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A Look Back at 2018

Over the past year, at the Center for Congregational Health, we have experienced many changes, some that were natural and easy and some that were unanticipated and arduous. Les Robinson, frequently says that congregations are in a state of continuous change. We see this clearly in relation to congregations dealing with pastoral transitions, however, we all are always in a state of continuous change.  Bill Pasmore, of the Center for Creative Leadership says,

"Change is multifaceted, complex, and continuous. What seems to be a single change is anything but — it is a complex change that competes for time, attention, and resources with other changes that are already underway, and those changes yet to be conceived…Every day, you face complex, continuous change, which is defined, as a series of overlapping, never-ending,planned, and unplanned changes that are interdependent, difficult to execute, and either cannot — or should not — be ignored." (https://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/continuous-change-white-paper.pdf [ccl.org])

A most significant change for us happened in June when our long-time colleague, friend, and provider of oversight for all things having to do with Interim Ministry, Dr. Les Robinson, was officially retired and ended his 23 years of service and leadership with the Center for Congregational Health.

Over the past six months we have worked to continue to offer assistance to congregations in transition as well as to find partners to continue to provide training for intentional interim ministers.  (You can read more about what will be happening in 2019 in the next blog post.)

In the midst of this change we have continued to be invited by congregations to facilitate custom designed processes for:  dreaming into the future, seeking healthy ways to manage challenges and conflict, discerning if it is time for a congregation to close, working through the in-between times and transition to calling a new pastor. We have continued to offer coaching for clergy, faith groups, staff teams and our denominational partners.  We have continued to offer training events for church leaders, consultants, coaches and workshops for denominational and clergy gatherings.

Also, this year we developed a closer working relationship with the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University and together applied for a Lily Foundation’s Thriving in Ministry grant.  The WFU School of Divinity received the nearly $1 million grant that will greatly impact our work over the next 5 years.

2018 was a year that offered challenge and celebration and we are excited to continue to offer assistance and resources for congregations, clergy and judicatories in the coming year.

Posted in: Coaching, Congregations, Consulting, Interim Ministry

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Connect with your peers through Peer Learning Groups

Dear Colleagues:

You do not need to be reminded that serving as an Intentional Interim Minister is challenging – and can be very lonely! Most people have no real concept of what we do, and this includes other ministers in the areas we serve.

Interims have asked for a number of years if there is a way to connect with each other in a meaningful way, even when we are in many different locations. So, I am pleased to announce that the new benefit to AIIM members in Levels 2 and 3 that we implemented several months ago, Peer Learning Groups, was well-received – and that we are offering this opportunity again. During this time, participants will share their work, discuss what has worked (and not worked!) for them. But most importantly, you will connect with some other folks who understand and value your work. At the end of five months, participants can decide to end the group, continue their calls, or join another group.

The special cost for AIIM members is $25 per call. You will be asked to pay for the 5 months ($125) when you register. A few days in advance of each call, Robin Danner at the Center will send you a reminder with instructions for joining the call. As an added benefit, participants will earn one continuing education contact hour for each call (.1 CEU). This, of course, can be helpful to reach the CEU’s needed to maintain your level of membership.

The Peer Group facilitator will be Dr. Layne Smith. Layne is an experienced intentional interim minister, church consultant, and coach/mentor.

  1. Calls are scheduled for the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 AM (EST): January 11 – May 10, 2018.
  2. We will continue to meet via conference call that Layne will facilitate, with CCH providing the call instructions.
  3. The calls will last at least an hour, possibly 90 minutes (depending on the size of the group(s).
  4. There will be one call per month, for five months.
  5. The conversation each month will be centered on one of the focus points, beginning with "Heritage". There will be discussion re: how that focus point has been facilitated, the challenges that have been faced, and the successes that have been enjoyed.

If you are interested in registering, please let us know by contacting Robin at congreg@wakehealth.edu,or 336-716-9722, by November 15. Payment can be made by check or by credit card.  Upon receipt of payment, we will set up the groups and contact you with the details.

Thanks for the work you do in helping congregations become healthier communities of faith!

Les
B. Leslie Robinson, Jr.
Manager of Interim Ministry Resources
Center for Congregational Health

Posted in: Interim Ministry, Ministers

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Celebrations and Changes

The Center for Congregational Health is in its 25th year!  The Center has been working with congregations, clergy and lay leaders since November of 1992.  As we move through the remainder of this year, we celebrate 25 years of partnering with congregations and leaders to help your churches make a difference in your communities.  Thank you for 25 years of serving together, we look forward to the many ways we may continue to work together.

For 21 of those 25 years, the Rev. Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr. has worked full-time with the Center as Manager of Interim Ministry Resources, with a period of time as acting director.  During that time, Les has worked with several hundred congregations, training more than 2500 interim ministers representing 27 denominations, traveling to 33 states and 2 foreign countries. We are grateful for Les’ leadership and ministry and the amazing work that he has done throughout the years.

We all knew the day would come when Les would want a bit more freedom from the 40+ hour work week and that day has come!  There is good news to go along with it—Les may be scaling back and thinking about his time a bit differently, however he will continue to work with the Center for Congregational Health providing oversight and curriculum development for the Intentional Interim Ministry Training program and for the Association of Intentional Interim Ministers.  We are delighted and honored that Les is choosing to continue the very important work for which he is very well known, and that he will continue to journey with us.

In honor of Les and the work he has done with the Center for Congregational Health, we have worked with the NC Baptist Foundation who manages the Poe Fund, to establish a line item of financial donation where the funds will be used to assist congregations who desire to use the services of the Center for Congregational Health and do not have the funds to do so, we invite and encourage you to offer a financial gift to the Poe Fund in honor of Dr. B. Leslie Robinson, Jr and the work he has accomplished in living out his calling.   When sending a donation, please designate for the “Les Robinson Fund”.  Donations may be mailed to:  the Center for Congregational Health, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157.

Posted in: Consulting, Future, History, Interim Ministry, Leadership, Uncategorized

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Announcement: Peer Learning Groups

Dear Colleagues:

You do not need to be reminded that serving as an Intentional Interim Minister is challenging – and can be very lonely! Most people have no real concept of what we do, and this includes other ministers in the areas we serve.

Interims have asked for a number of years if there is a way to connect with each other in a meaningful way, even when we are in many different locations. So, I am pleased to announce that we are adding a new benefit to AIIM members in Levels 2 and 3: Peer Learning Groups. These will be groups of 5 persons who want to commit to participating in a monthly phone call for a 3-month period. There will be a facilitator for each group, and the calls will last for 60 minutes. During this time, participants will share their work, discuss what has worked (and not worked!) for them. But most importantly, you will connect with some other folks who understand and value your work. At the end of three months, participants can decide to end the group, continue their calls, or join another group.

The special cost for AIIM members is $25 per call. You will be asked to pay for the 3 months ($75) when you register. The Center will send you a reminder and phone number for calling in, about a week in advance of the call. As an added benefit, participants will earn one continuing education contact hour for each call (.1 CEU). This, of course, can be helpful to reach the CEU’s needed to maintain your level of membership.

The Peer Group facilitator will be Dr. Layne Smith. Layne is an experienced intentional interim minister, church consultant, and coach/mentor.

If you are interested in participating, please let us know by contacting Robin Danner at the Center, congreg@wakehealth.edu or 336-716-9722, by May 26. Once we know the level of participation, we will set up the groups and contact you with details for registering and establishing the first call.

Thanks for the work you do in helping congregations become healthier communities of faith!

Les

B. Leslie Robinson, Jr.
Manager of Interim Ministry Resources
Center for Congregational Health

Posted in: Interim Ministry

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End of 2016

As we move toward the end of 2016, we have been reflecting on our work over the past year and diligently working on the training and event schedule for 2017.  We want to hear from you what you experienced and what will be helpful for you in the coming year.  (Survey)

In the past year, The Center for Congregational Health offered three tiers of Interim Ministry training: 1--a three-day course focused on the role of the interim minister as they work with a congregation during a transition between pastors. 2--a five day course, plus approximately six months of fieldwork following the classroom work that allows participants to practice and hone newly acquired skills.  3--a three-day course that prepares intentional interim ministers to serve as transition facilitators.  We offered our church consultant training, The Art of Consulting with Faith Communities. Two times we offered the Vital Mergers workshop with our colleague Dirk Elliott sharing about his work of helping congregations to join with others to increase the presence and missional impact on communities.  In addition to those events we participated in several denominational gatherings leading workshops and talking with individuals about the possibilities within their own congregations. Also, we have continued to offer our consulting and coaching services to many congregations, denominational leaders, clergy and lay leaders, and our staff have been faculty for various programs beyond the day-to-day work that the Center for Congregational Health does, including teaching at the Divinity School at Wake Forest University, partnering to build a D.Min program tract with Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta), and serving as faculty and advisors for the CBF Fellows program, for clergy serving in their first call beyond seminary/divinity school.

As we look toward 2017, we are planning to increase our offerings to help clergy and laity function in healthier congregations/organizations and we believe that you and your congregation can and do make a difference in the communities where you are.  We will be adding back to our training list a coach training that will offer assistance/guidance for any leader to use coaching skills as well as a more advanced coach training for those who wish to build more intentional and professional coaching relationships.  We will work to offer resources and events that help clergy to function in a healthy manner--caring for self and ministering to others, and to find appropriate professional support as you seek to navigate change in church and society and lead others through the changing landscape of life and congregations.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing new dates and opportunities with you.  We hope you will check our website often and join us as a partner in the work that we are called to do.

Posted in: Coaching, Congregations, Consulting, Interim Ministry, Leadership

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Irrelevant? Really?

I have a wooden desk. Actually it was an unfinished table that I stained and then put a piece of glass on top of in order to protect it from scratches and pen marks and such. It has held up nicely 25+ years, so it turned out to be a pretty good investment – although at the time, $60.00 sounded like a lot of money.

Shortly after I moved the desk to my office and placed it in the appropriate space, my wife gave me a panoramic photo of a sunrise at the beach. I slipped the photo under the glass to remind me that the sun will rise every day, no matter how poorly or well I do what I do. Later, she gave me another photo – it is a picture of a sign that reads, “I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.” I also have slipped that photo under the glass, right next to the sunrise. This seems like a pretty healthy way to not only begin, but to live out each day.

I must admit that the sunrise is easier to see and connect with than the sign. After all, we live in an extremely competitive society. Everything becomes a contest, and of course everyone wants to be the winner.

So several weeks ago it was very difficult for me to read an article written for a national publication about a new start up ministry. It was an interview, and the startup founder makes the following comment in reference to the Center’s work with interim ministry (and its connection to Wake Forest Baptist Health): “The old traditional training events for intentional interim work will remain as an offering of the medical center. The (new start up) will be working to identify and develop a new and more relevant approach to interim work that acknowledges the new realities of the congregational landscape.”

This suggests that the “old traditional training” is irrelevant.

Irrelevant? Really?

Since 1992, the Center has worked with hundreds of congregations and thousands of clergy and lay leaders, across 29 faith groups, in 44states, directly in four foreign countries, indirectly in two other foreign countries, and have partnered with the primary national and international organizations that work with interim ministry. Equally as important, the Center initiated a research project in 2004, using an independent consultant, to gather data about the effectiveness of interim ministry in these widely diverse congregations and settings. At the conclusion of the project, we decided to build on this research and make it a longitudinal study. Each year, leaders in faith communities who engaged the intentional interim ministry process are asked a series of questions. All are important, but perhaps the 3 most important/telling questions and the 9-year cumulative results (which now include several hundred congregations and several thousand lay leader responses) are:

  1. Would you recommend the Intentional Interim Ministry process to another congregation? 90% answered “yes” – this is up from the initial results of 87%.
  2. From my perspective, the overall health of the congregation significantly improved during the interim period. 93% agreed with that statement – this is up from the initial results of 88%.
  3. From my perspective, the overall health of the congregation continues to improve since the end of the interim period. 92% agreed with that statement – this is up from the initial results of 85%.

Irrelevant? Really?

I am serious about wanting all of us “to make it.” I think it is important, however, that we make it on our own track records, performance, and reputation, not by trying to make someone else's work look poor or ineffective.

Okay, I promise, I will look at, and take seriously, my two photos again in the morning!

Les Robinson is in his 19th year as manager of interim ministry resources for the Center.

Posted in: Competition, Interim Ministry, Relevance

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