Why I Value Professional Supervision

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Michael Henderson Leadership Development

APOLOGY: Here is the link to the article Reaching Young People for Christ by Stuart Crabtree

Tasmanian Baptists took the step at our October 2023 Assembly of introducing “professional supervision” as a requirement for accreditation for our pastors. When I first heard this, it sounded to me like more work, and I wondered if our pastors had the time and resources to actually engage with it.  

Then, in November, I went to a national meeting about how our churches engage with issues around safe church policy, reportable conduct, redress scheme, and so on. Heavy stuff. Many in the room were lawyers, and seasoned professionals. I was definitely the odd one out.  

As heavy as the all-day meeting was, I found it inspiring to be in a room full of such passionate and caring people. They were working hard to protect some of the most vulnerable in our communities, while doing everything they could to help churches and pastors to flourish. 

Being People Carers

Then we had lunch. Our talk turned from churches and others to ourselves, and some started to share stories about the toll this kind of work has on them. They shared personal stories from the recent past about being a lawyer, about their personal struggles, and how some of them had almost broken down from the strain. One person said, “It is hard to keep caring for people when it keeps coming day after day. I don’t know how pastor’s do it.” 

As I listened, it occurred to me how a pastor’s job is very similar. Not in direct legal matters, but in the care for people and how it keeps coming day after day.  

Then a lady, close to retirement, shared how professional supervision had saved her that previous year. She began by scoffing at the idea: “I always fought against professional supervision, feeling like it was unnecessary. ‘I don’t need this’, I would tell people when they’d encourage me to do it. I have everything going well, thank you,” she said. 

Then she suddenly struggled to speak, and we gathered around her to support her, and she went on.  

“It was a colleague that noticed I wasn’t doing well. It was her that suggested I see a professional supervisor, and it was her that took me to the meeting,” and she paused again.

“I was not aware of how much I needed it, and how much it could help me. I do not think I would be here today without it. It is one of those things you don’t notice you need until it is too late. I am really encouraged we are getting our pastors to do this.” 

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A Self-Care Posture

This story highlighted for me why Tasmanian Baptists agreed to introduce professional supervision. Yes, there are time and financial costs involved. However, the benefits far exceed these costs.  

We encourage everyone in our churches to take a posture of self-care in ministry. And, we encourage our pastors to do likewise with Pastoral Supervision. We want our churches to thrive, not just survive. 

Michael Henderson

Michael Henderson works part-time for Tasmanian Baptists and is responsible for Leadership Development and attends Hobart Baptist Church. He is an artist, with work held in private and public collections and in 2021 was a finalist in the 66th Blake Prize. 

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Healthy Church Audit Time

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Rodney Marshall Healthy Church Audit

Baptist Churches are each responsible for how they operate and the policies they implement. Baptist church autonomy means it is not appropriate for a central body to set or demand that things be done a certain way. At the same time, the Tasmanian Government Insurers and the community expect that certain standards are maintained. 

The Healthy Church Audit started because of a decision made at the October 2018 assembly. It is now in its fifth year. Some people may be very familiar with the audit and why we do it, but with changes of roles, others may be wondering what it is all about. 

Why Audit?

The Audit is an annual reminder to check that each church has certain things up to date and working in their context.  It offers a chance to reassess and ask: Is this still working for us? Has there been changes in the law or in the community that means we need to make an adjustment? Is our record keeping up to date? 

Covid Safe Plans  

This will (hopefully) be the final year that asks about Covid Safe plans. The government has now removed the mandatory requirement, but given the recent experience, having a plan on how to handle any future pandemics might be wise. 

Pastoral Registration and Accreditation  

Likewise, the Pastoral registration and accreditation systems are changing, and next year’s questions will be a little different. 

Church Financial Health

The Audit also asks about the church’s financial health. It is far better to see issues early rather than dig a hole that you can’t get out of. Having worked as an accountant I have seen many businesses struggle to get themselves out of things when a little bit of external advice could have made a big difference. If only people would ask for help when they needed it! 

Church Financial Information Form

The final part of the Audit is the Church Financial Information form. As part of our commitment to each other the agreed funding model is that each church contributes 5 percent of its income to keep Tas Baptists running. Over the year different models have been tried, based on attendance or number of members etc., The Assembly agreed the fairest method of funding was based on a share of income. For those churches that operate businesses, only the surplus from the business is included as income. 

Forms are due by 30 April 2024 (along with a copy of Financial Reports for last FY) ready to report to Assembly on 11 May. If you have any questions about the Healthy Church Audit or the information gathered, please feel free to contact Rodney on 0407 903 620 or rodney@tasbaptists.org.au 

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Rodney Marshall is Operations Manager for Tasmanian Baptists, and Pastor at Riverlands Community Church.

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