Just Say Yes Learning Time


July 01, 2015

When Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase speaks to groups about the issues he addresses in his latest book, Just Say Yes: Unleashing People for Ministry, he likes to do it in three different one-hour sessions split up over a couple of days.

At his home Annual Conference, though, he didn’t have that kind of time available. So his plan was to squeeze that three-hour presentation down into a one-hour seminar for the Monday Morning Learning Time. However, addressing the issues around the sale of the Conference-owned camps took longer than the scheduled time, which then bumped back other business to Monday morning, the last half-day of Conference.

“Because of our condensed morning schedule, I’m going to try to take what was originally a three-hour presentation down to about 10 minutes,” he said.

While he didn’t go full-on auctioneer during the presentation, he did hit it fast, skipping through slides and only speaking to the highlights. But all the attendees did go home with the book, so he knew they would have plenty of time later to go over it again and let it all sink in.

Most of Bishop Schnase’s previous work has been geared toward top-tier leadership in local churches, examining ways they can improve their local church. Just Say Yes encourages churches to be quick to grant permission for all people, including new attendees, to follow their call and engage in a ministry that can make a difference.

Some people have No as a default answer, others have certain things that trigger the no response before they fully consider the question. Bishop Schnase offered the following common ways that people in a church say no to a suggestion for ministry. 

  • You’re Not the Pastor! 
  • I Don’t Need That, So You Can’t Do That!  
  • Only Five People Signed Up  
  • They’re Not Our Members Anyway  
  • That’s Our Room  
  • That Will Never Work Here 
  • Analysis Paralysis  
  • You’re Too Young, New or Different 
  • You Didn’t Ask Me First!
All of those no’s can stifle a church in unforeseen ways. “Growing churches say Yes to ministries that declining churches say No to,” Bishop Schnase said.

It’s not just individuals that say no, it is also systems. The structure of a church can be bureaucracy that gives many different committees an opportunity to say no to any new idea. Running a new idea through a gauntlet of approvals can be an arduous, and time consuming task.

A system that says no often has the following unhealthy expectations: 
  • Everyone Has to Know Everything 
  • All Risk Must Be Avoided 
  • Leadership Means Control  
  • Meetings are where the action is
“Many congregations require five to seven layers of organizational approval, and each person or committee has the ability to say No, but nobody has the authority to say Yes,” Bishop Schnase said.

It’s not that yes is the only answer. Bishop Schnase said sometimes no is the right answer for a number of reasons, particularly if the action being initiated does not align with or contribute to the overall mission of the church.

“The goal of rethinking congregational systems is to make them more accessible, sensible, and effective in accomplishing multiple ministries,” he said.

Bishop Schnase suggested the Just Say Yes book to be used for anyone in ministry, from pastors and church staff to new member classes. It is available at online at www.cokesbury.com.