By Ann Leaman
Ohio Conference editor
If you asked me to make a list of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday, sitting in a daylong meeting would not top my list (or even be on the list, for that matter). And yet, I am extremely glad that I attended a healthy boundaries training sponsored by the Ohio Conference and Central District Conference this past December.
Ohio Conference is encouraging congregations to send laypersons to this retreat as well as pastors. (See “Promoting healthy boundaries in our churches” for more details.)
FaithTrust Institute has developed the healthy boundaries training for pastors and spiritual teachers. One goal of the training is to help pastors avoid serious misconduct, but the training also emphasizes the need for boundaries that promote stress management and self-care.
In addition to input from our presenters, the training included videos of spiritual leaders talking about boundary issues, and table group discussions about those same issues.
One thing I appreciated the most about the training I attended was the opportunity to hear stories about different areas of boundary-crossing, some that I had never considered before. For example, on the subject of gifts, one of the video clips featured a pastor talking about a congregant who wanted to give a very valuable gift — in this case, the use of a vacation home — but then also expected special consideration from the pastor in return. Discussion of such instances provided a lot of food for thought.
If you are a layperson who is asked by your congregation to attend a healthy boundaries training with your pastor, I heartily encourage you to do so. It is well worth your time.