Right out of seminary I was given 5 churches to serve. The smallest had 3 people on a Sunday morning. The pianist did not attend. Another church did not want to be part of our denomination and their piano player was deaf. She handed me a list of about 20 songs I could use. The largest church had 39 people and potential, or so I thought. It was next to an elementary school. As the new pastor, I called a meeting. No one came. Wha? Wait, the Bishop laid hands on my head, and told me to “TAKE THOU AUTHORITY!” I did! I used it to call a church council meeting, and no one came.
I served subsequent churches in various capacities; associate, part-time generalist, solo pastor. I enjoyed some aspects of ministry, yet as years went on each pastoral experience was accompanied by an increase in depression. Something was not quite right.
I was most lit up when I attended continuing education events. “Hi, my name is Annette, and I am a continuing education junkie.” I love learning. I would go to an event, get so excited, come back to the church, try to implement all my new great ideas. Brick wall. Dead end. “We’ve never done it like that before.” Repeat.
Then it happened. Dream job! A staff position for our conference to curate and create continuing education for 900+ clergy. Again, with the implementation and the brick walls. Politics. Stress. Asked to do a job and not given support structures to do it. Resign. Failure. Deep depression. What is wrong with me?
I decided I wanted to do the dream job on my own. But first I had to try to figure out why I couldn’t do my dream job, and why the implementation of things was just so damn hard! I heard about this field of study called Organization Development.
I felt called to go back to graduate school. I had JUST paid off seminary. I knew from prior experience though to pay attention. I was not sure why; I just knew I was supposed to go. MSOD here we come.
First session, LIGHT BULB!!! AHA!!! I know why I am here! I found myself saying (to myself) “PASTORS NEED THIS!!”
I was astounded that there was this field of study that dealt with IMPLEMENTATION of ideas and CHANGE in organizations. I could not believe (and was rather miffed) that no one ever taught me this! I had been trying so hard all these years to be a good leader, grow my churches, set up a program to support clergy in their life-long learning.
In seminary, I learned to do all the churchy things really well. Preach. Teach. Care. Craft worship. Marry. Bury. Then I was handed the keys to a franchise. I didn’t know how to run the thing.
Herd cats? Not so much. Lead an all-volunteer organization? Nope. Get people to buy-in to an idea? never mentioned. Leadership? Not at all! Nobody offered me a class on how to get more people to do more things, especially the things that matter! No one taught me how to show up powerfully so that I could have a positive impact just by being authentically me.
So, I am on a mission. I help clergy get lit up about ministry. I combine coaching and consulting (coach-sulting?) to fill in the learning gap between seminary and what is needed in the real world of leading change in a congregation.