Some Thoughts on Superintending


What part of KNOW do you not UNDERSTAND?
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton
DS/DCM TRAINING, August 23-29, 2014

Usually, there are three major seasons in the life of a District Superintendent: Charge Conference Appointment and Summer time for pastoral consultations.        

ALL:  As a District Superintendent (DS), you have tremendous power.  Use it wisely.  (With a word or words, you are in in a position to shape/influence how the Bishop and your colleagues understand a church and its pastoral leadership.)  DO THE RIGHT THING.  Gabriel profiles Mary.   Haman profiles Mordecai.  Samuel profiles the confused second king of Israel. 

KNOW GOD:  in prayer, preaching, fasting, Bible Study, worship and Holy   Communion, personal retreats, witness and the Wesleyan means of grace (prevenient, justifying and sanctifying).  Reflect on why God has called you to this work. (Think of Jeremiah and Esther.)  Embrace your role as a servant leader.  Like Christ, “you are here to serve not to be served.” (Mt. 20:28, Mark 10:45)  If you feel like Jonah, God can still use you.  It’s not about YOU.  (Jonah 4: 9-11)  Maybe your servant leadership emulates Micah 6:8.  “Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is to every human child…away with all whips, all chains, all compulsion!  Be gentle toward all…; and see that you invariably do unto every one as you would he (she) should do unto you.”  John Wesley[1]

KNOW YOUR BISHOP: you are an extension of her/his office (p. 419). To be  “chief cook and bottle washer” for the District is the expectation at virtually every turn, i.e., in administration, spiritual and pastoral leadership, personnel, program, as chief missional strategist, working with the DCOM and BOOM, appointment-making (what’s important for the bishop?), record keeping, interpreting the Discipline and functioning as a member of the Cabinet and Conference Superintendent (p. 419), offering solutions to problems presented, making conference appointments, and annual conversation with the Bishop.  Don’t speak for the bishop without authorization.  Read his/her resume.   “I look upon all the world as my parish…in whatever part of it I am…”  John Wesley[2]

KNOW YOUR CHURCH: know the Church’s Mission, Structure and How to use the Book of Discipline, know the three C’s: Cabinet (appointed to the Cabinet and assigned to a District p. 424), Confidentiality (what is said in Cabinet ought to stay in Cabinet), Consultation, (Judicial Council (JD) decisions 101, 501, 701, 1174),  Appointment-Making (Open Itineracy-appointments made without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender, color, disability, marital status, or age...), need working knowledge of church and pastoral profiles.  Know about the Cabinet policy book, AC compensation & benefits, etc., planning effective District Conferences.  Know the roles and responsibilities of PPR (p. 244).  Teach PPR at District Conferences.  Know how to resolve conflict.  Take accurate notes in good and bad times.  Someone may file a COMPLAINT against you.  1784 Mission Statement of Methodist Episcopal Church “to reform the Continent and spread scriptural holiness over these lands.”  

KNOW YOUR PEOPLE: their status (elder, ordained deacon, local pastor, diaconal minister, certified lay minister, lay speaker, supply, retired pastor) Conduct annual conversations with pastors, Charge Conferences - presiding Roberts Rules, knowledge of, (p.246), invest yourself in the DCOM and know the gifts and graces of the candidates (p. 666), Ministry of Presence (MOP), important in preaching and nurturing persons who responded to AC invitations to Christian Discipleship.  “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist...But I am afraid they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this will undoubtedly be the case unless they hold fast both to the doctrine, spirit and discipline with which they first set out.” John Wesley  

KNOW YOURSELF: What is your leadership style, its strengths and weaknesses?  Resource yourself; like Solomon in 1 Kings 3:1-15, Bishop and Cabinet and/or CE events).  Can you respect and lead folk with divergent theological positions on race, gender, same-sex marriage, homosexuality etc.?  Are you intimidated by this role, open to growth and development, presiding at Charge Conferences, dealing with conflict, ethnic churches, running an office and being a team player?  Are you running for the episcopacy?  Will you take care of yourself and love the Laity?  Will you practice Our General Rules?  “Do no Harm. Do Good.  Stay in love with God.”:  “I went to America to convert the Indian, but oh who shall convert me.” John Wesley.  Have you been called?       

KNOW THE TIME: Take your off day.  Take time for family.  Take your vacation.   Take time to exercise.  Take time for a renewal leave. (p. 420) TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY.  “I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt that I did in trust in God for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” John Wesley

READ:  “Hit The Reset Button In Your Brain” by Daniel J. Levitin[3]   


[2] ¶419 – The superintendent is the acting administrator of any pastoral charge in which a pastoral vacancy may develop, or where no pastor is appointed

[3] See