The Development Center
The Authority of the Pastor
A Small Learning Group for Pastors and Rectors - Spring 2017
This may sound familiar:
- You are a Pastor or Rector and have a nagging feeling that things are "all right"; but not good enough.
- You know your congregation with its abundant personal and material resources has what it takes to respond authentically and creatively to God's activity in the world but this is not happening.
- You may have arrived with a vision that has not materialized and are beginning to wonder if it was more about your ego than God's purpose.
- You may have even tried some best practices for missional activity and church growth and discovered that best practices do not transplant well. You have come to realize the limitations of technical fixes.
- However, you remain clear that you belong as a leader of this congregation and that ministry is not about staying alive but thriving. You are ready to dig deep within yourself to discover how your unique gifts and talents may be of more service to God and the Church. You have a deep longing to discern God's call to your church and its purpose. You are genuinely curious about God's ongoing activity in the world and how you can lead and manage to align ministry with it. In other words you are ready to explore God's purpose for your congregation and how to gain genuine Pastoral Authority.
Who This Group is For:
This leaning group is designed for pastors or rectors of complex congregations who are the senior leader or a very seasoned associate. They lead churches that have serveral clergy or programmatic staff besides directors of music.
What to Expect As Part of the Group:
Your most difficult and consuming professional challenges will be central to our work. You will have the opportunity to discover and articulate the zeitgeist of our times and the forces and factors which shape your nation and locality. We will posit the purpose of the church from various perspectives. You will be able to explore the culture, systems, structures and processes of your congregation. You probably will become clearer on what you bring that is unique to your role. You will have the opportunity to mix all these together to begin to create a flexible leadership role for yourself in environments that are in constant flux.
This group is intentionally small – limited to 6-10 members who want to go on this journey of discovery. I have learned through the years that this size experiential learning group gives me the opportunity to know each member and for members to work together by offering their best to one another. Jesus knew what he was doing with only 12 disciples.
The work will be individual work in a group setting. As consultant and leader I will work with you to learn to apply psychodynamic and systemic lenses to your situation. The group will explore the three domains –Context, Organization and Person- of the “The Transforming Experience Framework”. We will also work together to discern where God’s activity might be infusing or breaking through in the domains. This framework was perfected by The Grubb Institute over a forty year period.
Persons who gain the most from the kind of experiential learning often have spent time working on and with themselves. They are curious, courageous and secure in themselves and can present difficult situations for exploration. They do not need everything tied down. People who learn best from lectures, a training approach or are trainers usually do not delve easily into this way of working and therefore do not get much out of it.
The method of this group provides an approach to evaluate and act on diverse issues now and into the future.The approach is one in which everything is open to questioning and there is a good chance that you may be surprised by what you discover. It results not so much in finding solutions to sticky situations but in an internal realignment, and new ideas about how you can approach your work. Following such groups members have gained fresh perspectives and insights on what their church needs from them as a leader. And they have made significant changes for the good of their organization.
By the end of the group you will have gained an increased understanding of your context, your organization and what you bring to your position. You probably will have begun to formulate a flexible role that is useful in fulfilling your congregation’s purpose and through which you garner Pastoral Authority. You will have had the opportunity to think about how not to expect the impossible of yourself, expand your capacity to work with what is emerging and sit with it until you have enough clarity to act.
Emerging Themes In Our Work
- That God is truly at work unfolding a new future
When we get a better glimpse of what God is unfolding and what role to take up in relation to it, our work makes more sense.
- That it is necessary to let go of the old to be able to pay attention to what is emerging
Fear and anxiety are a natural part of discovery and change. It takes courage and trust to let the old pass and the new emerge.
- That confusion is a natural part of letting go and risking the new
Confusion can be unmooring but it jars us loose from old assumptions and practices. As in Genesis when form emerged from the chaos, so from our confusion the new takes shape.
- That the ability to live with uncertainty is essential to good leadership and a mature faith
We have found that a leader can expand his/her capacity to live with uncertainty and the concurrent anxiety until enough clarity is gained to take action.
- That a clear sense of role makes leadership a lot easier
When one has a sense of one’s organizational role s/he thinks more clearly, imagines creative solutions, takes calculated risks to fulfill the organization’s purpose, and is better able to “take the heat” of the job. As one begins to formulate a role one better understands what s/he can bring to a difficult situation.
Comments From Past Participants In Organizational Role Conferences & Consultations
- “This is one of the best training events I have attended ... It was both a time of deep learning and a chance to connect with other religious leaders. I have been really paying attention to the link between system and self and trying to be aware that patterns and behaviors taking place in the system may be taking place in me as well.”
- “I carry a clearer sense of purpose, an enhanced awareness of context and am less ambiguous about my own leadership since the conference. Others in my setting have commented on the change including my ability to articulate a vision and invite others into the process of clarifying/correcting that vision.”
- “This conference changed the whole way I approach leadership. Others have already noticed. I am a bolder and more courageous leader, willing to accept both responsibility and accountability for the well being of the organization in ways I had not previously done.”
- “It is clear to me that much of what I am doing as leader is effective in evoking more energy and imagination out of my system. I will continue much of what I am doing with more enthusiasm and courage.”
- “The flexibility of the leaders is commendable. We always start with a plan and then adjust as needed. Keep doing that.”
- “The excellent leadership provided by Bruce and Frances, who took up their roles - worked with the material and with the group, with intention, with clarity, with purpose and with deep engagement.“
- “It was an excellent program – I particularly enjoyed the small but diverse mix of leaders of different denominations – small enough to get to know one another – diverse enough to challenge one’s own context.“
- “Of all the leadership development work I have done, role consultation has been the most lasting and transferable. I learned to conceptualize my leadership role within the complex dynamics of an ever-changing organization and I developed the skills to work proactively within the interconnected web of congregational needs and bureaucratic agendas.”
Leader: Frances Unsell is Founder and President of The Development Center. She is a Presbyterian minister, psychoanalyst and organizational consultant. She has worked with women in leadership since 1980. This has included directing a career program at Barnard College, Columbia University, working as an internal leadership and organizational consultant for women’s organizations and female leaders for a denomination, and coaching and consulting to scores of females who are senior leaders. She has been quoted in The New York Times and interviewed by Voice of America as an expert on women and work.
Frances has consulted to and been employed by every level of the Church – congregations, denominations, seminaries, ecumenical bodies and parachurch organizations. Her work has encompassed all the mainline Protestant denominations in North America, the Church of England, and Roman Catholic and Jewish traditions.
Her clients can be characterized as cutting edge, resource rich, thoughtful, effective senior leaders of complex organizations. They are often thought leaders and public intellectuals who are highly visible in the public square.
Frances was a Founding Member and is past Co-Chair of the Coaching Coalition and is a member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary (Rockefeller Fellow, Concentration: Psychiatry and Religion), The Westchester Institute for Training in Psychoanalysis (Existential Psychoanalysis) and has trained with The Tavistock Institute, the Grubb Institute and AKRice (Organizational Systems and Behavior, Group Relations).