Friday, March 23, 2012

the task of forming leaders for mission

Here’s some current thinking. I reckon the forming of leaders involves three things and one direction.

The three things are

  • skills – this involves the learning to do things – to preach, to influence, to care, to exegete culture
  • vocation – this often involves increased knowledge, about our tradition as church, about the big tradition of the church in history, the shape of ministry
  • personhood – this involves self-awareness and spirituality – who we are in the process of living and learning

The one direction is that of mission, that in our post-Christendom context, we need skills and vocation and personhood pointed toward a life lived for the world.

Now here’s my current theory, that in forming leaders, we all start in one of these places. Some of us start with skills (for example supervised field education or immersion experiences or homilectics or worship curating). Some of us start with vocation (for example the way many folk teach theology or Christian history). Some of us start with personhood (for example CPE or pastoral care or personality testing).

This leaves a place that forms leaders with four key questions

  • Is the balance right? Some colleges are dominated by vocation type learning. Others are keen to teach skills. If all three are needed, then we need a curriculum that pulls all three into the mix.
  • Is each starting point handing the person on – is skills pointing to vocation and personhood, while is vocation pointing to skills etc? Too often colleges default to a dualism of either practice or theory, when the challenge is to model integration, a spiralling between all three, in an ever deepening circle? Where we start is often shaped by personality and by our learning styles – we learn in particular ways, so we assume that others learn our way. Are we able to get beyond the way we learn?
  • Timing? When in the formation of each unique individual, do they need to be in which sector? Which skills do they need at the beginning and which at the end? Which building blocks of knowledge are needed when and where? When is the best place to invite self-reflection?
  • Is the direction clear? Is all our skills and vocation and personhood being shaped by a life lived for the world?

Thoughts? Have I named the task of forming leaders accurately?

Posted by steve at 05:31 PM

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