This week, while at the Gettysburg Seminary library, I picked up a copy of Pathway to Renewal: Practical Steps for Congregations, by Daniel P. Smith and Mary K. Sellon (Alban Institute, 2008) [Click Here for reference] and see that they use the same image for what they call the “Balcony Team”. The Balcony Team plays an important role in the process of missional renewal. In a congregation a balcony team:
- keeps a big picture view of the congregation and its journey through renewal
- helps the congregations leaders continually reflect on how their congregational life can contribute to achieving its vision
- encourages and supports leaders in making needed changes
- monitors the congregational “temperature,” (satisfaction, conflict) keeping the board apprised of the impact of renewal efforts on the congregation.
- keeps the vision before the congregation and monitors the actions against the adopted values
I remember working conferences with Shelby Andress from Search Institute, where she would appoint certain people to be “village philosophers”. They would simply wander around during the day and then report to the group from time to time on what they saw happening in the big picture.
Call it what you may, the point is that there needs to be a group that looks at the broad perspective of how the renewal effort is going in the congregation as a whole, how it might be improved, and what people are not being reached. They are the bearers of God’s vision and the trustees of God’s values. This could be the church council or the board of elders, but the idea of an independent “balcony team” may be even better.