Happy New Year! I gave up New Year’s resolutions a number of years ago. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t set goals for myself each year! And, at Augsburg Fortress, one of the four key measures on our annual Balanced Scorecard focuses on required professional development accomplishments for each and every employee.
Does your congregation have a professional development standard for staff and other key leaders? If not, I’d encourage you to strongly consider this. And, the first of the year is a great time to start!
Having done a lot of speaking and teaching on leadership development all across the Church, I know that as soon as I propose investing in professional development I’ll hear the “scarce resources” argument.
I’m going to push back, however, and state that with carefully planned activities, you will get more in return than you spend in time or money on development of the people serving in leadership roles! And, while certainly time and effort need to be applied, there are many low cost and even free options for professional development for church leaders.
- Look to your local public school system for evening classes on effective speaking, accounting basics, meeting management, or small group dynamics.
- Invite gifted lay leaders from your congregation who would be delighted to join your staff and lead a “brown bag lunch” on business skills that apply to church environments.
- Select a book to read together and discuss as a staff. For pastoral staff, maybe Mike Foss’s new book Reviving the Congregation: Pastoral Leadership in a Changing Context or for faith formation teachers and leaders, Michael Novelli’s Shaped by the Story: Discover the Art of Bible Storytelling.
- Network with ecumenical or interfaith communities in your area. What do they know that you don’t and vice versa. Trade expertise!
- Watch an interesting TED talk as a staff during your weekly staff meeting.
- Check out the website for your synod or other middle judicatory for workshops and conferences.
- Explore your denomination’s colleges, universities and seminaries for both in-person and web-based teaching and learning events.
- Last, but far from least, look to Augsburg Fortress and sparkhouse! We host 400+ free webinars each year on a wide range of topics to assist congregational leaders. While some are tied to specific resources we publish, many are broader in their scope. For example, in just the next two weeks, we are hosting 22 free webinars! In addition to product-specific webinars, we’ll have free webinars on these general interest topics for church leaders:
- Leading Adult Bible Studies
- Using Video to Engage Kids through Adults in Faith Formation
- Everyone on the Same Page: Energize Your Church Using the Revised Common Lectionary
- Building Biblical Literacy with Children
To learn more about these webinars and our rotating free offerings, bookmark http://gatherlearnlead.org and check it throughout the year! Invite your colleagues to do the same as they work on their professional development plans.
Professional development is up to each of us as individuals; we need to proactively find ways to incorporate life-long learning into our busy days. But, it is also up to us as organizational leaders to encourage and nurture this initiatives around growth so that as our world continues to evolve, our staff members have the skills to adapt.
Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress