Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why engage a leadership 360 process in Christian ministry?

Yesterday I blogged about a new Masters intensive, Leadership 360. As Sandy Jones spoke today, on why do 360? I took the following notes …

  1. Overcomes isolation. A common complaint from ministers is about a sense of is isolation in ministry. They get so little feedback and when they do, it’s often complaints. What they have found is that a Leadership 360 opens up constructive feedback loops.  You get some perspective on your strengths and impact you are having on people.
  2. Eavesdropping into expectations. The leadership 360 has involved working with 100s of leaders. A recurring surprise is the fact that the 360 tool offers not just a window into  a leaders own personal leadership. It also offers a window into the expectations that people have, or yearning for, in leadership. This is really helpful, as it allows insight and discovery of more about the community of faith you are part of and what might be significant for this group of people.
  3. Celebration. Invariably the 360 allows a chance to celebrate God’s grace through a person’s leadership. This is key, to take the feedback as a chance to honour before God what people are thankfulness for about your ministry.
  4. Assumes team. No leader can be great at everything. A 360 makes that obvious.
  5. Exploration of perception. The tool is not designed to describe what a great leader looks like, but interact with perceptions of those who engage with you in ministry.
  6. Invitation to journey. The process provides a space for journeying. It includes coach working with you to help a person process and plan. It mixes personal reflection mixed with coaching.
  7. Education. Doing the 360 can have an educative role for congregations. It helps folk realise the breadth of being in ministry. This can often cause them to want to better support and train. Which returns us to point one – it works against isolation in ministry
Posted by steve at 07:36 PM

Saturday, May 07, 2011

mission project updates

Part of my current role (Director of Missiology) involves teaching. So recent months have found me

  • writing a distance unit for lay folk on Jesus
  • teaching an under-graduate course on Reading cultures
  • teaching across a range of post-graduate courses. This is focused on working with church leaders in a mix of group and one-on-one research projects. Some of these are smaller – looking at how church is understood in recent changes in Catholic dioceses, hospitality Bible passages, how Christian education is being taught, researching their local community. Others are more lengthy, the effectiveness of short-term mission trips, the missional practices of pioneer leaders, the cross-cultural skills of church leaders, how migrants do theology.

Another part of my current role also involves catalysing in areas of mission. Quite a bit of this has been going on below the blog radar, so I thought it time I provided a bit of an update.

1. Mission shaped ministry Australia – In November 2010 a group of 12 leaders from four Australian States met at Uniting College to talk about partnership in mission training.  The upshot was a decision to form a national development team, to work collaboratively on contextualising the mission-shaped ministry course, which is a one year part-time course ( equipping in planting and sustaining fresh expressions of church, currently running ecumenically in over 30 centres across the UK. The core values include hospitality, prayer, ecumenical generosity, interactive learning, coaching and practitioner teachers. Followup includes ongoing coaching and learning networks and it has been hugely important in developing a mission mindset in the UK context.

Since then, via meetings and email, a Memorandum of Understanding has been developed, forming an Australian Centre to allow negotiation and licensing with UK, yet maintain freedom for local initiatives to be run by local groupings. Currently there are seven partners from 4 States and 2 Territories. (Other partners will always be welcome to join in the future.)  It has been humbling to see denominations and states decide to work together for mission.

(Two pilots are being well piloted in 2011 and if the signs are good, then processes are being worked on for other states/cities to offer courses in 2012. If anyone is interested, please contact us)

2. Mission shaped ministry Adelaide 2011 pilot – A planning group from Adelaide, involving folk from the Lutheran, Uniting and Anglican Church has been meeting to explore the first ever pilot of the mission shaped course in Australia. Go Adelaide!

The plan is to run this Wednesday evenings from mid-July to end-November, over 12 weeks, plus a weekend away to build community. The course is for leaders and members, clergy and lay people, learning side by side. It’s a great opportunity for folk in Adelaide who want to focus on either preparing to start a fresh expression of church or because they want their existing church to be more mission-shaped. More details will be rolling in forthcoming weeks.

(There is also a pilot happening in Canberra, three weekends in the second half of 2011).

3. Innovation and pioneer leader research – Uniting College has partnered with the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) to do some specific research on innovation and pioneer leaders across Australia. This has involved commissioning some research, both on how innovative are churches in Australia and also how innovative are leaders in Australia. This will be used as part of the nationwide NCLS. It will also be used by us at Uniting College.

Our Bachelor of Ministry (practice) and our Masters of Mission (missional) are focused on developing innovative leaders and we want a tool to benchmark whether that is actually happening. It will take a while for the data to emerge, but it is energising to at least be thinking about what questions might need to be asked.

Posted by steve at 12:08 AM

Monday, November 08, 2010

Mastering Missional Leadership: A new training initiative

I wrote the following article for New Times, the South Australian Uniting church monthly magazine, who kindly gave me permission to reproduce it here, for readers not earthed South Australian soil.

Tim Costello, World Vision Australia CEO, noted recently: “Our leadership issues are not to do with our denominational structures. They are more to do with both our spiritual and our emotional intelligence.”

Uniting College has a mandate from Synod, to develop effective leaders for a healthy, missional church. For those beginning their formal training a new BMin has been devised that will focus on missional leadership.

But what about church leaders who have already concluded their training?

This question explains the launch, by Uniting College, of a Missional Leadership cohort within the Master of Ministry course. Participants can take all the components of the existing Adelaide College of Divinity Master of Ministry degree – coursework, guided reading, programme seminars and a ministry practice project – and approach them from a missional leadership focus.

Joining this stream is an invitation to work on missional change within one’s own ministry context. Growth as a missional leader is then foster by a combination of coaching, guided reading and peer cohort support.

In 2010, the College offered a short-course on Missional Church Leadership. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “The Missional Leadership Course offers great participatory learning and course content that encourages thinking outside the square” noted one participant. Another described the course as “some of the best study time spent – linking the Bible with theory and practice.”

As the course ended, a realisation was shared that the missional leadership learning journey had only just begun. Leadership development requires both intentionality and companions in a shared pilgrimage. From this awareness arose the idea of forming a Missional Leadership cohort within the Master of Ministry programme.

If you are a person whose initial training did not include a focus on mission and leadership, if you want to enhance your missional leadership skills, and if you understand the value of collegial support in cultivating change in your ministry context, this Missional Leadership stream is for you.

 The plan is to pilot this course in 2011. Prompt expressions of interest are required for this to happen. For more, check out page 3 of the (1 meg) PDF download

Side bar article: 
A typical Missional Leadership cohort track 


Posted by steve at 07:37 AM

Friday, October 29, 2010

mission training into 2011

The last few months have involved lots of talk, networking, dreaming, discussing about ways to make concrete mission and pioneer leading training here at Uniting College. The upshot is that in 2011, and through a number of developing partnerships, we are hoping to provide:

mission training for whole people of God – through an Aussie version of the UK Fresh expression Mission-shaped course. This is based on a partnership with a number of other denominations and in a number of states, as a one year part-time learning journey equipping people for fresh expressions. Starting perhaps mid-2011 or 2012. (For more, see here)

mission training for potential pioneer leaders – through a three year Bachelor of Ministry, and the provision of majors in Missiology and Innovation (Subject to accreditation, will blog more when that is approved)

missional leadership training for existing church leaders – through an existing Master of Ministry, but with a distinct missional leader focus. This one really excites me! We will train by inviting leaders to work on missional change within their own ministry context. Growth will be fostered in a combination of coaching, guided reading and peer cohort support. The final thesis need not be a traditional thesis, but can instead be a journal documenting the process, the learnings, the theological integration over the 4 years of mission change in context. The aim is engaged action-reflection leaders in mission. For those interested here is a (1 meg) brochure master ministry 2011-www. We are wanting a cohort of 5 per year and I’m already getting phone calls, so if you are interested, do get in touch.

Posted by steve at 02:34 PM

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

what do you need to be a pioneeer leader?

Tim Costello, currently CEO of World Vision, Australia, kicked off the Church in the City 2010 conference today. He spoke about his experience at Collins Street Baptist in Melbourne and the formation of Urban Seed. It was a mixture of challenge and inspiration.

During discussion was when Tim really (for me) excelled, a great mix of practical wisdom, reflection and astute cultural observation. He talked a number of times about the place of leaders as both prophet and leader, as taking risks and challenging the status quo. He ended with a fascinating quote (from my notes):

Our leadership issues are not to do with our structures. They are more to do with our spiritual intelligence. And our emotional intelligence.

I couldn’t agree more. Starting things is about seeing both what is and what might be. That takes honesty and vision. And faith, to believe in what is not yet. And the ability to align that with the stories of Jesus. In other words, spiritual intelligence!

And between what is and what is not, is the status quo. And inertia. And people who like the status quo. So to see change means challenging people. And leading through change. And dealing with conflict. That takes emotional intelligence!

So many times I feel when speaking to leaders the desire for easy answers and quick fixes. It’s hard to say, “There aren’t any. It’s just hard work.” The quote by Tim today gives me another frame and an affirmation, that of the need to deepen one’s spiritual and emotional intelligence, to let the slow processes of composting – emotional and spiritual – happen.

It made me glad of the Missional Church Leadership course I run, which seeks to offer spiritual practices, and to focus on Biblical narratives, especially Luke 10:1-12 and Luke 1:39-45. No easy answers, just invitations to listen, to discern i.e. spiritual and emotional intelligence.

Here at Uniting College, we’re working on three further ways (alongside the Missional Church Leadership) to access pioneer training

  • a one year Mission-shaped ministry course, hopefully taught ecumenically, introducing mission, church, leadership
  • the new Bachelor of Ministry which will include an “innovation” focus, allowing have-a-go learning
  • a Masters in Missional Church Leadership, which offers in-service training, with a mix of coaching, peer group support, reading and a praxis/theory thesis in which people work, over 4 years, on missional leadership in their own context

Tim’s input was a great reminder that in the midst of all of these changes, the greatest gift that can be offered is fostering spiritual and emotional intelligence.

All in all, a great start to the Church and the city 2010 conference.

Posted by steve at 08:05 PM