Growing leaders for growing churches
‘Diocese cuts back on clergy.’
‘Minister takes on additional churches.’
‘Church struggles to find leaders.’
‘Leader longs to be better resourced for leadership role.’
‘Research highlights the importance of leadership in growing and healthy churches.’
These are all statements I’ve heard or read over the last few weeks. And they are not new. For many years the church has faced changes in the nature of leadership within the established denominations (for example, see Commissioned Lay Ministry, CW Issue 41). Some congregations within rural contexts share a minister between 5, 10, even fifteen other churches. Some are struggling to resource leadership within the local congregation. Others are concerned to grow their work among children and young people but lack leaders.
To help address some of these issues, CPAS has spent three years working on a new leadership training resource to grow leaders within local churches. The Growing Leaders pack includes 10 sessions (one a month), arranged in three parts, aimed at anyone in a leadership role: church wardens, elders and deacons, home group leaders, children and youth leaders, leaders of choirs and music groups, and so on.
Part 1 focuses on developing a firm foundation for our understanding and practice of Christian leadership. It explores issues of discipleship, leadership styles, call and character.
Part 2 focuses on key generic skills for Christian leaders, including how we discern God’s direction, working well together, and developing others as leaders.
Part 3 focuses on how to keep going in Christian leadership, and explores issues of cost, expectations and rhythms.
The sessions are a combination of teaching, small group work, worship, space for personal reflection and exercises. In between each session there are questions for individual journaling and ideas to explore with a mentor. And everything needed to run the course is in the pack, including some introductory videos for each session.
We piloted the course with a dozen churches around the country, the smallest of which had a congregation of 20 people. What fascinated us in the feedback from the pilot was how many church members in leadership roles were delighted to be taken seriously. We feared they may baulk at the sort of commitment such a course
Future training days: Dates 2006 Location Sat 9 Sept Cramlington, Newcastle
Tues 12 Sept Perth Wed 13 Sept Chester Thur 21 Sept Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Mon 16 Oct Ealing, London Sat 11 Nov Norwich Sat 18 Nov Paignton, Torbay Sat 2 Dec Warwick
involves, but in fact exactly the reverse seemed to be true. As one participant mentioned: ‘We give up time, energy and money to lead within our church. At last you’re equipping us for the roles we’ve taken on.’
Throughout 2006 we’re running a series of ‘Training the Trainers’ days around the UK to equip churches to use the course. As a result of some of these we already know of a number of exciting developments. For example, one rural Anglican deanery is running the course across all of its churches. Alongside the training days we are developing a web community of best practice that will enable us to share ideas and update the material.
We know the Church will look different in the future, and leaders will play a vital part in shaping that future. But as leadership expert John Adair states: ‘The basic principle in leadership development is that a church should never give a leadership role to someone without training.’
For further information go to www.cpas.org.uk/leadership
and click on the Growing Leaders link, or phone 01926 458463.
rural church life
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