well I've just finished the final draft of a report and discussion paper on lay leadership in worship and preaching in the Uniting Church. It's the result of a couple of years of work and a year of research involving presbyteries, lay leaders, ministers and church councils. we've had a small working group, and my main collaborator has been Lynne Taylor who has worked with us as a researcher and been excellent.
the report is 21 pages and 14000+ words (its very fine print!) and will hopefully be online next week, so then I can comment on it (although my role is not to make comment until the responses come back in).
it's mainly an interesting exercise in how you help an interconciliar church that thinks its is resource-poor attend to the fact that it is resource-rich in every sense, including people. but given the growing role of lay leadership in small, rural and isolated communities, it does seem trite to speak of 'resource-rich' when people feel they are struggling.
the big challenge this week has been to summarise what we think we've learned from the research, and then provide some statements to which people can react, prior to making concrete recommendations in a couple of months time.
i don't know whether I got the last bit right, but I went from writing "needs" and "should" statements to talking about what might "benefit" people, particularly lay leaders. it will be interesting to see if there's a way to agree on desired outcomes, and then help the church be creative in seeking them. far too easy instead to tell various sectors of the church what they "should" do. i now have to think about what/how/who this might involve, and whether indeed its possible to pull off that kind of different approach. there's no question that our discussion paper looks NOTHING like any UCA report that I've ever seen...
so my PhD thesis is only about 6 times as long as this? easy peasy. (I just wish these words had all been for my thesis...) at least now I can get back to it!