Technically speaking, this word is probably not the word I want. Colloquially speaking, this word works. Protocol is often used when discussing how things are supposed to be handled. It's used when discussing proper procedures, especially within organizations. Protocol, or the establishment of a system, is often used to create clear lines of communications, and/or to avoid that thing called triangulation in which people talk about things or other people in order to avoid dealing directly with a specific situation.
There is a lot going on in this church. We have many people involved in many aspects of our parish life. Some of these things are directly overseen by me, and some of them are directly overseen by others. Some things I am responsible for, and other things I am basically a cheerleader, offering encouragement and support. But even when it comes to things for which I have minimal oversight . . . well . . . as Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.”
The reason I'm bringing this up is because there have been a couple of recent situations involving the Sunday liturgy in which it would have been best if proper protocol had been followed.
These situations include people other than Chad or Kristy giving the acolytes additional instructions or correction, and one in which someone tried to give the LEM's instructions on doing their task during the service.
Normally I would discuss this privately with people. However, I felt I needed to put this out publicly for a few reasons.
First, I think it's important for everyone to understand that discussing liturgical tasks with our vested ministers during the service is inappropriate.
Second, I think it's equally important that we all understand the proper protocol when addressing concerns you may have. If you are concerned about something in one of those areas in which I may have minimal oversight, you are encouraged to speak with either the chair of that organization or with me at an appropriate time. If you are concerned about something in the liturgy, please speak with me first, also at an appropriate time – and the appropriate time is never during the service.
We all have a role, or roles, to play in the life of St. John's. Please don't bypass proper protocol by offering instructions or corrections to those whom you think need it. Come instead to me, or to the person(s) with direct oversight, about your concern or observation. You may be right and we can make necessary corrections, or you may be given a good reason why things are done the way they are.
Either way, we will be much better off by avoiding the he said/she said game.