September 2014 
In This Issue
Conference discounts
PPCN Board
Conference on clergy isolation
Unhealthy or Healthy Church?
Before the Beginning
shepherd's crook logo

Presbytery Pastoral Care Network (PPCN) is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing professional development, support, and resources for those caring for ministers throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA).
For discounts, use these links when making reservations:

DFW / DAL Airports to Hotel
code:  ELTWT

Conference Hotel
code:  PPC

Looking for a roommate to share hotel costs?  Let us know ASAP and we'll share  your name with others looking for a roommate.

PPCN Board

Dan Corll, President   Email

   Pittsburgh Presbytery 


Stanley Jewell, Vice President

   Presbytery of Denver

Barbara Cathey, Secretary

   Chicago Presbytery

Gary Weaver, Treasure
r  Email
   Presbytery of Pueblo     


Steve McCutchan,  

Newsletter Editor   Email 

    Salem Presbytery 


Susan Holderness

   Western Reserve Presbytery


Ann Lange

    White Water Valley Presbytery

Jim Splitt

   Central Nebraska Presbytery


Denominational Advisors:

SanDawna Ashley

   Mid Council Ministries, Office of the
   General Assembly PC(USA) 

Helen Locklear

   Board of Pensions, PC(USA)

Renew your PPCN membership today!


Individual membership $45

Institutional membership $200


More info

2014 membership brochure   


A note from the Board 
Thank you for supporting Presbytery Pastoral Care Network in its work to provide resources for those caring for ministers in the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Our work is made possible through the purchase of Memberships, attendance at Conferences, and through individual financial support.  

Your tax deductible contribution may be mailed to:

Presbytery Pastoral Care Network
Rev. Gary Weaver, Treasurer
396 W. Archer Dr.
Pueblo West, CO 81007
The PPCN conference next month is on clergy isolation - something we all experience from time to time.  The Board has worked diligently to provide an excellent conference while keeping costs low. There's still time to register - I do hope you will  join us.   Read below for more details.

Don't forget to renew your PPCN membership for 2014, and save on your conference registration!
Rev. Dr. Dan Corll
President, Presbytery Pastoral Care Network
Presbytery Pastoral Care Network 
15th Annual Gathering | October 27-30
First Presbyterian Church | Fort Worth, Texas 
presented in collaboration with
Synod of the Sun





Attend this conference if you....  

care about the health of the church and believe that the healthier clergy are, the healthier our churches will be;

understand that to be in ministry in our anxious age is an almost overwhelming challenge;

have read study after study across denominations discovering that the health of clergy is worse than the average population;

know that even the best of clergy can experience loneliness and isolation, recognizing that when a pastor does get into trouble, a contributing factor is the isolation of the pastor from others who can help him or her process what is happening;


believe that God has called clergy to ministry and want to help other colleagues respond to that call in full faithfulness.


...and you want to.....

take a concrete step on behalf of a healthier church;

join with other colleagues across the nation who share your care and concern;

explore the faith dimensions of this crisis among our clergy;

be introduced to some new strategies in support of the clergy;


be introduced to some new resources that may be of use to your presbytery.


Join with the Synod of the Sun in exploring how we can nurture health in our beloved church. To attend a conference is an investment of time and money. We at the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network plan to offer a rich return on your investment.  


We invite you to download the brochure descrinullbing this conference and decide whether this might be one of the wise investments of your time on behalf of your presbytery and your colleagues in ministry.


Register now and join your colleagues in
strengthening our beloved community.  

Unhealthy Church or Healthy Church?

by Steve McCutchan 



We live in an anxious age and the church is tempted to reflect that anxiety as drawn from the society around us. Brene' Brown, in a recent TED talk on vulnerability, describes three societal responses to anxiety that seem also to be reflected in our churches.


Anxiety is a response to what William Butler Yeats spoke of in his poem The Second Coming: "Things fall apart, the center does not hold." A society creates institutions to order and provide rationality to our society. Consider all the institutions in our society that have failed us-government, military, banks, churches, educational institutions, insurance companies, health facilities, etc. When we lose trust in our societal institutions, our sense of security dims and we begin to feel helpless to protect ourselves in our community.


When people are anxious and fearful, they seek to numb those fears as a strategy for survival.  

In order to numb the fears generated by a sense of vulnerability, unhealthy churches tend to:

Demand certainty in the face of uncertainty. We don't want ambiguous answers to our questions but clear proclamation of definite answers. Give me the three ways to heaven, the 4 habits that will provide a perfect marriage, or the 7 steps to prosperity. Be concrete and avoid complexity and ambiguity.

Want perfection in the face of an imperfect world. Churches should be perfect, clergy should be perfect, community should be perfect. If something goes wrong, it is clear that someone should be fired.


Pretend that what we do does not impact others. As we debate decisions, we do not want someone to ask us to consider how such actions impact the more vulnerable of our society. We do not want someone to tell us that our budget decisions or where we build our building testifies to our faith. Since we have the truth, others need to adjust, not the reverse.



Contrast the above with the characteristics of a healthy church following Brown's research. Healthy churches believe that they are made worthy not by what they do but by God's grace. Therefore by God's grace, they are worthy.


They have the courage to be imperfect. They tell an honest story of a people who are willing to "live the question" without having all the answers. Like Abraham and Sarah, they are on a journey without knowing the final destination but trusting in the God who leads them.
They are not defensive about their faults but are willing to explore them honestly so that they might grow from them towards a maturity in Christ. They know the biblical story of how God chooses to work through imperfect people - Abraham, David, the Disciples, Saul, and believe God can work through them.
Their practices emphasize a blending of gratitude and joy, They are grateful to having been invited on the journey. Doubt and questions are simply the boundaries on the edge of growth.
They trust that being vulnerable to both others and God is the birthplace of creativity, compassion, joy, belonging, and love. Therefore they are not afraid to fail. They dare to let God use their sometimes-limited gifts for great things in the world God loves.
They believe in and practice connectivity. Faith well lived is lived in community among imperfect people who choose to practice their hope in community. After all the doctrinal debates, they know that it boils down to relationships as Jesus declared in the Great Commandment.

Before the Beginning


The pastor search committee has completed its assignment. They have met countless times, read 15 to 100 resumes, done phone or skype interviews with the most promising candidates, then visited a few and invited the top candidates. From the final three or four, they make their choice, make an offer, negotiate details, find their candidate acceptable by presbytery, and prepare their presentation for the congregation. At the congregational meeting they share a narrative of the process they have been through, provide an information package on their choice for the new pastor, answer questions, and take a vote. With a successful vote you call the now newly elected pastor and negotiate the various details of the move and the time when s/he will officially begin as your new pastor.


Now you wait, full of expectations and not a little nervous about how it will all turn out. It's like dating, courting, becoming engaged, and having the wedding ceremony. Along with the myriad of unarticulated expectations comes also some anxiety. Have we made the right decision? How will the future of our relationship turn out?


Before the pastor arrives, the session has the opportunity to engage the congregation in preparing for the new pastor. Invite as many people as you can to a congregational meal.

  1. Share with them...
    • the picture of the congregation that was shared with the pastor;
    • the committee's decision making process about how they came to their decision; 
    • all appropriate information about the pastor and his or her family if there is one. Remind them of the time line for moving into the community and assuming responsibility as a pastor.
  2. Ask each of them to take a piece of paper and write five statements: "What do you hope the new pastor will be able to say about the congregation five years from now?"
  3. Have them share with each other in small groups and select one or two of the statements to share with the whole group. Come up with a list of at least ten top statements about what they hope the pastor will be able to say about the congregation after being with them for five years.
  4. Now invite the group to write five more statements about how the congregation needs to behave if their original expectations are to become a reality.
  5. After these statements have been shared, ask each person to privately write at least one statement about what he or she needs to do to contribute to this new beginning.
  6. Lift it all up to God in prayer.  
Three books to be introduced at the conference

These 3 new books will be available at Amazon following the conference but will be introduced as new resources for the support of clergy at the 15th annual PPCN conference at Fort Worth, TX.



This book offers a fresh resource for clergy support groups. Building on judicatory efforts to counter the problem of isolation and loneliness in ministry, the author describes how the use of stories about clergy can provide a basis for clergy to explore in support groups some of the signal issues experienced in ministry. The design offers a 20 meeting framework for building what John Calvin called "A Company of Pastors."



This book provides strategies and techniques of humor to be applied to the practice of ministry. The author demonstrates how comedy can lessen tension, bridge differences, and strengthen relationships in the church. With a variety of examples, the book shows how humor can be utilized in sermons, liturgies, counseling, funerals, and other dimensions of ministry. It also provides a "Pastor's Survival Notebook " that offers several techniques of comedy that a pastor can use to personally address the stresses of ministry.




This book introduces the idea that an interim is in an ideal position to advocate for good health strategies for the next pastor. The author offers exercises and directions on how to raise the congregation's awareness and specific steps the congregation can take to shape a healthy relationship with their new pastor.


Resources available through PPCN

Webinar:  Teaming With Your Clergy, a resource webinar offering a plan to strengthen the healthy nurture of the teamwork between session and pastor. Co-sponsored by the Presbytery Pastoral Care Network and the Presbyterian Outlook.  (fee /inquire about bulk discounts)  Email | Ph. 800/446-6008 Ext. 758    

Deep Well CD Front Cover
Laughter from the Well CD
tool kit

Deep Well for the Pastor
CD with spiritual meditations and music to support the pastoral vocation.  Price $10 

(limited supply)

Contact Steve McCutchan

Laughter from the Well
CD with 70 minutes of humorous & musical reflections on the challenges of ministry. 

Price $9.99


The Toolbox

Paper with strategies bringing a healthier perspective to the work of ministry.  Free.
(Toolbox is at bottom of page)