On what and where can we focus our learning to take us to the next level of professionalism and success AND build our perseverance muscles? When we begin our seasons of local church ministry, we only know what we know. It’s what we DON’T know that can take our legs out from under us and leave us paddling for our ministry lives. Another theme for Advent and a reading plan for Lent will not cut it.
“Ministry leaders are more likely to survive when they know what they are getting into and how to navigate the challenges.” p. 138 from When Women Lead: Embrace Your Authority, Move Beyond Barriers, and Find Joy in Leading Others.
Once you get to the point of lifting your head from the calendar and demands of ‘Sunday’s always coming’, a professional will realize the skills that got them the job will not lead them to a place of health and thriving without some additional skills. What else do we need to know?
In chapter 8 of When Women Lead, Rev. Dr. Carolyn Moore suggests an emphasis on focused, professional training in at least four major areas. I wrote of the first two in part 1 of this 2-part series which can be found here.
Here are two other areas of skill-building I totally agree with:
Vocational Development – training in identifying the right situation for each skill set, identifying coaches and mentors, and in networking.
Lead Like A Shepherd by Larry Osborne
Podcasts: Kids Ministry 101 by Lifeway, Lead Podcast by Josh Denhart, Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way by Discipleship Ministries
Fusion by Nelson Searcy
Connect by Nelson Searcy
Sustainable Children’s Ministry by Ministry Architects
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase
One thing I did because of what I learned…
Before social media, the only local network of leaders I could get to was for lunch at quarterly CEF meetings (Christian Educators Fellowship) and the monthly tri-county Preschool Directors networking groups. I would attend with a legal pad of questions. While the participants stood in line for food, I’d go down the line and chat with folks to get answers to the most pressing questions because these were the professional Christian educators in the trenches and they were all in one place. Sometimes I actually ate lunch, but mostly not.
One thing I still do today because of what I learned…
Intentionally build relationships with new and experienced staff hired from the pew from across North Georgia. I make it a priority of gathering and collaborating with others in the trenches of the local church leading littles and bigs to Jesus. I make it a priority to schedule and drive to wherever my peers will gather in small groups to discover who has amazing skills in budgeting, staffing, volunteering, negotiating, special events, hospitality, church development, research, curriculum, resources, holy habits, child development, social media, and communication. I connect people for ministry in community.
I’m contacted almost weekly by healthy, great churches looking to build their team for ministry with children and families. Frankly, the pickings are slim because most folks won’t take the time to network and build relationships outside their current local church. As more churches re-org the organizational chart in the next 3-5 years, those who fail to build relationships through face-to-face networking, even occasionally, will regret it. We all need mentors, coaches, and door openers. Building relationships through face-to-face networking makes having all three so much easier and costs us nothing, but prioritizing the time to attend every opportunity that arises.
I’m also contacted almost monthly by hurt, broken, blindsided kidmin champions who never thought they’d be looking for a new position. Building relationships outside our own houses is a necessary priority. How can I help?
“Here’s a cold, hard fact: no one is going to advocate for you, your gifts, or your circumstances quite like you will advocate for yourself, your gifts, and your circumstances.” When Women Lead, p. 149
Personal Development – training in time management and life rhythms
Creating a Healthier Church by Ronald Richardson (this one kept me in ministry)
The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker
Ministry Chick by Melissa Mashburn (I met the author because of a bodacious ask!)
Good to Great by Jim Collins (I’m quoting and living by this one almost every day)
Stride by Ken Willard (purposeful generational discipleship)
Attended and participated in the Walk to Emmaus movement (the recipe for living a life of grace)
One thing I did because of what I learned…
Schedule balcony time to set goals twice each year and unofficially edit my job description of the local church I’m serving each January. Setting goals go along with an overall discipleship pathway for an extended period of time and edit that to excellence. Editing my job description reminds me what I’m being evaluated on (the original job description for which I was hired) and what do I need to set aside that I’ve mysteriously inherited over the last year which is not my lane. This guards my heart and my head to spend my best time and creative energies to meet my priorities and take spiritual authority over my call to ministry for the next season.
One thing I still do today because of what I learned…all of the above.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” 2 Peter 3:18