Maintaining Spiritual Connectedness Over an Entire Ministry by Elders in the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Green, Charles W., "Maintaining Spiritual Connectedness Over an Entire Ministry by Elders in the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church" (2007). Doctor of Ministry. 201.
What can be done to maintain the spiritual connectedness of pastors over their entire ministerial career? Can the focus remain on fulfilling the call and not on climbing the ladder? United Methodist pastors begin their journey amidst the excitement of allowing their strangely warmed hearts to be used by and for the purposes of God and the furthering of God's Kingdom. There is something mystical and mysterious that transpires when the Bishop places hands on the heads of the ordinand that fairly screams of something much larger than self. In other words, there is an overwhelming feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit as the journey begins.
Unfortunately, the experiences of serving in the local church, the day-today encounters with the processes of planning, budgeting, counseling, etc., and the routine of being the pastor in charge exact a heavy burden upon the spiritual connectedness of many United Methodist Elders. Soon the issues of appointment, apportionments, adjudicating disagreements, and advancement by serving on various Conference committees seem to take precedence over serving God and God's people in the place where one has been sent. This situation leads to key questions: Why is this so? Where does the priority of the Spirit give way to the precedence of the moment? What can be done to prevent this from happening?
In order to address this problem, this paper will examine the Wesleyan concept of "connectedness." The author of this paper believes the isolation that comes from being a part of the United Methodist system and the "Lone Ranger" mind set is a huge part of the problem, as well as a loss of "connectedness" to the One who calls in the first place. This paper proposes the thesis that a more thorough examination by the Board of Ordained Ministry and accountability partners through a return to the Wesleyan class system with a twenty-first century twist will help Elders maintain focus throughout their ministerial careers.
Chapter 1 identifies the problem, relates it to the concept of burnout, and offers evidence that it exists for many ordained ministers, particularly for United Methodists. Chapter 2 presents biblical materials that demonstrates the Bible's basis for receiving a call in the first place and for maintaining the validity and vitality of that call throughout one's lifetime and ministry, and that the struggle as well as the solution has been present since Biblical times. Chapter 3 uses materials from Christian History and Thought that confirm that the call has been received and maintained by followers of Jesus for thousands of years, and by Wesleyans in particular. This chapter examines Wesleyan history and theology so as to shed light upon the subject, with a special emphasis upon Wesley's "means of grace,' and how that can help to maintain connectedness. Chapter 4 provides historical statistics to show that the problem exists in the North Georgia Annual Conference. Chapter 5 reports the results of a survey of North Georgia Annual Conference United Methodist Elders conducted in conjunction and cooperation with the Board of Elders of the North Georgia Annual Conference in early 2007, as well as personal interviews with Elders who have dropped out of the system and those who have maintained spiritual connection throughout their ministry. As a solution in Chapter 6, this paper offers some suggestions to the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Conference, advocates a return to the Wesleyan class system that was instrumental in the beginning of Methodism, with a twenty-first century twist, and suggests a renewed emphasis upon accountability for the Elders of the North Georgia Annual Conference.