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Core Competencies for Being Your Congregation's Chief

Posted: May 17, 2013 by Rob Voyle

Chief's Primary Role: Communicating a Shared vision

One of the chief's primary tasks is to define the relationship of the tribe to the wider environment in which the tribe exists. In the leadership literature this is called creating a shared vision and purpose.

Can your average parishioner describe in 30 seconds or less what is the core purpose of your church? If they can't you are failing them as their leader. This is your first task as their leader to ensure that every one knows the congregation's purpose.

If you think your parishioners just "don't get it," start "giving it" or develop other ways to "give it."

Having a share vision and purpose provides several significant resources. It describes where we are going, and why someone should join us on that journey.

From an incarnational perspective the first thing to note is it is a "shared vision" not an "imposed vision." I do not consider myself a visionary. Through using Appreciative Inquiry, in which all the stake holders participate in creating the shared vision, I have learned how to help a congregation discover their shared vision and purpose. The

Once established it is now the leaders responsibility to hold the vision and continually remind the congregation of that vision.

Here are some core activities that can be used to grow that vision within consciousness so that every parishioner will know and be guided by the shared purpose:

Preach the purpose once a month. If you can't find your congregation's purpose in the Gospel appointed in the lectionary at least once a month you need to either change your purpose or change your lectionary.

Repetition and redundant communication is good When it comes to the congregation's purpose repetition and redundant forms of communication are essential to keep it in the forefront of consciousness. Think of how often Jesus keeps talking about the Kingdom of God.

Invite newcomers to join the purpose. Too often newcomers are invited to join the "club," a nice group of people who get together to engage in religious observations and rituals and have fellowship with one another. Your congregation is not a club it is community of God's people who are on a mission to transform the world. Invite newcomers to join in that mission.

Incorporate the vision into your liturgy. Some congregations recite the congregation's purpose as part of their dismissal, others incorporate it into the prayers of the people.

Tells stories of how the purpose is manifested. If you have a "personal sharing time" at council or vestry meetings focus the sharing on "how have you seen our purpose manifested in the past month?" This will bring the purpose into focus in very tangible ways at the beginning of the meeting and will build member relationships around the purpose.

Use the purpose to guide decision making. In board meetings ask the question: "How will this help us manifest our purpose?" If the activity in question is unrelated to the purpose then move on, let someone else do it.

Use the purpose to resolve conflict. When people have made a commitment to the shared purpose, the purpose can be used to arbitrate conflicts. Much of the conflict I see in congregations today is simply the result of having no clear unifying purpose. Without a shared purpose conflict will be a battle of personalities and personal preferences that violate the core values and purpose of Christianity. We have not been entrusted with a ministry of conflict management, nor are we called to teach people to fight fairly. We have been entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation and are called to teach people to love. We need to reconcile people to God and to God's purpose for the congregation before we try to reconcile them to one another.

In next week's newsletter I will explore "Empowering others to act" as the second core competency of leadership, for leadership is not in having power but empowering others to engage in helping the community to manifest its purpose.

Leadership Training Programs. If you want to grow your core leadership skills then I invite you to participate in one of our Appreciative Leadership for Transformation programs.

For more information and registration please see:

In the Leadership Training you will learn how you personally can manifest the core competencies of a leader as an agent of transformation in your community.

The leadership training is also a required course in the:

* Certificate of Appreciative Transitional Ministry
* Certificate in Appreciative Coaching

In the meantime I wish you lots of love to lead the people entrusted to your care.


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