As I spoke to Presbyterian leaders in Northern Kansas on “turnaround strategies,” I saw energy, eagerness, and delight in being challenged.

After my talk, an elderly gentleman approached me and said everything would come around right if people brought their Bibles to church and took notes during sermons.

And there it was: the reality that old ways, old ideas, old enthusiasms don’t just vanish. It’s hard to let them go. They matter to us. Even if I could demonstrate to this man that decline isn’t that easy to explain and a new way forward that simple to execute, he would continue to believe his suggestion held the key.

Leaders need to listen, sift and weigh, and then lead onward.


Q: Why doesn’t the Church (Presiding Bishop, local Bishop, local Diocesan council) respond to any questions? Are they above the people?

A: I have no direct information about how the Presiding Bishop, diocesan bishops or other church leaders respond to the questions that come their way. Apparently, you feel your questions have gone unheard, or those of people you know. I encourage you to contact your diocese again, perhaps starting with the bishop’s assistant.

I don’t think we can imagine how many questions come their way – as well as complaints and suggestions. My impression is that most church leaders take seriously their roles as communicators and pastors. I’m sure they assign some questions to assistants for answering, and I suspect many go unanswered, because of the sheer volume.

In my interactions with them, I have found the PB and diocesan bishops to be approachable. I don’t have any sense that they consider themselves “above the people.” Extraordinarily busy, yes, and getting more so as diocesan staffs dwindle. But not aloof. Still pastors at heart.

Photo of the Hudson River by Will Ehrich