Sunday, April 10, 2011

Call to Action report, Item #2-- “redesign the leadership development system”.

The seminaries aren't mentioned in the UMC Call to Action report, but as a significant part of our leadership development system they could help the Church fulfill the vision laid out in the Call to Action/Vital Congregations/Leadership Summit.  The proposed planning guide identifies 16 strategies for vitality that congregations should follow.  If this proposal is adopted, then pastors will be expected to lead their congregations in the implementation of these tasks.  Seminaries could help their students (and current pastors) by offering training related to these 16 strategies.  The training will have to move out of the classroom to be effective, however.  The interpersonal skills needed to accomplish all 16 strategies can only be acquired through supervision and mentoring.  The pastors will need to:
  1. shadow someone leading a church that has one or more of the vitality strategies running, 
  2. learn the steps taken by that church to start the ministry, 
  3. think through how to adapt those steps to their setting for ministry with the help of mentors and/or peers,
  4. take the ideas back to their congregations and share them with the lay leadership,
  5. evaluate their efforts to implement a vitality strategy with a supervisor.
The first three steps could be accomplished in a week.  The last two steps could take a year to complete.  This is an expensive proposal, but I think it is the only way that students are going to learn how to lead the laity and work as a congregation to fulfill the tasks laid out in the planning guide.  The 16 strategies can only be realized by a highly motivated congregation.  Motivating others is a learned skilled.  Done poorly, it leads to manipulation and exploitation.  Where else and how else can this skill be acquired if not in seminary?

July 24 addendum:  The Alban Institute's report on an initiative to train new pastors in congregational clusters.


Br. Scot said...

My worry is that this is just another symptom of the existing failure of the business culture on the Church. That is, the Church has imported the mindset of the business world and it has been failing us for 50 years. Rather than dump it as the insanity that it is, we keep turning up the volume and getting louder about it. The louder we get about it, the worse we sound.

Our metrics are wrong. Our goals are wrong. Our virtues are wrong.

Leadership, entrepreneurialism and success are not the Christian virtues; those are faith, hope and love. As long as the Church continues to confuse business virtues with Christian virtues, we will stay in the quagmire we are stuck in.

Lets forget about leadership and step into servanthood and love. We need to fire all the pastor-as-CEO types and start promoting sainthood as the ultimate model for what a pastor should be.

Along with that, we need to change our mission statement from "Making Disciples..." to "Making Saints." That will involve a serious recommitment to Wesley's vision of holiness and transformation of life; a lifelong growth process in which there are no quarterly reports or conference dashboards (sorry Bishop Willimon).

LA said...

Concern for both qualitative and quantitative measures would be more in keeping with Wesley's practices. However, even if we change the name to "saint development system" we still face an educational challenge. A pastor may be a saint, but that doesn't guarantee that she knows how to help others attain sainthood. A pastor might be a servant, but that doesn't mean he knows how to help a layperson become a servant of Christ.