By Pam Ekey
The Missouri Conference is expanding its focus on the development of church leaders by transforming the Center for Pastoral Excellence into the new Center for Leadership Excellence, according to Director of Pastoral Excellence Karen Hayden.
The goal of the new center is to increase new missional leaders from 0 to 400 in the next year. It emphasizes the need to develop both clergy and lay leaders throughout the conference.
“A missional leader moves from meeting God to an active, growing and authentic faith in Jesus Christ,” she said. Those leaders in turn mentor more new leaders and help to identify, encourage and develop leaders across the conference.
“Can you identify a missional leader in your context?” she asked, “We in the conference office cannot contact all of them. We rely on you to identify and mentor new leaders.” The Center of Leadership Excellence will provide resources for the support and development of new leaders through the conference office and on the website www.moumethodist.org/missionalleaders.
In response to feedback across the conference, a new abbreviated course of study curriculum has been developed for part-time ministry leaders. It is designed for part-time local pastors who have completed Licensing School as well as laypersons who may serve as congregational leaders, provide pulpit supply or become Certified Lay Minsters. Many of the classes can be completed online.
The Board of Ordained Ministry continues to encourage and train persons for licensing and ordination as deacons and elders, but there is a recognition that additional support is needed for existing clergy. Hayden referred to a study by Matt Bloom, the principal investigator at the Flourishing in Ministry Project at the University of Notre Dame. He believes the demands on clergy are higher and support systems aren’t as strong. A church in decline may respond to the situation in a way that it detrimental to their pastor.
“What if congregations thought more about the conditions in which they are asking clergy to thrive?” Hayden said. “How many local churches think about the well-being of their clergy? How many churches are willing and able to think hard about whether their actions are conducive to well-being? I hope your congregation is one that asks such questions.”
A new initiative called Re is designed to give pastors and ministerial leaders an opportunity to reflect, recenter and reclaim their commitment to God and ministry. Provisional clergy will be enrolled in the program as part of their preparation for ordination. The program will also be available for full-time clergy who have been in ministry for at least five years. The first class will be in August.