won't do it for you. He will also provide exciting, informative, inspiring, often very moving sermons. I will miss his energy, intellectual perspective and wisdom.