Discernment Update from Anna Strickland

Last week, our Sunday morning discernment discussion engaged the practical and immediate question of leadership. As we’ve been discerning the larger questions of UBC’s future, we’ve also been doing so in preparation for the new leadership of University Baptist Church. Since we are a Baptist church, we understand “leadership” to be inclusive of both our professional staff and our lay leadership structures, such as the Church Council, Deacons, Sunday School teachers, and church officers. Keeping this in mind, our question was, “What church and leadership structures as well as leadership strengths — in staff and membership — are needed to be a more beneficial presence in the university neighborhood?” CLICK HEREĀ to view the notes available on the Discernment page. Here are some of the things I noticed.

A repeated theme through the conversation was making sure that each person’s skills and passions match their role. We talked about mapping our spiritual gifts, empowering those who have a particular passion to take the reins, ensuring our leaders have the training they need to do their job well, valuing experience and education, mentoring new leaders, and leveraging our connections to fill needs we may not be able to fill with the skills already present.

Another theme was simplifying our structures to be more empowering, accessible, and responsive. Some of our sister churches were held up as examples of good lay leadership structures that empower members to take the lead in certain areas while not overburdening the congregation with more roles than we can reasonably fill. There was also a desire expressed for the lay leadership to focus on mission and ministry as opposed to operations and administration.

Throughout, and most importantly as a Christian church, we emphasized a desire for qualities in our leaders that emulate the servant leadership of Jesus Christ, qualities like humility, a heart for reconciliation, patience, respect, encouragement, and love. Qualities like passion, curiosity, innovation, decisiveness, flexibility, and activism also reflected our desire to be a church that works toward the betterment of our community in new and exciting ways.

There is no one perfect leader who is going to embody all these qualities. (Jesus has left some impossible shoes to fill.) But God has endowed University Baptist Church with an abundance of gifts already, if we will only let the Spirit guide us to be good caretakers of those gifts as we seek to build the Beloved Community.

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall as we start to bring all the pieces together. Who has God created us to be? What new life is Christ birthing in our midst? Where is the Holy Spirit leading us? You are a vital part of this conversation, and we thank you for sharing your wisdom.


Anna Strickland
Discernment Committee Member

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