Single Board Governance and Local Mission
David Beckett, pastor of Bend Church, has been serving the Bend community for seventeen months now. He shares this reflection of where the journey has gone for the congregation since participating in a consultation process with the annual conference, adopting a new leadership program and focusing on the community:
I was appointed as pastor of Bend United Methodist Church in July of 2014. They had been through the consultation process, had their prescriptions, and had begun using the single board governance model. I had a steep learning curve as I had not been exposed to this model. There were a few bumps during my first year as our leadership worked hard to put the model into practice. Thanks to Chris Waller, our Council chair, we are out of first gear and into second.
At our September meeting we set our focus for 2016 which was to expand our ministry with the poor. It is my job as pastor to lead the staff and ministry team leaders as to the specific ways we would address this goal. For over four years we have been serving a hot breakfast to 100 people every Wednesday morning. It’s called the Back Door Café. After listening to several of our homeless friends we learned that there is a need for a day center in Bend. No one else is providing this service. A day center was a dream of Lisa Radford’s for many years. After several months of community research, networking with community agencies, we finally asked one question. “Why couldn’t we have a day center here at church?”
They say that much of good leadership is asking good questions. This simple question ignited a passion among many of our people. We prayed, dreamed, and planned. We had the biblical imperatives about loving and welcoming the stranger and seeing Christ in the face of the poor. We had the pre-approval of our Council using the single board governance model to set direction rather than manage. All lights were green! Well, almost. We did stir up some folks who were concerned about building security. I listened to them and addressed their concerns by securing funding and hiring a homeless man to do just this.
We didn’t have a detailed business plan which disappointed some people. We were responding to the movement of the Spirit which doesn’t mean we didn’t plan. We just did not spend lots of time thinking through every detail before we acted. Winter was coming.
On November 4 we opened our Day Center with a blessing and a prayer. We started with a computer lab, showers, and a place to talk, drink coffee, and play board games. We have plans to host community groups who will provide medical, counseling, job, and legal services. We also dream about offering bicycle repair, music, and art.
On our first day a volunteer helped one gentleman set up his first email account. And he got to see photos of his grandkids on Facebook! Our church volunteers are spending time knowing people and developing friendships. Two persons who live in their cars are running our shower operation, so it’s a cooperative venture, truly ministry WITH the poor.
We don’t know where this will lead. We just know that God is the driver of this car. We are humbled and grateful to be along for the ride.