Friday, November 13, 2009
Last week I received an E-mail saying that Presbyfest was cancelled due to low registrations. Presbyfest is a bi-annual lay leadership event put on by the Presbytery I serve—the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.
Presbyfest is one of my favorite events that our Presbytery does. I enjoy it because it is one of the few local, lay leadership training events that brings Presbyterians together. I’ve participated in Presbyfest almost every time it’s been offered; I always try to bring a group of people from the church I serve to Presbyfest; I’ve been a workshop leader for Presbyfest in the past and was scheduled to be a workshop leader this year.
Last December I was asked to serve on the Presbyfest leadership team. I was grateful to be asked, but I declined the offer. I’ve decided to curtail significantly my Presbytery involvement for three years. I figure that being the Organizing Pastor of a Presbyterian Church qualifies as significant Presbytery service.
As a leader I am an incurable optimist. When events happen I always look at the bright side and usually spin them from a positive perspective. However, I try to balance my own positive outlook with the facts. Sometimes the facts don’t lead to a positive and upbeat outlook. I remember earlier this fall at Chain of Lakes when we had 12 people attend our second Alpha session after 38 attended the Alpha Celebration Dinner. I was disappointed—and diplomatically shared my disappointment with our Emerging Community.
I’m very disappointed that Presbyfest was cancelled.
My intent is not to point fingers or enter into the blame game. I know many of the people who serve on the Presbyfest leadership team, and I know that they are effective leaders.
One element of an effective organization is to be a learning organization. In his book, “The Fifth Discipline,” Peter Senge wrote the book about learning organizations. I didn’t read the entire book, but I strive to implement the practices of a learning organization at Chain of Lakes After every significant event we do I try to ask the question, “what have we learned from this event?” After our second Alpha event our worship team at Chain of Lakes came to the conclusion that we at Chain of Lakes weren’t as far along in developing the faith habits of our people as we thought we were. We changed the original plan that we had for the start of worship. Instead of starting with a big Grand Opening worship service, we decided to start worshipping ourselves on Sunday mornings. We put off our Grand Opening service until January. I think this plan is better than the original one. I can’t say I’m thankful that we had such a low turnout for our second Alpha event, but I am thankful that we were able to learn from it and develop a stronger plan for our new church.
My hope for our Presbytery is we can enter into a learning phase about Presbyfest. What has the cancellation of Presbyfest caused us to learn? How will these conclusions change the Presbytery’s programming and the way we program in the future?
It’s bad enough to have to endure the cancellation of Presbyfest; it would be even worse if we don’t learn and grow and become more effective as a Presbytery.