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Here’s an interesting article by AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll highlighting the work of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination. Most of you know this movement as the first real gay friendly denomination.  This is an interesting article because it gives, from their perspective, the advances that the church has made in the area of homosexuality.  Here’s a bit of the piece: On that Sunday in 1968 when Troy Perry borrowed a minister’s robe and started a church for gays in his living room, the world was a very different place. Perry’s Metropolitan Community Churches was then a lone spiritual refuge for openly gay Christians, an idea so far from the mainstream that the founders were often chased from places where they tried to worship. Four decades later, some of the most historically important American denominations, which had routinely expelled gays and lesbians, are welcoming them instead. MCC now has a presence in dozens of U.S. states as well as overseas, reporting a total membership of more than 240 congregations and ministries. But as acceptance of same-sex relationships grows — gay and lesbian clergy in many Protestant traditions no longer have to hide their partners or lose their careers, and Christians can often worship openly with their same-gender spouses in the mainline Protestant churches where they were raised — the fellowship is at a crossroads. Is a gay-centered Christian church needed anymore? “There are many more options than there used to be,” said the Rev. Nancy Wilson, moderator, or leader, of the Metropolitan Community Churches. “But there is not a mass exodus.” The denomination has never been gays-only. But for a long time, straight allies were scarce. The founding congregation, MCC of Los Angeles, opened a year before the Stonewall riots in New York. Few people had ever heard the argument that the Bible sanctioned same-gender relationships and no one of any influence in the religious world was saying it. MCC congregations became targets of arson, violence, pickets and, in at least one case, a vice squad. Al Smithson, a founder in 1969 of the fellowship’s San Diego church, said his pastor would point to Orange County’s famous Crystal Cathedral and joke that he was praying for a bulletproof version. The church today is a bit more diverse. MCC pastors say they see a growing number of straight friends and relatives of gays and lesbians among their new congregants, along with heterosexual parents who want their children raised in a gay-affirming environment. While some MCC congregations haven’t changed much over the decades, Wilson said, many are emphasizing a broad social justice agenda including serving the homeless and poor. // Read more here…
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Thoughts from Tim Spivey, the Lead Pastor of New Vintage Church in San Diego on why staff reviews are really important: It keeps communication flowing. Staff reviews are important if for no other reason than this: you and the staff get to practice speaking to one another constructively about awkward subjects. It’s going to be easier to talk about “job performance” or delicate ministry issues throughout the year when you do it more regularly. It’s a chance to say “Thank you.”  All staff have done some praiseworthy things. They deserve to know what those things are. It only blesses people to hear, “Well done.” Do it as often as you can. It’s a chance to offer correction or “tweaks” if necessary. Even the greatest ministers I’ve ever worked with have things they can improve on. In a healthy staff culture, it will be understood everyone is trying to get better all the time. It will be considered a part of the job to self-assess and welcome others’ assessment for the common good. It’s a built-in chance to deal with staff issues you may have been avoiding.  To be clear, staff reviews are not the grease trap for all the things you’ve been wanting to say but haven’t had the courage to. It’s a better time to check-in on things you’ve mentioned already. It’s a great danger to let it all build up, only to unleash it on an unsuspecting minister at a vulnerable time like a staff review. It’s a chance to strengthen the relational tissue of your team. Talking plainly to one another about important personal things builds chemistry. It deepens your relationships. It’s a great chance to get a feel for staff’s “job satisfaction.” I like to ask what I can do to make their ministry thrive, or alleviate suffering where it may exist. I also like to ask how I can be a better partner in ministry to them. Lastly, it’s a chance to reward people. I like to come bearing gifts, when possible. If they are married, I like to do something that will bless the whole family. In lean years, it might only be a gift card. Other years, it might be a pay raise. // Read more of Tim’s thoughts here… Do YOU do staff evaluations at the end of the year? When was the last time YOU were evaluated? Do you find evaluations helpful for you and your staff?  Why or why not? Todd
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