Clergy Resource Center
Old-line, mainline, historic churches are struggling to find their way in a new day of ministry. Clearly, the culture has changed, the church has changed and the mission has changed since the salad days of the 1950s and 60s. Our culture is becoming increasingly post-Christian with little or no knowledge of the Christian story and fewer and fewer shared ethical norms. The usual practices of "doing church," even done well, are no longer effective.
We are also living in a post-denominational age. Today local churches go to a variety of organizations and use a host of resources beyond their denominations when they need consultation, coaching, training, curriculum, programs and resources. When people look for a church home, they are less concerned about the denomination of the church than they are about the quality of the worship and programming of individual churches.
The New England Pastoral Institute is expanding its Church and Clergy Resource Center to come along side denominations, judicatories and local churches to assist them to become vital, healthy churches in a constantly changing climate. Our goal is not to compete with denominational resources and offerings, but to complement them.
Church Growth and Vitality
The New England Pastoral Institute Church and Clergy Resource Center hopes to help churches answer three questions that will bring energy and vitality to their ministry:
- Who are we?
- What is God calling us to be?
- Who is our neighbor?
The first question helps churches answer the question of identity. What is unique about our history, our character, our resources, people and gifts that define who we are? Through group work using Appreciative Inquiry, charting a church's history, looking a core values, and a variety of exercises, churches can claim their unique identity which is the energy behind mission.
The second question helps churches explore mission and vision. What does God want us to do in this time and place? How can we make the good news of Jesus Christ known in word and deed to the world around us? Through Bible study, small group work, and looking at their assets churches can discover a new mission for a new day that defines their purpose.
The third question answers the question of what are the hurts and the hopes of the neighborhood or city within which our congregation resides. Through demographic studies, prayer walks, and interviews with community leaders a church discovers how the world has changed and how they can make a difference.
These questions are then woven into a strategy of congregation-wide spiritual formation, discernment, implementation, evaluation, and reassessment.
Congregations are looking for assistance in meeting the increasingly complex challenges of mission, ministry and congregational life. Programmatic, cookie-cutter answers are now often viewed as inadequate to meet these challenges. The need is growing for church consultants who can provide more personalized, context-specific help to congregations in need. One size definitely does not fit all in today's world.
The Institute can take your natural understanding of what should be happening in your congregation and help make these expectations a reality. When trying to determine best overall courses of action, or how to respond effectively to change, congregations find that our impartial but interested perspective can provide important direction and encouragement.
Through consultation, we help churches face a variety of challenges from both inside and outside the congregation. Consultants are trained in helping staffs, deacons, boards, councils, or other leadership groups during these challenges. Our consultants assist congregations in developing a process that engages many people in the discovery of solutions. Church consultants help congregations with challenges such as these:
- Mission and Vision
Discover God's purpose for your church today.
- Strategic Planning
Chart a purposeful direction for your future.
- Team Building
Get people involved in and excited about ministries.
- Staff Development
Increase confidence and maximize productivity.
- Decision Making and Governance Restructuring
Find the best organizational formation for your congregation.
- Conflict Transformation
Deal with tension or disagreement between members.
- What Is Our Mission Field?
Discover the hopes and hurts of your community and put your assets to work
- Boundary Training
Become more effective as a pastor, staff team and a church when people stay within their assigned tasks and roles.
- Program & Performance Assessment
Maximize the effectiveness of your existing and future programs
Enhance the giving potential of your congregation
The goal of coaching at the New England Pastoral Institute will help individuals to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, discover their dreams, and set the goals and steps to realize them. Our coaches will assist ministers and lay leaders in creating steps and accountabilities to move toward success in their personal and professional lives.
Our conviction is that through an on-going, professional relationship, a minister can enhance the skills, resources and creativity he or she already possesses in a safe and challenging environment. Our coaches can help an individual to assess his or her various capacities and bring them to bear in new and creative ways.
Each coaching client is matched to one of the trained coaches made available through the Institute. Our coaches listen, observe, and customize their approach to individual client needs. In a coaching relationship, the client maintains the responsibility for creating, pursuing and maintaining the outcomes they seek. Most coaching takes place in hour-long, confidential telephone meetings twice per month.
For a minister coaching is about:
- Mission and VisionIncreasing effectiveness
- Enhancing quality of life
- Achieving personal and professional goals
- Bridging the gap between present conditions and desires for the future
- Clarifying vision
- Exploring possibilities and determining next steps
For a faith community, coaching is about:
- Happier, healthier ministers who have more energy to focus on the congregation
- Ministers who are more strategically focused and are effective at establishing goals and working for results
- Getting the best of what the minister has to offer
- A cost effective approach to increasing the capacity of ministers
- Longer tenure for ministers
Lay Leadership Seminars
Lay leaders often have little or no training about how leadership works in a local church. They often imitate how they see leadership exercised in the corporate world, flounder without any models to follow, or are pushed around by everyone's opinions and offering. NEPI plans to offer Leadership Development opportunities through workshops focused on how to:
- Engage in Worshipful work
- Understand the Congregation as an Emotional System
- Understand what Constitutes a Healthy Leader
- Draw up an Effective Agenda
- Run an Effective Meeting
Churches in Transition
It seems that today our churches are always in transition. Pastors and staff come and go, members are more mobile, money is in short supply, and buildings are always in need of maintenance. In addition, the nature of ministry is changing. Gone are the days when clergy largely served as chaplains for local churches and communities. Churches need to be more intentional about taking the pulse of their community and finding out what the hopes and needs of people are around them. NEPI can provide a "Transitional Coach" to walk alongside an interim pastor or a newly arrived clergy person. This person can help the congregation navigate the waters of those transitional times and can supplement the work that an interim or settled minister does.
Clergy Leadership Development
Congregational leaders are now facing unprecedented challenges in regard to Christian leadership. Traditionally, clergy and lay leaders were expected to have strong pastoral and relational skills; churches now expect them to be effective leaders, change agents, conflict managers, visionaries and strategic thinkers as well. Developing strong leadership skills such as these is a life-long challenge, and it is vital for effective ministry leadership.
The New England Pastoral Institute offers educational opportunities to help clergy and lay leaders develop pastoral and leadership skills. The Institute helps leaders learn and grow by using an approach that assists them in capitalizing upon their strengths while developing areas where they have limitations. We believe quality leadership development involves assessment, challenge and support, and our resources address each of these elements.
Our leadership development strategies address:
- How should a leader respond constructively to conflict?
- What does a leader do when a church lacks energy or feels "stuck?"
- How does a leader develop and guide a staff in functioning as a team?
- How can a leader practice emotionally intelligent leadership?
- What does it mean to think and act strategically?
- When is the right time to engage a critical issue in a congregation?
- How do you lead a congregation to engage a critical issue in a healthy, constructive way?
A leader is, "someone other people choose to follow." This leads to three additional questions that are asked and answered during this training:
- Why would someone follow you?
- Where would they end up if they did follow you?
- How would they be treated on the way?
Through workshops, seminars, small group work and coaching, clergy will learn leadership skills to help them navigate through the new ministry waters of the 21st century.
NEPI plans to draw alongside clergy who wish to grow in their effectiveness or have someone to walk with them through difficult times. Below are some possible offerings:
- Clergy in Discernment. There are two words for time in the New Testament: one is chronos, the other is kairos. Chronos is chronological time, calendar time. Kairos is a Greek word meaning "the right or opportune moment;" "the time in between;" when "something special" happens. The NEPI Clergy in Discernment program would be a continuum of care for clergy and discernment process, providing support for pastors in the early years of their ministry and for those seasoned pastors looking to enrich their ministry and for those experiencing a crisis along their ministry path.
- After a Betrayal. Clergy misconduct can impact a church for decades to come. NEPI counselors and therapists can assist a local church deal with the feelings of grief, anger, betrayal and broken trust that come from such an experience. A clergy coach can be assigned to an incoming pastor after a betrayal of trust to walk with the pastor as they begin their ministry.
- Safer Spaces. NEPI can help local churches establish "Safe Church" policies and programs to guarantee safety for both adult and children worshipers.
NEPI hopes to provide resources across New England and across denominations that will strengthen, encourage, and grow both clergy and churches as we seek to be a new church for a new day.