There is no partnership that is more important than the one between the congregation and its clergy leadership. How do you ensure that you are making the best possible match? When selecting staff, we have ways to ensure:
We have assisted a number of congregations to develop ways to create an excellent match between congregation and clergy. Our work is based on a number of research projects carried out by the Centre for Research and Training in New Church Development at St. Stephen's College.
Below is one process we have used with success, Turning Dreams into Reality. It is an excellent process to provide a Joint Needs Assessment Committee or a Search Committee with the information they need to develop a clear description of the job and the skills required in clergy leadership to meet the dreams of the congregation.
This is a process that moves through three phases:
Phase I: Information Gathering: Identifying our Dreams and Strengths
Phase II: A Congregation Weekend Event
Phase III: Planning for the Future
The objective of this phase is to identify the dreams and the strengths of members of the congregation.
A questionnaire that people can respond to confidentially is helpful in identifying the strengths of the congregation, the dream people have for their congregation, and what people would like to change or add to the life and work of the congregation.
A series of Dream Sharing or Focus Groups set up at various times and in different locations are a good way to provide opportunities for people to contribute their input to the ongoing discussion. Small groups encourage many to participate who might not otherwise become involved.
Information from Stats Canada and the City is helpful in looking at the context in which the congregation will be offering its ministry.
The questionnaires and the data from the Focus Groups are compiled and summarized. To this is be added the information from Stats Canada, etc.
This is a congregational event held over a Friday evening and Saturday, with the possibility of a celebration as part of the Sunday worship.
Friday evening provides an opportunity for as many members of the congregation as possible to participate in developing an understanding of the Identity of the congregation. The emphasis on Saturday is to articulate the vision and dream that members share for the life and work of the congregation in the future.
If the process is being used by a congregation to plan for its future, one approach is to set up a small task group to develop a draft plan, which is then shared with the congregation at an event where they have an opportunity for input and sharpening the plan to meet their specific needs. Or a congregation can go right to a planning process involving as many members as possible.
If this process is used by a Joint Needs Assessment Committee or Search Committee, they use this time to discern what the work of the previous two phases is saying. What are people really saying? What dreams have people expressed for the future of the congregation? What ministries need to be emphasized in the future? What does all this mean in terms of the personnel resources that are going to be required to achieve the dream people have for the future of this congregation? They can then identify and prioritize the particular skills that are going to be required to meet the needs of the congregation in the future.
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