Leadership Foundations 2

Another month has absolutely flown by, and so it seemed like no time at all before I was back in Milton Keynes for the second Leadership Foundations training block. It was great to catch up with some of the people I’d met first time around (despite my lack of skill in remembering names!), as well as getting stuck into something completely different. Complementing the first weekend, which was quite ‘theologically heavy’, this block was a lot more practical and hands-on. On the Friday, the theme was ‘Everyday Evangelism’ with Duncan Podbury, and Saturday was “Vision, Strategies, Systems and Team Leadership” with Richard Wightman and Colin Baron; producing a real variety of topics, approaches and styles over the two days.

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Here are some of the key things that stood out for me:

It’s a Journey
One thing Duncan particularly highlighted was that too often when thinking about evangelism, we use conversions as the measure of how well we’re doing. If people aren’t becoming Christians left, right and centre, we must be failing! We forget that coming to faith is a process, not an isolated moment. The Bible uses illustrations like farming, growing, building and even baking to describe the journey of developing a relationship with God – and most of our journeys will include times of going both backwards and forwards too! Instead of despairing when we put on an event or run an Alpha course where nobody becomes a Christian at the end, we need to celebrate the small and celebrate the journey that people are on.

The lady who had never before set foot in a church, but came to a carol concert and enjoyed it.

The man who’s been on three Alpha courses and keeps seeking, even if he’s not convinced yet.

The student who only came to a CU lunchbar for the free food, but stayed for the talk and asked some questions at the end.

That only comes by walking alongside others, building genuine relationship and not seeing individuals as projects to work on, but as people to be valued. “If people are going to see the treasure on your jar of clay, they need to be close enough to see through the cracks”.

Looking for gold, not dirt
Thinking through how we raise up and develop leaders, Colin used the illustration of a miner; looking past the dirt and mud of the ground for the smallest glimmer of gold. It can be easy to look around and wonder where the perfect people are who can step in or form the next generation of leaders, but the reality is that nobody (and certainly not your existing leaders!) have it all together. The way you develop positive people is by looking for their positive qualities, purposefully choosing to not add qualifying statements, and giving them a go with full support and guidance. If you’ve looked for gold, the dirt gets sorted out on the journey.

I hope that gives a little flavour of the weekend. Next time: Preaching and Teaching!

Leadership Foundations 1

On Friday and Saturday last week, I visited Milton Keynes for the first time to attend the first training block of Leadership Foundations; the leadership and theology course that I’m doing this year as part of my Pastoral Internship with Oasis. It was a really great couple of days spent looking at the Theology of Scripture and Hermeneutics – or in other words, why the Bible is important and how we interpret what it says. In a topic like that, it would be easy to get lost in the multitude of complicated words and concepts, but Andrew (the course director and speaker for the two days) was excellent in ensuring that things remained accessible through creative illustrations, had real practical applications, and heavy theology was broken up with humour and frequent Q&As (and coffee breaks!).

Leadership Foundations 2014/2015

One thing that really struck me was the variety of people there. Some, like me, were freshly graduated and involved in part-time work with their churches, some had just arrived from different countries to move to the UK, some worked with UCCF helping students reach students and some had full-time jobs in all sorts of areas. There were even a few people who had been Elders of their churches for 20 years, and wanted to go deeper in undertaking a more practical theological course! From 20-somethings to Grandparents, men and women from all over the country, all united by a desire to hunger after Jesus; to seek more of Him and learn to love Him more with all of their heart, all of their soul, all of their mind, and all of their strength. Meeting such a mix of people was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to spending the next year working through some big questions with them! I also met a lovely couple called Martin and Ros, who I’m staying with on the Friday nights of the course. I definitely didn’t expect to be greeted by a full roast dinner (very tasty indeed), but am exceedingly thankful for their warm and generous welcome!

There’s fortunately a whole month now to chew over everything I learnt over the two days, along with a few assignments to complete, but I’m already looking forward to being back again.

Regards,

Richard