Jim Lundholm-Eades wrote “Chapter 3: A Six-Month Game Plan” and “Chapter 12: Parish Planning” for A Pastor’s Toolbox. He is Director of Services and Planning for the National Leadership Roundtable. The title of Chapter 3 refers to his basic thesis: the effective pastor concentrates, during the initial six months of the pastorate, on developing relationships.
Every pastor has the duty of teaching, governing, and sanctifying, stated Lundholm-Eades, but sanctifying comes first: “If you’re seen as a person of prayer, as someone who thoroughly prepares his liturgies and preaches well, someone who visits the sick and the homebound and is serious about outreach, then you’ll get through the first six months of your pastorate in very fine shape” (p. 31).
Lundholm-Eades articulated a basic assumption — and a difficult one — of A Pastor’s Toolbox. It is the assumption that the wise pastor has a trusted lay colleague who performs a lot of the day-to-day work of the parish. The chapter distinguishes between managing and governing. Pastors are not trained to manage, Lundholm-Eades argued, and should delegate management to others. The rightful duty of the pastor is to sanctify, teach, and govern, and that includes oversight of the day-to-day managers.
The difficult part of Lundholm-Eades’ assumption is that the pastor must be able, from the start, to exercise effective oversight. Acquiring that skill takes time, however, as Lundholm-Eades admitted. He wrote that the pastor must trust his parishioners. But even the most trusting pastor needs a healthy dose of skepticism. The chapter’s emphasis on the sanctifying role recognizes that the pastor can undertake that role immediately. Becoming a good governor (with trust and healthy skepticism) will take longer.
Chapter 12 is the second contribution to the Toolbox by Lundholm-Eades. Entitled “Pastoral Planning,” the chapter promises the reader “a pragmatic, step-by-step guide through the planning process” (p. 124). Lundholm-Eades argued that the pastor who plans must distinguish between “predictive” planning (which includes the ability to predict the future) and “adaptive” planning (which more realistically acknowledges that things change and the parish must adapt to them). This observation makes planning seem more possible and less daunting.
The pastor must not try to manage all the details of planning, said Lundholm-Eades, but should rely upon “the parish council or upon a special planning task force.” If the pastor feels that existing parish leadership is “underdeveloped and not ready to help him lead planning” (p. 128), he must be prepared to help train them.
Chapter 12 reinforces a point that Lundholm-Eades made in Chapter 3. The good pastor is the one who can “teach and catechize the faithful on the mission of the universal church and set the boundaries of the process,” but should not be a micro-manager. He should “let those who have process management training and expertise do what they are good at” (p. 135). This is wise advice, but devilishly difficult to accept and embody. It requires time and experience.