First for Norwich Christian leadership training
2009: The team from Norfolk Call to Prayer have just completed a first-ever dedicated Christian Leadership Development Programme run by Norwich church leaders John and Doreen Betts. Gail Halley reports.
On October 6, a group of 11 team members from Call to Prayer (C2P), together with two from CAN, came together at New Hope Christian Centre to start the Christian Leadership Development Programme led by John and Doreen Betts (pictured right) who had devised the course.
There was a sense of excitement amongst the group; they knew that this wasn’t just a ‘head knowledge’ course, but they believed it was going to move them on into a new place of ministry and, for the C2P group, help them find their individual roles within the organisation.
The first two sessions majored on personality, character and gifting. Rightly or wrongly, most people are fascinated by examining themselves in this way and seeing what new emerges – particularly under the unerring eye of the Holy Spirit. There were some surprises – and a few shocks – in store.
‘People always told me I had this gift but I didn’t believe them’ or ‘What a horrible person I am’ or – most significantly of all – ‘I’m free to be who God made me’ were heard from the feedback groups. In fact, this freedom to be who God created us to be was echoed frequently throughout the course. Enid Jolley spoke for many when she said, “I identified my own vision, I didn't have to fit into a mould that's different from what God has given me.”
There wasn’t much opportunity to be passive on this course. As well as the feedback sessions where people had both to speak out, and to respond to others’ contributions, there was homework. We had to write out what we believed to be God’s call on our lives; what our passion is; what our God-given vision is. We had to identify the weaknesses, strengths, opportunities and threats in our current situation in order to move into making call and vision something of a reality.
We had to look at our goals and commit to paper our short, medium and long term steps to making them happen. We weren’t at any time let off the hook – and why would we want to be? There is no point in embarking on a course like this just to fill a few idle moments between lunch and tea. Brian Lee summed it up when he said the course consisted of "Continuous development from (week to week) making us responsible for the outworking in our own lives. It wasn't academic and it had a strong biblical and spirit focus." And Jill Gower, Director of C2P, said, “What I liked about the course was … the team work and appropriating what was taught.”
Leaders still have to be team players, so we were put to the test: four groups each with a task to complete by the end of the course – with a presentation. It was very clear that this too had to be real and not just an academic exercise. “Otherwise, what on earth would be the point?” said C2P member Helen Watkins. We were reminded that in a team everyone needs to understand where they stand but we saw too that there were different team leading styles, appropriate in different situations. One aspect of leadership, accessibility, was modelled by John and Doreen who made themselves available very generously throughout.
We looked at leadership widely, but were constantly brought back to the Christian roots of the course, never more so than when looking at our values. As Doreen Betts said, “Our values carry us through times of change when the world seems to be spinning.” We were reminded that there must be nothing which persuades us to ditch our values – they are at our foundations.
A key part of leadership is learning how to develop others and if our definition of leadership didn’t have this at its heart, we had to think again. We had to look at what motivates people – and what demotivates them – and of course the human need for relationships was paramount. We looked at practical ways in which to improve relationships with people, then we chose two people in our lives with whom to start putting these principles into practice.
And then there was graduation – which took place at the seventh and last session. Each participant had to report back both individually and within their teams and there was clearly a whiff of tension in the air.
As we listened to each other and saw what God had been doing in everyone’s lives, I think we all felt we had been part of something very life-giving; faith and expectancy had risen; appreciation of one another, and a greater sensitivity to weaknesses as well as strengths, had grown. A team had emerged stronger and better equipped to work together in their individual giftings, pursuing dreams together and making room for one another.
Stimulating, challenging, fun, interesting, demanding, exhilarating were just a few of the words used at different times by participants to describe the course. As Enid said, “The course was well explained and clearly presented.” We left feeling this was a beginning not an end, and knowing things had changed in those 13 weeks. As John said, “The pendulum has swung too far to go back to where it started.” Amen.
If you would be interested in talking to John and Doreen about them running a Christian Leadership Development Programme tailored to your organisation, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07906 197430 or 01603 861181.