This is an article I have written specifically for my pastor friends. If you are not a pastor, you are, of course, free to read it with your pastor in mind. (October is Pastor Appreciation Month, for goodness’ sake. Read it and get inspired to find a way through the mechanics and relationships of your church to provide this kind of thing for your pastor!)
As you’ll see, the following words are filled with the inspiration of having been touched personally and professionally as a pastor. EVERY PASTOR NEEDS SOMETHING LIKE THIS!
Over 2 1/2 years after having begun the process, I am so glad that I did it. In 2008, I was connected to an opportunity to enlarge my vision and sharpen my tools as a pastor and as a person. That it would not only deeply grow me, but also my church, was something I could only theorize about before I began. Until I did it, I could only hope that the C.E.C.L. program’s promises were more than just wishful. Friends, it was more than wishful. In the full light of day with which I can see it all now, their training, the integrity of their honest and informed evaluations, and the relationships they offered more than exceeded my desires.
If you’ve ever been to a “Church Conference” or a conference on marriage or church growth or professional leadership or discipleship or worship…or any conference where any “idea” is getting pushed, you know the frustration of being in a one-way relationship with the “idea.” Usually conferences of all those kinds place a professional, touring speaker on stage who expounds on something that inspires or challenges a whole large group of people in the audience. They talk at you with radical ideas. But it’s all one-way. It’s frustrating because you’re inclined to adopt the idea they’re pushing, but they are unavailable for questions or contextualization or time-tables or transition strategies or even just a hanky to wipe your eyes of the tears that streamed down your face because they hit a soft spot.
It’s one-way. And it’s over in a breath of a moment. (And with it, your enthusiasm and urgency. All you’re left with is the sense that there’s more to do, you’re failing to get it done, and you have no real idea on how to change it.)
Now, imagine having those kinds inspirational moments with world-changers. Only, add to your imagination that you could get into a conversation with them. Add that they are not only well-known speakers, but they are avid and impactful practitioners. They know whereof they speak. Now, narrow the audience size down to less than a 100. Then have lunch with the person where they can two-way with you on how their “idea” could look in a real life situation. Add to this that you are constantly circling up with 8-10 other practitioners just like you to discuss the theoreticals. Talking with people just like you who are busy making it happen everyday in their own communities and contexts. And, suddenly, those conversations about theoreticals and professional challenges turn into personal friendships. Into friends who are thinking about you and praying for you well beyond the 2 1/2 years you are together.
Welcome to C.E.C.L.
It’s dramatically transformed me, my marriage, my pastoral leadership, the expanse of my worldview, and my church. Going in, my church was OK. We were better than average. But, I wasn’t satisfied with my own leadership, our church’s efforts at touching people of spiritual or physical need, how I was preaching and what I was preaching about, our congregational approach to discipleship, our strategies to foster real relationships that matter more than an hour on Sunday, or our structure at how we made decisions as a body.
We had gotten to “OK” pretty much because everyone was polite with one another. But, we could do–I could do–a lot better. Today, because of no small part of C.E.C.L.’s coaching and relationships, our church is growing at all levels. We are growing numerically because we are growing evangelistically. Our leadership and volunteer efforts are growing. Our doors and people have never been more open to our city. And the difference is palpable. Top it off with the fact that we performed a church health survey of our church before the C.E.C.L. process and then one after. (They use the world’s largest church health survey–Natural Church Development.) In two plus years, we went from being just “OK” (i.e. un-dangerous but totally ineffective) to being in the top 10% of churches worldwide in church health. It has been a real and obvious impact to both our church, our community, and me.
But, you know what, that’s just icing on the cake of knowing that I’m becoming who I am supposed to become. Becoming who you’re supposed to come doesn’t just happen. You need somebody else. Can I introduce you to my friends?
For more information about who you, your pastor, or your church can be impacted by this one-of-a-kind program– C.E.C.L. (Center for Excellence in Congregational Leadership)–go to www.cecl.glcc.org or call the director, Ben Mott, at 920-294-3323.