United Methodist Polity…What is PPR?
Many denominations have a board of elders or an employment committee of some sort, the UM system doesn’t. We use a Pastor-Parish Relations Committee (PPR or PPRC).
The PPR is designed to be the immune system for the church. The basic concept is to discuss and move (if necessary) on issues of pastor and parish relationships that are harmful to the Mission! In some cases, folks look at the PPR as the complaint department. Rather, it is designed to be the resolution department.
My church is in the process of instituting a biblical model (Matthew 18:15-20) for problem resolution. If someone speaks with a PPR member about an issue, the first response will be, “Have you spoken with [the responsible person] about this?” If the answer is, “no,” the PPR response will be to give the person 10 days to bring the concern to the responsible party. In 10 days, the PPR person will tell the responsible party that an issue exists with the person so that the issue can be dealt with one-on-one FIRST!
If the concern is not resolved, then the PPR person (not the committee) may go as an observer to meet with the two parties to seek resolution.
If the concern is still not resolved THEN it rises to the level of a Committee concern, and the PPR will discuss how to proceed based on the Mission. The PPR may choose to not change anything. If the issue harms pursuit of the Mission, the PPR will come to a consensus for addressing the issue to defend the Mission. If the PPR cannot come to a consensus, the District Superintendent is contacted to help guide us to an agreement.
This is a VERY important function of the church. Every church has pains (either growing pains or dying pains), and so we need to understand the biblical approach to conflict resolution and how to address issues so we can remain focused on the Mission (making disciples), not trying to please everyone (an impossible task).
One guiding principle of the PPR is confidentiality. However, confidential does not mean anonymous. If an issue exists, both parties need to be a part of the resolution, and the PPR will not chase their tail in following anonymous issues.
Also…in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus is teaching His followers (us) how to address personal issues with each other. Is there something between you and someone else? Give it a shot:
1. Go one-on-one and talk.
2. Take someone with you.
3. Take a governing authority with you.
Resolution may be found before it gets out of hand. We serve a God of resolution and reconciliation. So, we should be PEOPLE of resolution and reconciliation.
Have you taken such a biblical approach to a personal or other conflict? How’d it go for you? What do you think of this process for such a committee?