Small group processing sessions for United Methodist clergy after General Conference

Though my primary denominational identity is Baptist, my approach to ministry was broadened and deepened by attending Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary. While I was a student there, I met four United Methodist clergywomen who are still my best friends. That was also the season when I started dating my now-husband, a United Methodist pastor. I have served congregations in multiple contexts, including the UMC. I now coach ministers in more than ten denominations, with a significant number in the UMC.

Because of all of these connections, I am familiar with the rising anxiety around the called General Conference – and the potential consequences of the decisions made there – that will take place from February 23-26 in St. Louis. At that gathering delegates will act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, a group proposed by the Council of Bishops and authorized by the 2016 General Conference to discuss and make recommendations about language in the Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. These conversations are high-stakes, and it’s no surprise that churches, clergy, and all people who either identify as LGTBQIA+ or love someone who does – all of us, in other words – are deeply invested.

Pastors will be bombarded with questions no matter what happens at General Conference, and I want to help them (to the extent that I can) show up as the thoughtful, faithful leaders I know them to be. And so, I will be drawing upon my outsider-insider perspective and coach approach to facilitate conversations with United Methodist clergy about what the General Conference outcomes mean for them and for their ministry settings. I hope that these discussions will be spaces for finding mutual encouragement and developing strategies so that participating pastors feel better-equipped to guide their churches in the coming days.

On February 27 and 28 I thus invite United Methodist ministers to join in one of a few 50-minute, small group (6 participants or fewer) discussions, each of which will be tentatively structured as follows:

  • How am I feeling? What self-care do I need to engage in?
  • What are the possible impacts of the decision(s) on my ministry setting and individuals within it?
  • What are the possible impacts of the decision(s) on me personally and my ministry?
  • How do I want to show up in and for my ministry setting right now?
  • What do I need to know that I don’t yet? How might I find out?
  • What are my immediate next steps?
  • What support do I need, and where might I find it?

We will bookend our time together with prayer for clergy and congregations.

There is no charge for these processing sessions. If you are interested in taking part, please fill out the form (which includes the available time slots) here. I will contact you with a day, time, and Zoom link by the week prior.

Peace and hope be with all who worry in these uncertain days.

Announcing a new online workshop on trust-building

A lot of things seem hard right now, don’t they? Polarizing talk raises our anxiety levels and prompts us to seek out people who think like we do. Financial uncertainties make us grip our hard-earned dollars ever tighter. Threats to our physical safety, whether felt individually or collectively, cause us to look askance at any stranger within our peripheral vision.

God wants more for us than isolation, hoarding, and suspicion. God wants curiosity, generosity, and connection. But how do we make this shift?

It’s all about trust. 

But real trust is different than what we often think it is. It’s not just about being able to guess how others will act or react and planning our words and deeds accordingly. It’s about showing up as our authentic selves and inviting the people around us to do the same.

I will be offering a workshop about building trust on Thursday, January 10, from 12:30-2:00 pm eastern. We’ll explore what the deeper kind of trust looks like and why it matters. I’ll share 8 Cs key to developing trust. And we’ll work together on ways to apply those Cs in our one-on-one interactions, team and committee work, and whole congregations. The cost for this workshop, which will take place via Zoom, is $15 per participant. All are welcome, and I especially encourage you to attend if you are an influencer – clergy or lay – in your setting. You will come away from this workshop with greater hope for creating community and some tangible ways to make it happen.

People are crying out (whether in word or deed) for help recognizing the image of God in one another and connecting and collaborating accordingly. Learn how to lead the way in this trust-building work, which has never been more important than it is now.

Registration for the workshop is available here.

 

Announcing the next resilience in ministry course

In five years of coaching, I’ve noticed a trend. The clergywomen I work with are enormously talented, innovative, and committed. They’ve got grit. But over time, ministry takes its toll. We’re supposed to shepherd our people as the world becomes both more connected and fractious, as expectations for clergy grow but respect for ministers ebbs, as technology makes us reachable at all times by members with wide-ranging definitions of “pastoral emergency,” and as the bar for active church involvement keeps dropping. These difficulties are compounded by the realities of being a woman in ministry, as we shatter the stained glass ceiling only to find ourselves teetering on the stained glass cliff.

I believe from the unruly hairs on my head all the way down to my kid-sized toes that the church needs what women clergy have to offer in order to respond to the world as we now know it and remain faithful to the gospel. So we must cultivate perhaps the most underrated but necessary trait of a pastoral leader – resilience. Resilience is what keeps us plugging along in dedication to our call when we’d rather binge-watch Netflix and eat our feelings. In the fall I will be offering a three-part course covering three areas key to this strength of spirit: leading with authenticity, dealing with feedback, and tending to joy. 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, thereby preparing themselves to thrive in ministry rather than endure constant frustration and eventual burnout.

This professional development opportunity will offer four means of learning: teaching content, group coaching, wisdom-sharing among the participants, and individual coaching. This will be the first time I’ve included individual coaching with this course, and I believe it will help participants further customize and apply resilience strategies in their contexts. These three one-hour calls can be scheduled at each participant’s convenience.

If your energy for ministry is flagging in the face of so many difficulties, if you’re starting to wonder how long you can hang in (and whether you even want to try), I encourage you to consider this course. Signup is here, and there is a discount of $25 off the listed price of $275 if you register by August 10. The church as a whole and your congregation in particular need your gifts and your voice. Make sure you’re able to offer them for a long time to come.