Modules in the Vital and Effective Leadership Institute

This module seeks to sort out some of the complex issues involved in the life cycles of parish mission and ministry with particular emphasis on understanding the management of communal loss and grief. These issues can apply on a macro level (e.g. the loss of parish identity) or on a micro level (e.g. the loss of longstanding ministries).

The module uses a case study method and provides some resources of participants.

A parish will never be able to develop a parish-wide life stewardship culture if the leadership of the church does not understand, personally practice and effectively teach and preach these principles themselves. Good life stewardship practices do not trickle up, rather they must trickle down. It must begin at the top. If we truly believe that we are stewards of God's gifts and that we as individuals are part of that gift regime, then we must be able to apply stewardship principles rooted in our own discipleship to the gifts we ourselves have received. This module seeks to help participants understand how they use their own "time, talents, and treasures" in the context of ministry to model stewardship effectively to others. 

Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. Stewardship responsibilities include everything the organizational, service and management needs of an entire community, parish, or congregation.

Most people think of stewardship in the context the management finances and the development of a sense of faithfulness in paying tithes and pledged offerings. However, stewardship essentially comprises a community's obedient witness to God’s sovereignty. Stewardship provides the motive for action that manifests belief in God and participation in divine purposes for humankind. Thus, stewardship defines the participant's practical obedience in the administration of everything under his/her control, i.e., everything entrusted to the participant and the subject community.

This module seeks to assist participants to understand his/her responsibilities to shepherd and safeguard the resources of the subject parish so as to create an environment that is sustainable and capable to continuing development within the Church's mission.

Communities do not just happen. They must be organized. Someone has to build strong enough relationships between people so they can support each other through long and sometimes difficult social change struggles and help transform it to support mission based action. Sometimes that requires reorganizing the community by identifying individuals who can move the community to action. Community organizing refers to the entire process of organizing relationships, identifying issues, mobilizing around those issues, and maintaining a sustainable organization.

This module seeks to help participants develop a working community organizing model that will assist in understanding the power dynamics at play in the subject congregation, how to manage power as exercised within the congregation, and to develop strategies for empowerment as needed.

If you want to provoke a vigorous debate, start a conversation on organizational culture. While there is nearly universal agreement that (1) it exists, and (2) that it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior in organizations, there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is, never mind how it influences behavior and whether it is something leaders can change.

This presents a problem, because without a reasonable definition (or definitions) of culture, we cannot hope to understand its connections to other key elements of the organization, such as structure and developmental systems. Nor can we develop good approaches to analyzing, preserving and transforming particular cultures. If we can define what an organizational culture is, it gives us a handle on how to diagnose problems and even to design and develop better cultures.

This module assumes that congregations manifest the characteristics of family systems and seeks to use family systems theory to approach at least a tentative definition of the specific culture of subject parishes. Once the participant has begun to describe a tentative definition, the participant will focus on apparent needs and possible developmental dynamics for movement toward and sustenance of a healthy congregation.