A Message of Appreciation for Clergy from Bishop Ken Carter

October 13, 2021

By: Bishop Ken Carter, Resident Bishop for the Western NC Conference

Thank you, pastors, especially in the Florida and Western North Carolina Conferences.

For that to mean something, in this complicated season, I needed to connect it to a conversation I seem to be a part of almost every day.

We need new metrics, new ways of measuring what we are doing, just about now.

I am a baseball fan. Most of y’all know that. Tonight is the wild card game, the Red Sox (hope they win) vs. the Yankees (hope they lose). But I digress. But not totally.

In baseball, in an unusual year, there is an asterisk. Perhaps there were fewer games that year. Perhaps there was a war, or a strike, or a pandemic. Beside the number, there is an asterisk (*).

So, in this season, we need an asterisk. For worship attendance. For financial giving. For new members. For Sunday School. For baptisms.

We stay with it. We offer Christ, we minister to the sick and dying, we read scripture, we contribute to the mission and those in need.

But it is different.

So, by way of saying thank you, I want to begin a robust conversation about new ways of measuring what we are doing, new sets of metrics.

It is, mostly, not about you, and your performance. It is a very different season*.

So, here’s where I would begin:
1. We measure those who worship in our buildings, those who worship outside, and those who worship online. We try to offer different services, perhaps simpler services, perhaps briefer services. We don’t see digital worshippers as “less than”. And when we add up the average of all three* together, we say to ourselves: You. Have. Not. Failed.

2. We measure how many are reading scripture every day and how many are praying every day.

3. We measure, once a quarter, how many are engaged in some form of service to the community and the church. We count this. And we celebrate this.

4. We measure how we are moving into cross-racial, cross cultural discipleship. In relationships. In learning. In advocacy. How many of our groups reflect more than one ethnicity? And how many of us have had conversations with persons across the LGBTQ spectrum? And how do we see the beautiful diversity that is the body of Christ?

5. We measure generosity. Some have been economically challenged during COVID. How are we going out of our way to support faithful small businesses? And some have seen their discretionary income increase during COVID. Less travel, more investment income, simpler lifestyles. How can we give more when some must give less? We count the funds given to and through the church. And we celebrate this.

This is a start. New ways of measuring. We need this, for morale, for self-esteem, and, just as important, to accurately assess the difference we are making.

Thank you pastors. You are making a difference.

I hope you will help me to expand my (our) thinking about how God is using us in this season, a season that is marked by an asterisk (*).

Please share this, please contribute to this—what would you count, what would you measure—but most importantly, please hear this.

This message from Bishop Carter was originally shared on his Facebook page. We encourage you to join the conversation. Click here to see the original post and to share what you would count and measure in this season. 

Would you like to show your clergyperson how much you appreciate them this October? Check out these pandemic-proof ideas from UM Discipleship.

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