In the 8th grade, my school psychologist did a psycho-educational evaluation to determine why I was struggling in school. My teachers feared that I would not survive high school. Her evaluation determined that I had both an auditory processing disorder and “Attention Deficit Syndrome”. It was suggested that further testing be done. It wasn’t. Instead, I spent my time in high school developing coping skills to help me manage my work. I’ve continued to develop those skills in my professional life.
That experience is what helps me to look at systems, evaluate them, and figure out creative ways to make them work for more people. It’s not a superpower – as some might say – but it is a valuable skill that helps me to see things in ways that others may not. In fact, seeing is an important tool for me, just ask anyone who’s been into my office and witnessed the mosaic of post-it notes that decorate my walls.
Recently, I used this skill to look at the structure of our presbytery and our standing rules. I’m doing this partially because the structure is not working for me and I believe it is not working for others as well. Let me be clear that I don’t think our structure is bad. It has just been hard for me to visualize how all the pieces fit together. When I returned to the NJ Missional Invitation documents, I was reminded that there was an intentional decision to move away from the language of structure and replace it with the language of community. This is why I decided not to create an org chart but instead create a presbytery map.
As I thought about how to visualize our map I began to sketch out some of the boundaries provided by our polity. During this process, I started moving things around and rethinking how things relate to one another. As I created new possibilities, I asked people for feedback to see if what I was creating made sense. After processing the feedback, I would go back to my sketches, make adjustments, or create something entirely new. I’m on map version 4.2 right now.
In the weeks ahead, I will share my vision for an updated presbytery map that I believe will work for more people. Some of the updates are philosophical in nature while others are practical. Most of them are minor but they may challenge the way we think about how we work together to become a missional presbytery.
As I share my observations and ideas for improving our structure in the coming weeks, I look forward to your feedback. How is the current structure/map working for you?
Organizing Co-Leader & Resource Presbyter