Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Work of the Bishop: Gifts, Communication, Leadership

The work of bishop is defined in The Book of Common Prayer. In Texas, the work is also given particular form by the previous bishops who have served the diocese, and the particular institutions and ministries that have developed over the years. These things, in addition to the vision, mission, and core values set out by the diocese, and the new bishop's gifts and skills, will shape the office of bishop into the future. I believe my gifts, communication styles, and my leadership strengths are important windows into who I am and how I lead.

The Gifts and Ministry Outlined in the Book of Common Prayer:

The prayerbook is clear that the bishop is chief apostle, and evangelist. The bishop is faithful in prayer. The bishop's ministry is rooted in scripture and he or she is a preacher and teacher. The bishop must also have a gift of caring and helping the baptized find their own gifts of ministry. The bishop is the chief deacon, calling the church to be about Christ's work in the world. Finally, the bishop must also be a reconciler and a shepherd.

I am an evangelist and my ministry shows a true concern for those not in a church and those seeking God. My ministry exemplifies this in the work I have done with youth, young adults, reaching out and communicating outside our church walls, and in the coaching I have done with congregations, to help them understand the changing world around them.

I am a member of the Fellowship of St. John the Evangelist, which is an order associated with the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston. I am faithful to a rule of life based upon the Order of St. John the Evangelist. I am devoted to a healthy spiritual practice. I pray for my coworkers, priests, and parishes that I am working with by name on a daily basis. This deep prayer life has buoyed me and aided me when I have had to undertake very difficult work.

Most everyone who knows me well, knows that I love the study and preparation it takes to be ready to preach. Peers would tell you that I love the Bible and study of the Bible, most recently illustrated in the Hitchhiker's Guide to Matthew that I published for the clergy and youth ministers in the diocese. I believe those who have heard me preach would say that I am a gifted preacher. They would tell you that I preach from the Bible and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, motivating people into the personal work of transformation, and then transforming the world around them.

I was confirmed in 1979 with the "new" Prayer Book. Baptismal ministry has been at the very center of my life from the time I took on my Christian journey. This idea of mutual baptismal ministry was more fully developed when I went to a Multi-Cultural Leadership Academy For New Directions, which was held in the Diocese of West Texas at the beginning of my ministry. This bilingual conference looked at how baptismal theology undergirds all that we do in the church, how our ministry is shared among the orders, and that each of us has a role to play.

An example of how this work and deep appreciation for baptismal ministry influenced me is seen in the people who were raised up to new life and ministries in the various places I have served. There are individuals I have worked with who have discovered their own gifts for ministry and undertaken new work like: ESL teachers, worship leaders, ministry coordinators in parishes, spiritual directors, individuals writing sacred music, writing liturgy and prayers, authors, not to mention those who discovered their vocation as nun and priest and deacon.

My father was an Anglo-Catholic priest who instilled in me a deep connection to those without power, the poor and disenfranchised of the world. I have had a ministry that has always been focused on developing outreach work. I have been part of teams who started a large ESL program, Spanish service, Spanish Bible study during a lunch program for seniors, outreach community center and food pantry, and twelve step groups. My father was an advocate for women entering the priesthood, and I have worked carefully to help increase the number of women in ministry in our diocese. I have also worked to increase the diversity of our clergy by placing multi-cultural and multi-ethnic individuals on lists for our parishes. I have worked at a diocesan level since 1997 on Mission Funding, helping us as a diocese be good stewards of our ministry dollars.

In 2000, I began to study mediation and reconciliation through courses at George Mason University in Virginia and at the UT Law Center in Austin. I have over 100 hours of training, and this skill has aided me in developing processes for churches throughout the diocese.

I believe that when I started, we as a diocese had a "storm trooper" approach to conflict, which meant we came in and made things right. I tried this in the early days of my work as canon and believed we could do better. For the last 4 1/2 years I have worked closely with the bishops and the congregational development group to handle situations, empowering the local congregation and clergy to make decisions. My goal is always reconciliation, not just mediation and settlement. I have worked with Mary MacGregor (Director of Leadership Development at the Diocesan Office) to further develop a cadre of mediators to aid us in this work. I believe that this work has touched every part of our interaction with congregations from misconduct to conflict. In this arena of difficult work, I continue to see community conflicts and discord as an opportunity for reconciliation and new life.

Communication Styles:

Alongside these gifts, and this ministry history, I bring a particular combination of leadership communication styles. I am a resonant leader with those I work with. This means people who work with me see my communication styles as a coach, a relationship builder, and a visionary.

I am a coach to those communities and individuals with whom I work. I enjoy helping others develop as leaders and ministers of the Gospel. I am seen by many of my peers as a counselor who is willing to explore goals, values, and strategies, helping individuals or organizations use and expand their own repertoire of gifts and competencies.

I am a relationship builder. I am a collaborator in action. I am most interested in promoting harmony and fostering friendly interactions, nurturing personal relationships that can expand the connective tissue of organizations. I value down time in the organizational cycle which allows for building emotional capital that can be drawn on for the work ahead. I have an ability to sense the feelings, needs, and perspectives of others, caring for the whole, and enabling team approaches to our work

I am a visionary leader. I can communicate where we are going and help create a climate of transformation. This is perhaps my most effective style of leadership, and I believe it has worked as a true aid in supporting our bishop in guiding us through the many challenges we faced in the last 4 1/2 years. I believe in what we can accomplish together. I am able to communicate to the whole our shared objective, syncing our gifts and interests to truly create inspired work.

So what's my biggest challenge? Being a coach, relationship builder and visionary are great leadership skills to have, but when an organization or individual lacks motivation, I have learned that we must begin first with consensus-building. That is why I believe it is so important to understand where you are committed and how we can move forward together in common mission and ministry.

Another challenge for me is balancing my empathy for individuals with the demands of the organized church. I have had to learn that within the church, sometimes individuals must told something they don't want to hear.

Finally, as someone who has a clear vision of the future of the church, I have to work hard to make sure we aren't just working on my vision, we have to work on our vision. People with vision and power are notorious for undermining their own team based initiatives.

I believe that each of these communication styles work effectively together, and I have learned that I also have to surround myself intentionally with great people who can help the team as a whole accomplish the tasks and challenges that are ahead.

Leadership Style:

My leadership style is: I value input. I focus on achieving goals. I believe everyone has gifts to offer. I use resources and past failures to learn. I thrive in environments where I can find solutions to problems.

I really like to seek as much input as possible: books, information technology, and people's voices. I believe we have to seek as much information as possible to be able to be as creative as possible.

I am an achiever. At the end of the day, every day, I want to see what we have accomplished. I love to see core values lead to visions, which lead to missions, which lead to goals, which lead to strategies, which lead to team building, which leads to work, which leads to achieving what we believe God called us to do.

I believe God has a purpose and ministry for everyone. Individualization is one my leadership styles because I can see how each person brings gifts to the table and how, as a team of individuals, we can accomplish great things together. I believe Lone Rangers fail, and that Jesus' model of a discipleship community works best.

I love to learn. That means every new situation presents a learning opportunity for me. I have made plenty of mistakes, but I learn from my mistakes. Sharing what I learn is an important part of this as well. I find that in sharing, I learn from others as I listen to how they have been shaped by their challenges.

Finally, for me, restoration is essential. I love to solve problems. I enjoy the challenge of analyzing the symptoms, identifying what is wrong, and finding the solution. I enjoy bringing things back to life. I can, with others, identify the undermining factor(s) within a problem or system, eradicate them, and help restore something to its true glory.

The Godly Play story of the Good Shepherd is one where the Good Shepherd leads the sheep to safety over hills and into valleys, finally arriving in green pastures. I know that the work of the bishop is to follow the one True Shepherd - Jesus Christ. Yet as apostle and disciple, the bishop must also take his place as a good shepherd. I believe I am called to be a shepherd, and I believe I have the gifts, communication skills, and leadership style to be good at shepherding. You must help me figure out if this is truly my vocation.


What are your communication skills?

What is your leadership style?

Where do you bring these into the service of Christ in the church?

Resources: Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Here is the link: I took the earliest strengths finder by Gallop in 2001 and have been using it as a guide for deployment and vocational discussions for a number of years.

Primal Leadership by Daneil Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee (Here is the link: This book came into circulation in the diocese through the Crosspointes program and I have used it for over a year to help me better understand strategies for improving my gifts in communication and my weaknesses.

Note: Leadership books like this are helpful only if you can connect them with real life examples from your ministry.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Navigating the Future

In the movie Chariots of Fire Scottish Olympic runner Eric Liddell is talking with his sister Jennie. He is trying to convey to her why he is putting off his missionary work in order to run in the Olympic Games. He says, "God made me for a purpose -- China. But he also made me fast. When I run I feel his pleasure."

Colin Welland, who wrote the screenplay for the movie, captures the essence of what it means to be called by God and given gifts to achieve what God sets before you. The Diocese of Texas has a God given purpose to proclaim the Gospel. The bishop and your diocesan staff are there to help.

Sometimes bishops and staff undertake this work, commanding us into the future. It can look like this advertisement for Silva Navigation tools: . While parishes often feel like the lighthouse, we at the diocese can be perceived as the battleship. Power used in this commanding way typically hits a wall (or a lighthouse). People can only take so much dissonant communication. This leadership style uses a pace like a sprint, and does not take into account that we have long-term ministry goals that require pace setting like a marathon. Also, commanding styles of leadership require the expenditure of great amounts of influence to keep everyone in line. If you step out of line in this model or don't keep the pace, the leadership will assume there is something wrong with you and not question the system.

I served a small parish church that grew from 40 to 140 in average Sunday attendance as a restart by the diocese. Having been on the front lines, I remember what it was like to wonder what was going on down there at the diocesan center. I know that some of you think we operate more like this commercial for Becel Heart Health Makeover: After speaking to some of you I know you think that we are ineffective and can't really see where we are or where we are going (or not going).

What I know and understand is that our work is your work -- our purpose in spreading the gospel is getting you the resources you need. We must be about ensuring that you have the right tools for navigating your mission field, and not try to navigate it for you.

In the last four years, the diocesan staff has faced very serious issues that were inherited or that grew out of current events. In 2002, our attendance began to drop. Then came the anxiety and conflict flowing from General Convention in 2003. Following this was the embezzlement of nearly $1 million from the diocese. As fallout from General convention, we had a church plant leave the diocese (St. Barnabas, Austin), another church shrink from a healthy mission down to a restart (St. Philips, Austin). We also had to come up with the funds to build three new churches. Increasing conflicts in parishes, along with rising deployment needs, have created instability in parish leadership. We are not in the flush nineties anymore and the challenges, conflicts, anxiety, and hurdles are coming more often and with greater force.

Despite these events, in the same four and a half years, through the dedication and hard work of the diocesan staff, we have been able to launch the Iona school, Crosspointes, begin the diaconate, increase bi-vocational priests for small churches, move the diocesan center, completely restructure and computerize our finances, and keep unity within the diocese. Having deployed 55 new rectors -- almost 1/3 of our congregations. 80% of churches with new rectors are growing. (A large number of the 20% have not been in their places long enough to see trends develop.) We have doubled the number of clergy under the age of 45. We have almost tripled the number of female clergy who are rectors and priests-in-charge, while loosing a number of very key women rectors to retirement.

What is next?

In 2007, the people of the Diocese created new vision, mission, and core value statements. In the first year of the next episcopate I want us to lay out specific strategies and goals for meeting this vision head on. Because of my resonant style of leadership that values listening and collaboration, once these strategies are developed, I want to take them out on the road. In each convocation, I want to meet with the clergy and laity to get input. I think the bishop should personally roll out the goals and strategies, listen, and engage in the larger conversation. The bishop has to be prepared to make adjustments based on the directions given out by our lighthouses.

One thing I've learned is that leadership can come up with a lot of good ideas and then command them to be undertaken; but, unless these ideas are taken out into the mission field, and those in the field take ownership of the great ideas, nothing will come of it. The bishop diocesan must listen and provide programing, resources, and curricula that are going to impact your work in the field in a positive collaborative way.

Church life is not going to get easier or any less challenging. I have been in the system just long enough to see how we can do things differently and better; but, not so long that my reply to new ideas is "well, we've never done it that way before". I will continue to lead us in striving towards greater efficiency and effectiveness. We also must be in dialogue with the people of the diocese. A vision can be a good thing, but it has to be YOUR vision, YOUR goals, and YOUR strategies.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mission: Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a New Century

We boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God...because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5.3,5)

The Gospel is the light which salvation throws ahead of itself. It is nothing less than the arrival of the coming of God in the Word. (The Way of Christ , Jurgan Moltmann)

The essential work of the Church is the glory of God through the proclamation of Jesus Christ. All ministries flow out of this notion and our unity is dependent upon this most ancient theology. (Ephesians 4.1-7 )

As Moltmann reminds us, when we proclaim the Gospel, we are making incarnate the very real presence of Jesus. The Diocese of Texas has mission in its DNA. We were founded as the first foreign missionary field by The Episcopal Church. From our earliest bishops to our most recent, mission has been a perennial focus of our efforts. Today we are challenged to renew our missionary efforts within a culture no less daunting than planting churches in the wilderness of the fledgling Texas Republic.

Today, "Christians are now the foreigners in a post-Christian culture, and we have got to wake up to this reality if we haven't." (Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church)

Research, conversations, and mountains of experience are offered to us about just what people who don't belong to churches are looking for and expecting from us. I have been studying this new culture, and book after book has the same message and themes.

People outside our churches want us to talk about Jesus and the Bible. Some Episcopalians are comfortable with this, many more are not. We cannot afford to be uncomfortable talking about our faith. These days, it is not politically correct to talk about Jesus. Miss Manners says don't talk about religion or politics. We all love Emily Post and want to use the right fork, but we must be willing to talk about our faith. People who are seeking a relationship with God expect those who say they have a relationship with God to be able to speak about Jesus. We have to be able to speak about Jesus and listen like Jesus.

People outside the church want our churches to be places with discussions rather than just sermons and lectures. We have to respect the intelligence of those who come to us. (This is especially true as we attempt to work with young people and other cultures.)

We must get beyond the church building, and get the Gospel out into the world: book shops, restaurants, coffee shops, homes, offices. We are literally, figuratively, and financially trapped within our buildings! At the same time, we will always need traditional churches, where belonging is so important. Our places of worship must be places where people can gather, think, pray, be quiet, sit together. Imagine churches as urban retreat centers where people can wonder, and be at home, and find sabbath and peace. I wonder how many of our churches and church yards are places of retreat and open to the public.

The church must be a loving place. We must understand our unity and love for one another is essential if we are to love those outside our church walls. In a denomination where almost 75% of congregations report moderate to major conflict within the parish in the last five years, we have a long way to go in this spiritual discipline of love. Yet Jesus was clear, we may have a great commission, but the commandment is to love God and others. (Matt. 22.37-39).

The Church must be proactive in its mission. Today mission includes local outreach, foreign mission, and mission to our environment. This key component of being stewards of God's love and grace for the world means we have a Gospel imperative to take our proclamation of the Gospel and make it incarnate in acts of mercy.

We really don't have to change much of our way of following Jesus. After traveling around the diocese, I have come to understand that there is no single expression of Episcopal liturgy. In fact, we enjoy an abundance of ways to worship in the Anglican tradition. There is a place in our missionary field for the 1928 Prayer Book, Rite 1, Rite 2, Rite 3, contemporary, blended, emerging and any other style we can come up with. It must, however, be authentic. New generations will not be attracted to churches doing the "new-now" worship for the sake of commercializing the Gospel.

To be missionary in this age means that we must review, rethink, and figure out funding for this work. The Diocese must plant churches. The churches must plant churches. We must give permission and room for congregations to plant different kinds of congregations. These needs and the financial costs must be thought out, planned out, and we must venture out. We must look at the cultural and ethnic surroundings, and get into the mission field.

We also must be prepared to try church plants that don't work. Too often we read the parable of the sower and think the work of the church is to ensure that 95% of our planting efforts are seeds only thrown on fertile ground. The gospel message for us from Matt. 13.1-8 is that we must scatter the seeds, knowing full well some will take root and some won't. This is modeling Jesus' own ministry: sowing the word everywhere allowing it to take root as it may.

JoAnne has a beautiful garden. (I just haul dirt and dig big holes.) But she can only prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water, prune. God handles the growing, and we are often surprised at what we get, versus what we expected.

It is going to take vision, creativity, energy, unity, fearlessness, and hope to spread the Gospel in our new age.

Questions for meditation and conversation:

When is the last time you had a conversation about your faith with someone who does not go to church?

If you were raised outside the church and hadn't met a Christian who represents Jesus in a good way, do you think you would like Christians?

How difficult would it be for a 25 year old to get involved in your church in a significant way?

What specific stumbling blocks can you list that prevent people from ever reaching the gospel?

(Questions are from: They Like Jesus But Not The Church.)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Why Elect A Young Bishop?

Our vision of being one church in this diocese is going to continue to need energy, creativity and time. I have hope for this vision and the church it describes. I have energy for the work this vision requires. Whether you choose me to be your bishop or not, over the next fifteen years of my ministry I will continue to work to fulfill this vision. I believe in what we are doing and believe we are engaging in work that changes the world.

Some people worry about electing a long tenured bishop. They worry that the bishop will become entrenched or burned out. But it will take an energetic, long tenured bishop to nurture the promise of our diocese and hold the vision that promise brings to our future.

Thomas Friedman makes the case that the world is flat in the sense that globalization has leveled the competitive playing fields between industrial and emerging market countries. The same flat world dynamic gives us the opportunity to build real relationships with partners throughout the Anglican Communion where we can share our vision of the church and our ministry. Sharing vision across the Communion will take creativity and energy. With an energetic leader, a diocese in the 21st century can engage in this work now.

We will create a younger church together. Our flat world gives us new tools and technologies to create new and widening conversations with young people inside and outside the church. We will become the evangelical church of the Great Commission as we make our mission the real life experience of young people both locally and abroad. We will develop new ministries that relate real life to real vocation, going deeply into the lives of young people so that they can be guided by their own rules of life. Vocational discernment will not be for church professionals alone; it will be for anyone who wants to experience transformation in his or her life. In this way we will create a church that lives in the real world, sharing the Good News of Jesus and leading others in the miraculous transformation of life.

We will follow the Spirit’s lead in building new churches and collaborating in new ministries across the Communion. Different kinds of congregations must be explored, evaluated and planted. We will start new, emerging church communities and traditional congregations. Each will be deeply rooted in scripture, grounded in personal rules of life and nourished by our common worship.

We will build on our successes in local outreach throughout the diocese. What we have learned in one community will be used in developing new ministries in another community. This increase in ministry will only come as we serve and raise up leaders – the master craftsmen of our faith – to share their wisdom and experience in starting new work.

As we work in this common mission the vision of being one church becomes a reality, not just a marketing phrase. When we bring the best we have to offer and share it freely with one another we can thrive and grow in the ever-changing world where we preach the Gospel and live as Christ’s Body.

I promise you that I will use my energy, my time and my creativity to make the church a thriving place for old and young, insiders and outsiders, tenured and newly arrived. I want to lead you in this work now.

When were you first given great responsibility? How old were you? What was the job? How did your energy and ability affect the work? How does your experience inform our missionary choices in the Diocese of Texas?

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Wesleys

Today, March 3rd, is the day when Anglicans and many others remember John and Charles Wesley. What is it that makes the Wesleys so important to the Church? Many Methodists think the Wesleys were Anglicans, many Anglicans think they were Methodists. The truth is they were deeply devoted to all God's people.

Their ministry became historic, because at a moment when our institutional church was not attentive to the individual, they were. They believed that the church had to intersect and engage people in their daily lives.

We talk about Mission. We talk about Evangelism. We talk about "sharing the Gospel of Jesus." But what is the incarnational reality of this Gospel work? I believe that it means each of us has to be so changed that we change the lives of people, and make a real difference in the lives of others.

To live the way of a Christian also means practicing an intimate relationship with God--modeling ourselves on Jesus, who called God "Abba." And this closeness with God, this intimacy, cannot help but have an impact on our relationships with all of God's other beloved children.

We can talk about mission. We can strategize about mission. We can come up with great mission plans. But until we reach across the chasm which separates those within the church from those living in the equally real world outside our walls, we have not engaged in mission at all.

The problem the church has to fight is its own narcissism. It ceases its missionary work, its work with suffering humanity, in order to care too much for the institution. It becomes too protective of the institution, and the executives forget that the Church was created by God not as an institution at all but as the Body of Christ on earth

At these moments the reformers come along. People like the monks and nuns of the Middle Ages, the Franciscans, Luther and Calvin, Tyndale and Cramner, Elizabeth, and then the Wesleys. In our own time we know Martin Luther King, Jr., or in our own denomination Bishop John Hines.

These visionaries change things: but they often become new powers and then become institutionalized. We have continued to believe in this reformation model of doing things. After serving in my office as Canon to the Ordinary for four and a half years, I see the struggle. I see how protecting the church can become a full-time business. Except that isn't our business.

We must seek a more catholic, universal model of stepping out into mission. We have been given resources: they must be unlocked. We have been given diverse worshiping styles: we must use them effectively and not squabble about them. We must embrace different styles of church planting and mission work. Twenty years from now some of our churches will be the same, but many more will be transformed into places with missionary distinction. Where the people in their communities and neighborhoods will know and say, "In those places, those Episcopal Churches, you find God, a God that cares and loves you. That church is filled with people who make a difference in the world around them, they taught me God is with me fact they changed my life."

I believe that we need a Bishop who will protect our gifts, and make them work for us, while at the same time creatively and energetically helping us to do what we were created to do: practice our faith in such a way that it changes the world.

This is what I want to do, with God's help, and yours.

My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease; 'tis music in the sinner's ears, 'tis life, and health, and peace.

Charles Wesley

¿Qué es lo que Texas necesita de su próximo obispo?

Lo invito a que venga y vea que forma esta conversación toma mientras, juntos, decidimos como la Iglesia Episcopal en la Diócesis de Texas se moverá en el futuro. Deseo escuchar de usted: ¿qué es lo que le entusiasma? ¿A dónde desea que nuestra diócesis vaya? ¿Qué es lo que anhela de su próximo obispo?

Este es un blog moderado y solamente comentarios relacionados a las preguntas arriba mencionadas serán puestas y solamente si el autor incluye su nombre.

Yo creo que el asunto más importante que podemos hacer es ser fiel en preguntar las preguntas acerca de lo que Dios propone para el futuro de nuestra iglesia, y siendo fieles a la oración en este tiempo de discernimiento.

A partir del 3 de Marzo, 2008 comenzaré a poner los comentarios.


  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball