Fall 2021 CLM Module 1 Homework Assignment #5 of 6

Subject: CLM Homework #5 of 6: The Ministry Covenant

My Covenant for Ministry

When I graduated from Seminary in 1980, I was moving from an environment where my professors told me what to do, into an environment of full-time ministry that was very unstructured. What was I supposed to do?

My DS was not helpful – he told me in 1980 that ministers who work full time should put in a minimum of 72 hours per week.

I stumbled across a wonderful book, James D. Glasse’s classic “Putting It Together In The Parish.” In the book he describes a very helpful concept: Paying the Rent. The idea is that pastors have certain specific required tasks to do … they are like paying the rent. Once your rent is paid, you are secure and can stay in your apartment and the rest of your money is yours to do with as you wish. The “rent” is what you have to do or you get evicted.

Glasse speculated that most pastors could pay the rent in an average of 80% of their working hours. Once the rent was paid, they could voluntarily choose how to spend the rest of their working hours, investing in ministries that were very satisfying and rewarding.

Some pastors, Glasse noted, lived in the “high rent district” and served high expectation churches where it would take 50-60 hours every week just to pay the rent. Some pastors will serve comfortable churches where the rent is easy to pay, leaving a good amount of time to pursue your calling and what you find meaningful – hopefully, that will be you!

Some pastors do what they want to do first, all week long, and get farther and farther behind on the rent. Hopefully, that will not be you.

A “Mutual Ministry Covenant” is a little bit like a lease – you want to read the fine print before you sign it. You don’t want to sign it until the rent is clearly spelled out. If you don’t pay the rent, you will be evicted from your ministry job. Some items in the lease may need to change; some are not negotiable.

Some pastors don’t sign the lease, or don’t even know there is a lease, and discover that the rent is entirely different than what they thought, or that the rent keeps changing based on whichever wheel is squeaking that week.

The fine print in many pastoral leases often has just 7 words: If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

  • In some churches, Mama is the Minister … as if the church exists to serve the needs of the pastor and for the pastor to be happy.
  • In some churches, Mama is all the laity … as if the pastor is doing a good job only if everybody is happy.
  • In some churches, Mama is one grumpy member … and everyone but the new pastor knows who that is.

No one should sign a lease that is not clear. It’s for your protection. Read the lease before you sign it!!!

The most wonderful thing about being a Certified Lay Minister is that YOU get to develop the “lease” for paying your “pastoral rent” and then negotiate this with the local church.

We will spend a large part of our class time discussing what is a healthy Mutual Ministry Covenant. Your Mutual Ministry Covenant will include and describe your calling, your gifting, and everything we’ve discussed so far in terms of what you will do in the parish as a Certified Lay Minister.

Your homework assignment #5 this week is to review several examples of Mutual Ministry Covenants and begin to think of your own:

I. Covenant Community Church, UMC and Dottie Lloyd, Certified Lay Minister. Page 41 in your CLM materials.

  1. What are the strengths of this covenant? Why? What problems would it prevent or resolve?
  2. What are the weaknesses about this covenant? Why? What problems might arise?

II. Quimbly United Methodist church of Port Only, PA. Page 42 in your CLM materials.

  1. What are the strengths of this covenant? Why? What problems would it prevent or resolve?
  2. What are the weaknesses about this covenant? Why? What problems might arise?

III. IGRC Pastoral Expectations Document – download from this website:

THE PAGES ARE LAID OUT TO BE PRINTED and stapled into a booklet. Reading it as a PDF will make no sense.

This 18 page PDF file was written by the Cabinet to prevent conflicts over what the appointed clergy are expected to do. It has been a very useful document for me – I give it to my PPR committee and tell them that this is what I intend to do and to call me on any behavior contrary to what it says. Pages 2-9 are as close as you can get to a Ministry Covenant for appointed clergy.

As you read through it, what surprises you?

What elements of this document might be useful to include in your own Ministry Covenant?

IV. IGRC Model CLM Covenant – this will be a model for developing your own Mutual Ministry Covenant as you go through the program. You’ll work with this next year or later.

V. Give some thought to a Mutual Ministry Covenant for the calling you mentioned in Homework Assignment #4; make notes and work up a rough draft. We’ll share ideas back and forth on what should be a part of it. Please bring it with you to class as a rough draft for you to work on – not necessarily to share copies, although you could if you wish. Each of us will take a turn where you are the leader developing a covenant for the ministry you described in Assignment #4, and we are the members of your mutual ministry team helping you write our team covenant.

Homework Assignment # 6 will be a short discussion of the various “orders for ministry” and which one you feel may be your calling; it will arrive on Thursday or before. I’m looking forward to Friday!

Dave Kueker … blest to be your instructor.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

Note: This post is one in a series of emails to allow discussion as a class via email prior to the first gathering of the class for Module 1 of the Certified Lay Minister program of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference. David Kueker is the instructor and developed these introductory emails.
CLM 0.5, Reviewed: 2-19-22.

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