Archives For Jennie Barber

JBarberPreparation for retreats with church leadership groups, and particularly the session, typically involves the following elements: some brushing up on the PC(USA) Book of Order, gathering voluminous amounts of big-sticky note paper, creating or refreshing some PowerPoint presentations for the visual learners, and making sure there is enough coffee. Or maybe that’s just how I typically prepare. These elements are important and have been effective, but I came across a great new resource that I’m adding to my preparation toolbox for our session retreat this year.

In cooperation with several partners, the Synod of Mid-America has developed Theoacademy, whose goal is to provide faith formation for Presbyterians by offering “the finest theological education they can get short of attending one of our 10 seminaries.” Theoacademy offers video lessons for new members and ruling elders and deacons, with plans for more curriculum in the future. Not all of the videos are Jerry Bruckheimer blockbusters (i.e. Pirates of the Caribbean, Top Gun) but they provide a great starting point for discussion. (Lessons for new members come with study guides and study guides for ruling elders and deacons will be available soon.) One video in particular grabbed my attention as I thought about pastors and elders serving together as leaders. In less than 15 minutes, this film discusses three crucial leadership tasks (view the film here: Being a Leader): Continue Reading…

I Heart Meetings?

Jennie Barber —  July 10, 2014

JBarber“What were you most excited about when you got into ministry?”

“Definitely the meetings.”

Said no one ever.

Mere mention of the word “meeting” conjures up feelings of dread and groans of lamentation. Seminary may have prepared us to dissect a dense paragraph of Barthian theology or exegete a difficult scripture passage, but it didn’t get us ready to sit in painful budget meetings or multiple committee sessions. While we might prefer an hour or two spent with our Old Testament theology books, such opportunities are rare. Time spent in meetings, on the other hand, is pretty much a guarantee. Continue Reading…


Jennie Barber —  June 19, 2014

JBarberChange two letters to the opening song of Fiddler on the Roof, and you’ve got a theme song for pastoral ministry—“Transition!” (Are you picturing yourself belting it out through the streets of your city?) Much of pastoral ministry occurs at the intersection of life’s transitions—birth, marriage, death, etc. We are privileged to stand with people and witness God at work, watching for the movement of the Spirit in those thin places where earth and heaven meet. Transition occurs not only in the lives of those in our congregations and communities, it also happens as we continually seek God’s call. Any time of transition in ministry can be challenging, marked by grief and confusion. Leadership transitions provide an opportunity for pastors and congregations to experience healthy and unhealthy change. No transition will be easy and seamless, but I’m going to offer a few very practical suggestions I believe help smooth some of the rough patches on the rocky road of transition.

Clean up, clean up… Remember that box of 1970s VBS curriculum that was sitting in your office when you arrived your first day? My guess is it hasn’t done much besides collect dust. If you’re able to find someone who wants it, make the donation. If you can’t, find your way to the nearest trash/recycling facility. It may seem obvious, but you will be doing a huge favor to the person stepping into your role if they don’t have to spend weeks sorting through the junk you inherited. Continue Reading…