New professional development opportunity: Trinit-A

According to the “State of Women in Baptist Life” July 2016 update published by Baptist Women in Ministry, roughly half of Master of Divinity students at moderate-to-progressive Baptist seminaries are women. Yet as of June 2017, only 6.5% of churches that affiliate with moderate and progressive Baptist bodies had female senior pastors or co-pastors. These statistics are lower than many other mainline denominations in the United States, but not by much.

As an alumna of Young Clergy Women International, an ecumenical network of over 1600 women ministers, I can attest that the numbers mismatch between women training for vocational ministry and women called to pastorates is not due to lack of talent. For twelve years the most innovative leadership ideas I have read (and put to use in my own ministry) have come from YCWI members and alumnae. The church needs more of these creative, bold ministers – who are largely serving as solo pastors in small congregations or as associates in larger churches – in the pulpits of congregations of all sizes and in judicatory and denominational leadership.

Some of the reasons that women are called to smaller congregations and fewer regional and national leadership positions than men are cultural and structural. Women, socialized for humility, are more likely to be shamed (by men and women) for assertively sharing their successes and ideas. Women’s contributions are sometimes co-opted by men, who repeat and get credit for what women have said, sometimes just moments before. Women often have smaller spheres of influence because of the ministry roles to which they are called, giving them less exposure for big steeple pastor searches and elections to leadership on a larger platform.

This reality does not mean we are powerless to change our esteem in the eyes of others, however. With intentionality and mutual support, we can redirect how we present ourselves as pastors and encourage and amplify one another’s – and our own – ideas.

In this vein I am piloting and facilitating a short-term cohort called Trinit-A. It is my hope that through the life of this small group, clergywomen who feel called to ministry positions that have been traditionally difficult for women to break into will

  • become more comfortable and confident sharing their successes and innovations in ways that those with the power to call them, elect them to leadership, or share their ideas broadly can hear,
  • celebrate each other’s gifts and accomplishments in ways that encourage continued growth, and
  • go to bat for one another and themselves in spaces dominated by male voices.

The cohort is called Trinit-A because it is designed around three As:

  • Announcement – “I did a thing.”
    • Claiming accomplishments, sharing credit as appropriate.
      • Claim no more and no less credit than is accurate.
      • Note your specific role in successful outcomes.
    • Using action words and stories.
      • Action words show strength.
      • Stories show humanity.
  • Affirmation – “Here is all the good we see in that thing you did.”
    • Practicing gratitude for the gifts of others in the group.
      • Gratitude pre-empts jealousy.
    • Voicing encouragement and appreciation to colleagues.
      • Encouragement gives permission to share more widely about and to build on successes and gifts.
    • Acknowledging the specific strengths in our own accomplishments.
  • Amplification – “Other people need to know about the thing you did.”
    • Naming specific people who would benefit from knowing about the thing.
      • Think of ministry colleagues, people you went to seminary with, divinity school professors, influential lay leaders, judicatory/denominational leaders, peers who are astute at blogging and/or social media, community leaders, etc.
    • Taking initiative to tell those people about the thing and about the person who did the thing (whether other group members or self).
      • Make and share your plan – who, what, when, how – before leaving the gathering.

This cohort is open to clergywomen in the 35-45 age range* and limited to five participants. It will meet from 1:00-2:30 pm central via Zoom on the following Tuesdays:

September 10
September 24
October 8
October 22
November 5
November 19

The first session will consist of community-building, covenanting, sharing our longer-arc call to ministry, and touching on the design of the cohort. The five following sessions will include check-in time, amplification accountability, a space for everyone to announce accomplishments, a deep dive into affirming and planning to amplify one group member’s announcement, reflection on group process, and a closing prayer.

The cost to participate in the six-session cohort is $150, due by September 2.
I am excited about the possibilities of this cohort, both to increase leadership opportunities for talented clergywomen and to create a replicable pattern for lifting up one another. To contact me with questions, click here. To register, click here.

*The rationale behind this age range is two-fold. First, the cohort is designed to be a peer group, and a broader age range might naturally develop mentor-mentee relationships. Second, clergywomen in this age range have often garnered enough ministry experience to have a sense of their gifts and longer-term call but don’t yet have the exposure to be able to live into that call.

Photo by Ilyass SEDDOUG on Unsplash.

Course on resilience in ministry coming in 2018

I coach clergywomen around a number of topics: widening the margins in their lives, leading in ways that are true to their gifts and purpose, visioning new ministries, finding a best-fit next call, leaving and starting a position well, navigating conflict, leading change in the church.

I believe from the split ends of my hair down to my non-pedicured toes that each coachee is capable of navigating the issues in front of her. But that doesn’t mean that these clergywomen don’t get tired and anxious, don’t occasionally daydream about 9-5 jobs, or don’t wonder if they can do this pastoring thing for the long term.

It takes resilience – the ability to withstand and even thrive in the midst of stress – to to lead at a high level throughout a ministry career. That’s why in 2018 I am offering Pastoral persistence: cultivating resilience for the long haul. This three-session course will cover three key areas of resilience in ministry: leading with authenticity, dealing with feedback, and tending to joy. Each 1.5-hour video call will include teaching and coaching time. Participants will come away with a clearer understanding of their specific call and leadership style, a plan for setting up helpful feedback systems and learning from criticism, and a strategy for ongoing self-care. The format will be part teaching, part coaching.

Here are the pertinent details:

January 9, January 23, February 6
12:30-2:00 eastern
Zoom platform
$50/person

Space will be limited. Sign up here.