Earlier this year a retiring minister donated books from their personal library to a congregation for younger ministers to help along the way in their ministry journey. I was contacted and offered the opportunity to select the titles that I liked the most. The one recently started is entitled The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation. I chose this one partly because I feel strongly that the church and our congregations are in desperate need of transformation. The author’s write that the purpose for the book was “to offer a practical pathway to transforming the lives of pastors and congregational leaders across the country.”
The final lines in the preface offers a helpful synopsis of the intent for the authors’ writing: “It is our hope that pastors and congregational leaders find this work a stimulus for seeing themselves, their families, and their congregations in a fresh way. But more than that, we pray that leaders discover here both the motivation and the tools for undertaking the lifelong journey of transformation called discipleship.” The lifelong journey of transformation called discipleship; wow! Reframing our call to ministry as a continuous journey of discipleship – for leaders as well as the members sitting in the pews is a tall order.
During times of declining membership and decreasing budgets, I imagine that you, too, might be concerned about how to make transformation and change happen in your congregation, organization, or community. When you combine these difficulties of the daily grind of executing programs, managing volunteers, preaching and teaching duties and other functions inherent in leadership and you can begin to see the level of stress that accompanies the work of clergy and church leaders. Add to that societal strains like hunger, the housing crisis, mass shootings and gun violence and then you get a better understanding of the reality why leaders are burned out. You may be thinking, many clergy members and church leaders struggle to manage day to day operations, how can they possibly think of “transforming” anything? You yourself may be that person. And if that’s you, stick with me for a little while longer.
Intimate Learning Communities
One of the things about The Leader’s Journey that almost immediately grabbed my attention was the fact that one of the opening stories – Stories from the Trenches – featured learnings and information from a cohort-style learning setting. I love this concept because I have seen the amazing impact of small, intimate learning communities. The first chapter goes on to highlight that congregational transformation can only occur after a personal (internal) transformation from the leader. During the cohorts, the feelings of stress, fatigue, fear, frustration, overwhelm and being alone bubbled to the surface. The cohort offered the leaders a safe, grace-filled place of accountability and support. I have personally witnessed the breakthrough that comes from these types of learning cohorts. It is amazing! It turns out, the leadership cohorts helped to facilitate the internal change that was necessary to effectuate change in the congregation.
Unfortunately for many pastors and church leaders, they are not connected to or affiliated with one of these cohorts. If you are one who might benefit from a safe learning environment similar to this, there may be an opportunity available to help you reimagine your situation.
As Christians, we believe that Advent is the season of waiting and anticipating Christ. We recognize that God is a God of innovation and that creation was intended to be good. Until Christ returns, we have been dispatched to all ends of the earth to make disciples and bring good news (Matt. 28:19). If you really think about it, we were called to be innovators. Think about it:
God created everything out of nothing
Jesus was born to a virgin
Jesus said that his disciples (we) would do greater works than him (John 14:12)
Innovating For Love Cohort
The “Innovating for Love” cohort is a peer-led, small group cohort-style learning environment that will help you begin to plan your new year and even be innovative in the process. Facilitated by Kenda Creasy Dean, the Mary D. Synnott professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, this six-session virtual will help participants discover (1) The Map for Innovation, (2) How to Determine the Church’s Readiness for Innovation, (3) Having the Empathy Conversations, (4) Chasing God’s Dream (5) Determining What Makes a Good Idea and Much More!
This Innovating for Love learning community will afford you the space to commune with God, collaborate with others, and begin your innovation and transformation journey. This cohort-style learning environment will provide you with an appropriate mix of grace, accountability, and collaboration that will help you go from being stuck to getting started. It doesn’t matter if your goals are transforming the ways you engage with members in the congregation and the community at large, expanding the programs and services that you can offer, or building a robust volunteer database, the Innovating for Love Cohort can provide you with a peer-led learning community to help you get started.
The Innovating for Love Cohort begins in January 2023 and may be the perfect gift for you and your leadership team. Click here to Register.