How long can you maintain excellence in ministry?
The power of peer-group learning is explored in the book by Brenda Harwood, D. Bruce Roberts, and others, So Much Better: How Thousands of Pastors Help Each Other Thrive.”
The book presents findings from the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Peer Learning Project, with contributions from a variety of denominations and educational and church institutions.
One key finding is that excellence in ministry is a product of a sustained commitment to lifelong learning.
The book identifies the ways peer learning groups promote personal and professional growth.
These include the following specific practices (p. 171):
- Gathering regularly for prayer and worship
- Examining each other’s leadership activities
- Analyzing congregational contexts
- Identifying points of needed knowledge or skill
- Designing or engaging in appropriate learning activities
- Practicing what is learned in leadership initiatives
- Evaluating the results for new educational directions.
If you are a part of a peer learning group, that checklist can be a helpful evaluative tool.
How many, and how well, does your peer learning group practice the elements on the list?
If you are starting a peer learning group the list can be helpful for establishing parameters for a peer learning covenant.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.
His books on education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).