Thursday, October 19, 2006

Multi-Point Charges

One of my classmates proudly boasts of appointment to "the last three-point charge in the South Georgia Conference." These multiple-congregation pastoral charges are, of course, a product of American Methodism's frontier days of circuit riding. Although they used to be the norm, multi-point charges are increasingly rare. I've heard some voices say that it's better to have a part-time local pastor in one church than a full-time local pastor (or commissioned or ordained) over several. What do you think?

Should the UMC continue to have multi-point pastoral charges?


Sally said...

I work within a collaborative ministry team- there are 4 members of staff, two full time Ministers and two half time layworkers, we work across all 10 churches ... the point of collaborative working is not only that our gifts are recognised and made the most of, but also that church members are relaesed into ministry according to their gifts. It has taken a bit of getting used to but works quite well.

TN Rambler said...

I don't know about where you are, but there is a lot of ministry going on in multi-point charges. Are they efficient? Can't answer that. But is God using the multi point charges? You better believe it!

Oh, and John, there is really no such thing as a part time local pastor. You may have another job to pay the bills, but the ministry is full time...and may God bless those who do the work.

John said...

Wayne, to clarify: I have no opinion on the subject.

Lorna said...

I'd like to see more team leadership - bivocational minsistry and more part time pastors / church workers. (or actually paid part time)

We all minister in church - but some are paid to do it - and I'd like to see more lay leadership, part time pastoring, and a lot more co-operation between local churches ... including interdenominational outreach and pooling of resources.

Elizabeth said...

We have many multi-point charges in NCNY. I grew up in a three point charge. I think that the better model is multiple pastors at multiple (more) charges, than one pastor at multiple (fewer) charges. I am so thankful to just have ONE church to take care of. That's enough for me!

TN Rambler said...

Apologies are in order. The tone of my post was more harsh than I intended. The point that I was trying to make is that the multi-point charge still has a place in our connection and should not go away.

That being said, I'm glad that I only have one church on the charge!

John said...

And on beautiful Stone Mountain. How I envy you!

Andrew C. Thompson said...

One time I heard a pastor who served for a time on a circuit in England give an opinion about this. It went something like this:

Our rural, small membership churches deserve to have good leadership and a "place at the table" within the annual conference. The problem is that no pastor is angling to get a 3-point charge (with the possible exception to local pastors who want to serve in the location in which they live and have no desire to itinerate).

So one solution would be to adopt a model similar to circuits in British Methodism. Have a team of elders and deacons who agree to serve on a rural church circuit within a district. Then rotate them every few weeks, all the while meeting together with their D.S. (or another selected "leader" figure among the elders) on a weekly basis to discuss ministry ideas, sermon topics, pastoral care concerns, etc.

I think that sounds like an interesting possibility, and one that I wouldn't mind being a part of myself. What do you think?

Keith McIlwain said...

Multiple-point charges certainly aren't rare in Western PA Conference...they're the norm.