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Department of Christian Education

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CME History
+ Nurture
+ Leadership
Formation + Nurture + Leadership = Mission

Leadership is the ability of identifying and developing one’s resources, human and material; mobilizing those resources to realize one’s vision, reach one’s goals, and solve one’s problems.  Teaching and learning are the major tools in the repertoire of the leader; therefore, leaders  are lifelong learners.  Parker Palmer in “Let Your Life Speak” says that what we do flows out of what we are and not what we do.  In his book he speaks of people who have been found almost dead when what they are doing has come to an end because that is what defined who they were as a person. 
Through the reading of Parker Palmer’s writings we understand that leadership is something vital in any given situation, but it begins from within.  Contrary to some people’s arguments leaders are formed and not born.  A position does not automatically make one a leader.

Leadership is a vocation.  It is a calling that one has from within and may be affirmed from and outward source.   Leadership formation is an understanding what leadership is and then configuring or shaping it to fit the definition of leadership.  It involves helping people identify and develop the resources “within” themselves.  In our culture we are challenged by leadership formation because of calls “without” of selves and we may miss our “within” calling.  Much of this has to do with materialism, consumerism and a sense of the market.  Henry Giroux is helpful here for he talks about how culture wants to reproduce itself and the need for resistance. 

Oftentimes people who speak well and pray well are called out by others, however, it is important that people hear the call from within. What oftentimes confuses people is position versus vocation.  
Christian leadership is always informed by the greatest model, Jesus the Christ.  This entails qualities such as humility, courage, sharing, sacrifice for the needs of others, love, and the ability to follow.
Leadership formation for is indeed a challenge because it involves education and the way we educate.  Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux all point to education as the key to leadership formation.  Ira Shore in his book “Empowering Education” seems to give a good summary of all three educational theorists.  Shore writes that there are eleven aspects to empowering education which are the keys to leadership formation.  Namely, they are participative, affective, researching, interdisciplinary, situated, multicultural, activist, problem- posing, dialogic, desocializing, and democratic. 
Unfortunately much of the schooling one receives seems to fall very short in each of these categories.  Participative education is as the name implies allowing people to participate in the planning and execution of the education process.  This is challenging in our culture because we give all power to the teacher and the learner becomes the object of the process.  All things are thrown at the learner without the learner giving voice to the process.  This is a particular area that Giroux and Freire argue strongly as human agency.  The learner ought to have total involvement in the learning process. 

Affective education moves to touch the emotions and feelings of the learner.  It is experiential in nature.  It gives value to the experiences of the learner.  Sometimes our learning is only cognitive and gaining knowledge without allowing the student experiences speak to it invalidates the learner. 
Researching allows for teacher and learner to investigate different possibilities.  It does not assume that the pre-imposed doctrines are always true.  It challenges the status quo.      Interdisciplinary is the sense that education cannot be limited to one area.  It must involve all aspects of education. 
Situated is the understanding that education is in a certain place at a certain time.  All situations call for possible different approaches.  In my mind it is sort of like getting to know who is being educated.

Multicultural is such an important part when it comes to educating to empower and for leadership formation.  It is the world we live in and to deny it is to put our heads in the sand.  Some of my own greatest learning has come in multicultural settings.  One of the most important aspects of Leadership formation is that of activism.  It is the praxis aspect of education.  We must study and reflect, but it should always lead to activism. This is our human agency becomes socially transforming.  Of course this will often get one in trouble as testified through the work of Freire.
Problem posing is in contrast to problem solving.  Posing a problem, seeking a solution, and taking action are much different than theoretically solving a problem without any action.  This is one of the primary premises of Freire.  Education that is empowering and involves leadership formation is dialogic.  Dialogue takes place between the teacher and learner.  The learner becomes a subject and human agency is recognized.  It is not monologue where the teacher has all of the answers.  Learner and teacher learned from one another.  It is desocializing in that it does not try to make all people confirm to a standard that has been self-imposed.  It values the culture of all people. 
Likewise it is democratic.  It hears the voice of the people.  Everyone is given voice and this is especially important for those who have been in the past marginalized.  

All of the above leads to a leadership formation that exudes with critical thinking and critical social consciousness, which are at the forefront of what a leadership is all about. Of course the work of Paulo Freire is instrumental in understanding these concepts.

Additional Resources




Transformative Pastoral Leadership in the Black Church
by Jeffery L. Tribble, Sr.

Description:  Transformative Pastoral Leadership in the Black Church offers practical wisdom from comparative analysis of the experiences of a male pastor and a female pastor in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Church leaders must be transformed themselves as they are transforming their churches to serve their communities. From his research of the perspectives of laity, clergy, and scholars of the black church, Jeffery L. Tribble offers hopeful stories and helpful strategies for those who believe that the black church must continue its historic mission of being an instrument of survival, elevation, and liberation for its people. Transformative Pastoral Leadership in the Black Church is an important contribution to studies of black religion, womanist thought, and social justice.

Principle Centered Leadership
By Stephen R. Covey

Description:  How do we as individuals and organizations survive and thrive amid tremendous change? Why are efforts to improve falling so short in real results despite the millions of dollars in time, capital, and human effort being spent on them? How do we unleash the creativity, talent, and energy within ourselves and others in the midst of pressure? Is it realistic to believe that balance among personal, family, and professional life is possible?

Stephen R. Covey demonstrates that the answer to these and other dilemmas is Principle-Centered Leadership, a long-term, inside-out approach to developing people and organizations. The key to dealing with the challenges that face us today is the recognition of a principle-centered core within both ourselves and our organizations. Dr. Covey offers insights and guidelines that can help you apply these principles both at work and at home -- leading not just to a new understanding of how to increase quality and productivity, but also to a new appreciation of the importance of building personal and professional relationships in order to enjoy a more balanced, more rewarding, more effective life.

God's Potters: Pastoral Leadership and the Shaping of Congregations
by Jackson W. Carroll

Description:  Pastoral ministry is an occupation in flux. In this comprehensive study Jackson Carroll considers the many factors — changing roles among clergy and laypeople, the opening of ordination to women, an increasing shortage of clergy, and more — that are shaping congregations and ministers today. Building on Paul’s image of Christians as “clay jars,” Carroll paints a portrait of “God’s potters” — pastors whose calling is to form their congregational jars so that they reveal rather than hide God’s treasure.

A veteran clergy watcher, Carroll uses data from what is likely the most representative survey of Protestant and Catholic clergy ever undertaken, as well as focus group interviews and congregational responses, to take a hard look at who is doing ministry today, what it involves, and how pastors are faring in leading their congregations. Significantly, his study covers clergy from a broad range of traditions — Catholic, mainline Protestant, conservative Protestant, and historic black churches.

Replete with pertinent tables and figures, God’s Potters culminates with specific strategies for strengthening pastoral leadership and nurturing excellence in ministry. conducted an interview with Dr. Carroll, download the interview from their website:

Let Your Life Speak
By Palmer Parker

Description:  The old Quaker adage, "Let your life speak," spoke to author Parker J. Palmer when he was in his early 30s. It summoned him to a higher purpose, so he decided that henceforth he would live a nobler life. "I lined up the most elevated ideals I could find and set out to achieve them," he writes. "The results were rarely admirable, often laughable, and sometimes grotesque.... I had simply found a 'noble' way of living a life that was not my own, a life spent imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart."

Thirty years later, Palmer now understands that learning to let his life speak means "living the life that wants to live in me." It involves creating the kind of quiet, trusting conditions that allow a soul to speak its truth. It also means tuning out the noisy preconceived ideas about what a vocation should and shouldn't be so that we can better hear the call of our wild souls. There are no how-to formulas in this extremely unpretentious and well-written book, just fireside wisdom from an elder who is willing to share his mistakes and stories as he learned to live a life worth speaking about. --Gail Hudson

Leading Views BLOG: Parker Palmer on Leading From Within