Thinking Out Loud

thinking-out-loudWhat a wonderful morning of worship we experienced last Sunday at our Summer Choir Program! I am so grateful that four of our former Ministers of Music — Carl Beard, Len Willingham, Mike Norris and Kevin Holland — spanning three decades of service, all returned to UBC last Sunday. What a joyful reunion to see them and their families! These four directed our Sanctuary Choir in an “extended musical sermon” preaching the love and grace of God in Christ! Also, many thanks to Alba Beasley, Barbara Moore, our Summer Choir and instrumentalists for their leadership in worship. We are blessed to have such musical talents at UBC!

In other matters, I want to give you an update regarding my proposal for a “creative worship service.” As I continue to receive feedback, you have helped me realize that I had been unclear regarding why I spent two sermons giving details about this proposal before the Church Council had given its approval. While the ministerial staff, Deacons, and members of the Personnel, and Finance committees were already engaged in conversation with me about this proposal, they too have not given me their final approval. That gave the perception that I was not following our usual process for congregational decision-making.

I want to affirm our church’s process for vetting and approving major, new endeavors through both the Deacons and the Church Council before bringing it up to the church for a discussion and vote.  That is our standard process of congregational decision-making and it is a good one. We take a question or issue, step back and take time to process it, and then come back with an answer or well-thought-out and detailed plan. As an introvert, that’s my default methodology.

In the matter of my proposal for a second service, I took the risk to go with an extroverted approach, whereby I have been “thinking out loud” in my sermons and columns. I want to give everyone as much information as possible in real time. I hoped that would give the whole congregation more time to digest this and have conversations about it, with each other and with me. After numerous conversations with church members, I got greater clarity regarding the specific questions and concerns of individuals. As a result, I believe my sermon two Sundays ago was able to address more adequately those concerns.

The disadvantage of the “extroverted” approach is that it is “messier” as I seem to change aspects of my thinking with each new sermon. Also, some may feel that I am disregarding proper process by making decisions for the congregation without proper vetting and approval from our church leadership. I contributed to this confusion because I was not explicit in explaining that I was merely thinking out loud in my sermons about a second service, a new focus on the hospital, and even naming possible staff to lead in these ventures. In my sermons, I stated that these thoughts were not a “done deal,” but instead, they are a matter for prayer and consideration.

From here on out, we will follow the standard process of decision making of our church. During the joint Church Council and Deacons meeting this Sunday, I will submit job descriptions for the Ministry Resident and the Director of Creative Arts positions. I will also submit a rough description of the proposed second worship service. The Church Council and Deacons will have time to discuss fully all aspects of this idea. Afterwards, we will schedule a Town Hall meeting so that the leadership can present this venture for congregational discussion and approval.

It is not too late for you to send me emails, phone calls, anonymous letters, etc. to express your thoughts, concerns and ideas. I want to hear from you!

Thank you for allowing me to “think out loud” during these past several weeks, and for engaging me in conversations that have helped me bring a clearer proposal to our church leaders for their vetting and approval. This is the Baptist way at its best!

 ~ Blessings, Michael