Fear and Loathing in the Pastor’s Study: Can Authorized Ministers Learn Innovative, Risk-Taking, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills?

(Originally published on August 15, 2016, on the United Church of Christ’s Center for Analytics, Research, and Data (CARD) Blog site.)

In 2009, Barna Group researchers conducted a survey-based study of “the state of mainline Protestant churches” in the United States. After extensive data-crunching, they concluded that “mainline churches have weathered the past decade better than many people feared they would, but serious challenges [threaten] continued stability. The quality of leadership—especially regarding vision, creativity, strategic thinking, and the courage to take risks—is the most critical element in determining the future health and growth of Mainline congregations” (“Report Examines the State of Mainline Protestant Churches,” December 7, 2008).

This finding was confirmed in last year’s United Church of Christ (UCC) report on “Congregational Vitality and Ministerial Excellence.” Based on extensive surveying data gleaned from UCC congregants, the June 2015 report highlighted “four marks of ministerial excellence” that correlated most strongly to congregational vitality:

  • “The ability to mutually equip and motivate a community of faith”;
  • “The ability to lead and encourage ministries of evangelism, service, stewardship and social transformation”;
  • “The ability to read the contexts of a community’s ministry and creatively lead that community through change or conflict”; and
  • “The ability to frame and test a vision in community.”

Curiously, these four marks “were the lowest-rated items by congregants.” Most respondents did not think their pastor(s) were proficient in the very skills and aptitudes that contribute directly to, and are most necessary for, church vitality!

This raises an obvious question: How can authorized UCC ministers “learn” or develop these essential marks of excellence?

 

To read the rest of this article, click onto the United Church of Christ’s Center for Analytics, Research, and Data (CARD) website,

Fear and Loathing in the Pastor’s Study: Can Authorized Ministers Learn Innovative, Risk-Taking, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills?

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Chris Xenakis

Chris Xenakis is a pastor, an adjunct lecturer in political science, an old school black and white photographer, and a sometime amateur actor.

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