Monday, February 11, 2013

Bishop 7 (Bishops Proclaiming)

Some highlights from chapter 7 of William Willimon's Bishop, "Bishops Preaching."  Previous chapters were:

1. Methodists, Alabama Conference in Motion
2. Summoned to be Bishop
3. Bishops Sending Pastors
4. Bishops Cultivating Fruitfulness
5. Bishops as Change Agents
6. Bishops Body Building

Highlights of chapter 7:
  • Willimon's style is to give lots of snapshots from different angles, none of which is the whole picture but that provide a collage of sorts.  The main motif of this chapter would seem to be that bishops need to proclaim the main thing over and over.
  • I suppose different readers will take away different senses of what that main thing is.  Some will no doubt hear that the main message is to make Christians, evangelism.  They will hear Willimon dismissing all those voices in the UM church on all sides preoccupied with issues of sex and sexuality. He sure seems to think that adding believers to the UM church should be pretty high on the list right now in terms of focus.
  • Other readers may lock on to his comments on how we need less "nonbiblical drivel" and more biblical preaching (121). The church needs to hear more of its old message and unlearn some of its new. Of course how a fundamentalist hears these words will almost certainly be different from how he means them. He absolutely doesn't mean preaching more against gay marriage.
  • Perhaps he means "clear articulation of the faith" (123). He doesn't like the shift to calling ministers "pastors." He prefers to call them "preachers."
  • The leader who guards the direction of an organization “must be a big talker, relentlessly reiterating our core values” (118).  In Made to Stick, Heath says, “If you say three things, you don’t say anything” (126. 
  • Truly original ideas rarely stick. An idea “needs communicated at least seven times, seven different ways, before the idea is received” (126, Blanchard). •  
  • “A spirit of experimentation is more needed than one of care, causing, and planning” (122). “Over-planning is often the result of an over-cautious ethos that is afraid to fail” (123). 
  • But “good decisions require good information” (115).  There's the balance.  An organization will probably start to decline if it is averse to risk, but risks should be made with due diligence.
  • “Most of a good manager’s time should be spent with the organization’s best people” (116). But, then again, he emphasizes listening to everyone and the fact that he used to spend two hours a day on email. 
  • UM church does not need more good ideas but “more insights on what we ought to do next” (128). That's instructive for an organization that is stuck in a rut.  It's not innovation in itself that is needed in that case, but innovation that brings results.
What I enjoyed most in the chapter was the four modes of decision making:
  • authoritative - the "my way or the highway" leader.  Worked good in the early Middle Ages.  Not so much now
  • voting - suffice it to say, those with exceptional insight are, by definition, not the majority
  • consensus - ideal, but almost impossible to achieve on hard decisions
  • contributive - it comes last so it must be what he likes (Willimon didn't actually come up with this list).  This is when a leader or appropriate leaders listen to all the voices and then make an informed decision.

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