Pastor & Parish
Combining videos, workbook content, guided discussion and complementary readings, Pastor & Parish is a six-session series for United Methodist staff-parish relations committees that ties the committee's responsibilities back to their spiritual beginnings. Order the curriculum.
The Pastor & Parish program features the following materials:
- Video Series (DVD) – Beautifully filmed segments feature theologically-framed commentary by the Rev. Ed Moore, a United Methodist pastor and former district superintendent now serving as educational programs director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative. Each session also includes perspectives from United Methodist clergy and SPRC members, offering rich insights into how the ideas presented in the series take shape in the local church. Preview
- Participant Workbook – Serving as a companion piece to the DVD, the workbook includes questions designed to elicit individual reflection and candid discussion. Using this resource as a guide, your committee members will explore the ways in which they can increase their effectiveness and further the work of the church. Preview (PDF)
- Facilitator Guide – This step-by-step manual prepares your SPRC Chair or another member of your congregation to lead your committee through the program, offering tips for fostering effective discussions. Preview (PDF)
- Complementary Readings – Access articles, books and websites to help your group delve more deeply into the topics introduced in Pastor & Parish.
When you complete Pastor & Parish, your SPRC will have formed important bonds, discovered new language for working with one another, and created a covenant to guide its work as a ministry of the church.
Each weekly session is designed to last 75-90 minutes.
Session 1: Baptism
Have you ever thought about your presence on the SPRC as a ministry? This session encourages committee members to understand their work as a response to their baptism and to approach their responsibilities to the pastor and the congregation with care and respect.
Session 2: Discipleship
We will explore the nature of Christian discipleship and the ways in which SPRCs can partner with their pastor to fulfill the larger mission of the United Methodist Church: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Session 3: Sacred Bundle
Each church has its own traditions, taboos, symbols and artifacts that constitute local church culture. But unless they are named, they remain hidden to a new pastor. We’ll discuss the SPRC’s role as narrator or interpreter of your church’s unique character.
Session 4: Truthful Naming
We will explore tools that will equip your committee to deal responsibly with conflict arising in your congregation and “speak the truth in love.”
Session 5: Stewardship of the Pastor
How does your congregation care for its pastor? It’s a demanding role, filled with obligations to the congregation, the community, and the larger United Methodist connection. We’ll explore ways that the SPRC can foster a supportive environment that promotes the well-being of the pastor and his or her family, and consequently, the health of the church.
Session 6: Covenant for Ministry
In its final gathering, your committee will discuss ideas from previous sessions that you would like to see reflected in your work as a committee. You will begin the process of constructing a covenant (or amending an existing one) that reflects the journey you will have taken during this study. This document is specific to your parish setting, designed to complement other assessment tools that your committee may use.
How do I purchase Pastor & Parish?
Via this website: visit our online shopping cart to place an order.
How much does the program cost?
It varies, depending on the size of your committee, but a group of 12 can take part for less than $130, plus shipping and tax.
Who should participate?
Pastor & Parish is designed for staff-parish relations committees, but our hope is that it will foster conversations that enhance the overall work of the church. Therefore, we encourage other key leaders within the congregation, such as the chairs of Church Council or Nominations, to join the group in completing the program. We encourage pastors to participate alongside their committees.
Who should lead the group through the program?
Each participating committee should select a committee member or another member of the congregation to lead your group through the program. The facilitator guide provides all the information needed to guide the group, and a preview is available online. We strongly discourage pastors from serving as facilitators, as one goal of the program is to build leadership capacity within the church.
What is required?
Committees should agree in advance to set aside the time needed to complete the study: generally 75-90 minutes over six gatherings, plus an introductory session and time to refine a covenant after the program concludes. To participate, each participating committee should purchase a planning kit and enough participant workbooks for each person in the group. Beyond the program materials, the group will need access to a gathering space and the ability to play and project videos on DVD. The online preview of the facilitator guide explains these requirements in detail.
Should we incorporate this program into our regular SPRC meetings?
Please plan to gather at a separate time, ideally weekly. Pastor & Parish is meant to be a formational activity, filled with prayerful reflection about your committee’s service to the church. The Sunday School hour may be the ideal “set-aside” time for this study to take place, emphasizing the formational aspect of this ministry, as well as the practical training. We hope that you will apply these learnings when you gather for regular SPRC meetings, but it would do a disservice to both activities to try to combine the two.
Are additional resources available?
Yes! Links to a variety of books, articles and web resources are available via our Additional Resources page.
Praise for Pastor & Parish
“I think it’s the most effective SPRC guide that’s ever come across the table.”
“It gives the staff-parish the tools to appropriately do their work. It takes the adversarial perspective out of it. You can practice truth telling, and do it in a way that does not tear down individuals.”
“I think that it really helped them to understand their role better. They’ve been a lot better support for me. They understand more about the demands of ministry; they also understand more that it’s not just doing HR work. Instead, they put it in a theological framework, which really changed the way they approach things.”
– United Methodist pastors, one year after their committees piloted the Pastor & Parish program