Recommendations regarding the Center for District Superintendents and other Judicatory Leaders.
Rev Su DBree, Dean of the Yellowstone Cabinet My opportunity to take part in the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness came prior to the invitation to serve as DS. I believe it has made a huge difference in my ability to balance the myriad demands and expectations of this ministry. From understanding varied leadership styles within our cabinet ( an appreciating my own) to supporting pastors and laity in local congregations I find myself using skills and insights I gained every day. The renewed understanding of family dynamics and systems is so very helpful discerning what's happening in a church or conference as we strive to work through change in healthy ways. And the remembrance of our group holding each other and singing, "All, all will be well" has carried me through some anxious times! I am deeply thankful that I took part.
Rev. David Burt, D.S. Big Horn District, Yellowstone Annual Conference firstname.lastname@example.org I had heard of the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness for several year and often desired to attend. I could see the benefits for a pastor in exploring one's own emotional and relational issues in order to find helpful tools in dealing with relationships with members of the congregations. However, it wasn't until I became a District Superintendent that I finally made the commitment to begin studying at the Center. In my role as D.S> I interact with many congregations, each with their own history and personality. One of my joys as working as a D.S. is seeing the unique qualities of congregations as well as pastors. Working with all those unique qualities is also one of my biggest challenges. In my tenure as D.S. I have had, as I am sure every other D.S. has, conflicted congregations as for assistance. I have had pastors who are near burn-out seeking help. I have had to deal with appointments that were breaking down. In such situations, it is vital to be able to maintain the ability to not take it personally. In other words, to be a non-anxious presence in the midst of the crisis. What I am learning through the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness is how to develop that non-anxious presence. I am learning the specific situations that tend to act as "triggers" for me emotionally - how to identify them and how to deal with them in such a way as to not become part of the problem myself, or allow myself to get drawn in emotionally. Using as our textbook, Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue by Edwin Friedman, I am discovering that some of the very things I often thought as a pastor were important skills or techniques may in fact be detrimental. New ideas are pouring through my mind as I read. At this point I have only attended two different sessions out of the six that will make up the entire course for the Center. But already I am using the information and skills I am learning to enhance my work as a superintendent. The discussions in class provide excellent insight and feedback. If I had any regrets, it would be that I didn't attend the Center sooner. The Center for District Superintend is an idea whose time has come. I highly recommend it for anyone in a supervisory role with the church...whether you're brand new D.S. or in your last year of the cabinet. Check it out.
Janet Hernandez, D.S. Wichita West District, Kansas West AC JHernandez@kswestumc.org I highly recommend the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness. I started taking the Center before I knew I was going to be a DS. I knew the training in systems theory would help me become a better pastor. Well, it has made me a better district superintendent. When I found out I was going to be the DS of Wichita West district, I thought I wouldn't have the time to finish taking the Center. I'm glad Bill Selby strongly encouraged me to continue. District Superintendents deal with lots of different systems and, with that, many more levels of anxiety and stress, both personally and professionally. I use what I learned through the Center every day in my new ministry as DS. Deb Olenyik, DS Wyoming and NE Colorado Rocky Mountain Conference I continue to appreciate my Center experience for my current ministry, how the Center has benefited the pastors under my supervision, and your willingness to work 1 on 1 with church situations. Your work is a valuable resource for healthy churches and healthy pastors. Thank you. ( I just recommended to another pastor this week to be in touch with you.)
Pastoral effectiveness retreats provide fresh insights through 'systems thinking'
By Susan Cooper Connection editor Kansas West Annual Conference The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness, a series of six retreats over an 18 month period, engages participants in a ?systems thinking? process that can provide new ways of looking at relationships within churches and within families. The retreats are led by Rev. Bill Selby, the creator of the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies.
Selby cited three questions he would ask pastors and lay leaders who are considering attending a pastoral effectiveness series:
1.Do you want to be healthy?
2.Do you want your grandchildren to be healthy or do you want them to have to deal with things they don?t want to deal with?
3.Do you want your family to be healthy?
He said the retreats provide an opportunity for honest dialogue and insight that can lead to healthier ways to relate to others.
In, hopefully, non-threatening ways, we get people to bring back things to the surface that are normally hidden, he said. ?We talk about our own emotional processes and how they impact us systemic ally.
The first series of retreats in the Kansas West Conference began in November 2004 at CalvaryUnitedMethodistChurch in Wichita, and a second series was launched at Calvary in February 2006.
Two more series will begin in January, one at Calvary UMC Jan. 29-31 and the other at the CatholicRetreatCenter in Great Bend Jan. 31 - Feb. 2
Selby bases the retreats on Edwin Friedma's book,Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue, which examines leadership through a multi-generational family model.
Pastors may be familiar with the book or family-systems models from seminary, but attendees have found that Selby puts familiar things in a new way.
Seminary is an academic experience, but what we?re doing in the center is emotional as well as academic, he said. There's a phrase that you can?t think your way into a new way of acting; you need to act your way into a new way of thinking.?
Selby believes incorporating family roles helps participants understand their relationships within their churches.
For instance, I'm a middle child with an older brother, he said. Intuitively, I know when anxiety gets high in the church, I recognize it's an older brother. If I'm not aware of that, I become reactive. By becoming reactive, I?m basically giving over all my power to the other person. What I mean by power is personal power over self. Without that, what we do as pastors is begin to blame our congregations.
One of the participants in the second series in Wichita, Rev. David Bell, senior pastor at FirstUnitedMethodistChurch in Garden City, had read about the pastoral effectiveness center prior to his decision to attend.
It sounded helpful and beneficial, and then I visited with people attending the first session, he said. Based on their enthusiasm for it, I was convinced I wanted to attend.
A lot of what we talk about at the retreats is not necessarily new things, Bell said. In fact, the main text is a book we used when I was in seminary. But visiting the book again brings fresh new insight and ways to relate things immediately to things you're doing. I'm recognizing what things make me anxious, what things bring me under stress. I'm learning how I can be helpful in those situations, rather than reacting because I'm under stress.
Rev. Adelia Hooley, pastor at Little River and Windom United Methodist churches, also is attending the second series of retreats. She, too, was familiar with the family-systems model, but decided to participate after seeing the difference in colleagues who had attended the retreats.
They seemed like more mature pastors. They were more thoughtful with people. They seemed calmer, she said.
The classes are a lot of inward focus, helping me think about how I react and what I do and how that's helpful to me and others, she said. Being non-anxious in the midst of chaos isn't easy. We don't change our own behavior overnight. That's part of the reason this is spread out over 18 months.'
Hooley received an affirmation of the growth she's made by attending the series when she recently attended a funeral at an Assemblies of God church in Lyons. After the funeral, the pastor of the church told Hooley, I've noticed a very big difference in your level of maturity as a pastor in the time you've been at Little River. Hooley told him, I think, in my whole life, that's the best complement I've ever been given!?
Why consider The Center, described by most clergy as "the most valuable continuing education experience I have ever had."
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies is a major resource for clergy. Over 200 clergy have been or are presently enrolled in the Center. It was created to help maintain ministers in ministry. Burnout is a major concern. It shows up in varied ways. Tired, touchy, sensitive to criticism, looking for quick-fix solutions (especially for sermons), depression, family stress, children acting out, marriage stress or breakup, acting out, leaving ministry, and others.
Why are we, as clergy or religious leaders, susceptible to burnout?
One of the major contributors is "The degree to which the lay leadership has intense interdependent relationships with one another beyond their congregational functioning, such as being related through blood, marriage, or business." Generation to Generation, p 217
So check out your church setting. How many generations of individual families do you have sitting before you on a Sunday morning? How many intermarriages? How many of them work in the same setting or businesses count on support of others? Do you have teachers and administrators from the school? How about owners and their employees? Doctors, nurses, custodial, and hospital administrators? Farmers, ranchers, feed mill or fertilizer businesses? Perhaps a banker, bank board members, account holders in that bank?
So when you propose to add a program at the church which may cost a little money, require a new person added to the staff, what are these people thinking? Do you believe that they can shut everything of their lives out and just consider your proposal? Could you?
Meanwhile, do your kids go to school, spouse teach, and do you bank at the same bank, buy your groceries or hardware from members?
You begin to see the enmeshment that is there....natural, and very dangerous.
What can you do about it? Well, about the situation. NOTHING! About how you relate and lead, SO VERY MUCH! Is it easy? NO! Is it vital? ABSOLUTELY!
This is what we work on at The Center. We don't want you to burnout. We want you to enjoy your calling and continue to feel the feelings you felt when you began your ministry.
SIGN UP TODAY. Classes begin in Colorado Springs, Colorado in September; Cozad, Nebraska in October; Bozeman, Montana in November; and Witchita, Kansas in November. Remember, the more who register, the less it cost each person.
We just completed a leadership program led by Bill Selby, founder of the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies. At the beginning he counseled participants to give themselves four permissions. They are great guidelines for how to handle yourself, as well as treat others.
Permission to say “No”
This is at the heart of self-differentiation. When we are unable to say “No” in the midst of surrounding togetherness pressure, we lose a little of ourselves. We lose a little “self.” Self-differentiation is about being a self, while staying emotionally connected.
This is not about being selfish, it’s about knowing who you are, what you believe, and what you need.
Sometimes we say “Yes” because we want to please. If we do this knowingly, and don’t get resentful, that’s OK. But if we are succumbing to pressure to conform, then we can end up getting resentful, and that’s not healthy.
Knowing when you are unwilling or unable to do something is about knowing yourself. Saying “No” when this is the case is taking care of yourself.
Likewise, giving this same permission to others creates healthy emotional space. It enables others to feel they can define themselves without you trying to define them. It keeps you from being the one who creates surrounding togetherness pressure.
Permission to ask for what you need
This is related to the first permission. Knowing how to take care of yourself means you can ask for what you need. The pressure to conform can sometimes cause us to withhold this permission from ourselves.
We were standing in a circle when Bill shared this permission. One of the participants was dealing with sore feet from plantar fasciitis. She asked if she could sit in a chair instead of standing up. Yes! Permission to ask for what you need.
Again, giving others this same permission is self-differentiation. You can’t tell them what they need. You can’t read their minds either. You may not be able to meet their needs. But giving the freedom to ask encourages healthy relationships.
Permission to make mistakes
This seems obvious. It’s simple, but not easy. You can tell yourself it’s OK to make mistakes, but there are voices in your head from your family of origin that will contradict this. Working through the anxiety that comes from unresolved relationships can help you overcome this.
Giving yourself this permission will make you more likely to take appropriate risks; to try something new to move your life or your work forward. It will enable you to see everything you do as a potential learning experience. As Seth Godin says, unless you are saying, “This might not work,” you’re playing it too safely.
Giving others this permission will help you lead a team that is innovative because they’re not afraid to try. That’s a gift to those you work with and the organization you serve.
Permission to rethink
This is a corollary to the previous permission. Just because “we’ve always done it this way before,” doesn’t mean we have to keep it up. Sometimes when things aren’t working, sometimes when we make mistakes, we just need to stop and rethink. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.
We can be afraid to rethink because it means we might have to let go of strongly held assumptions. This is the heart of surrounding togetherness pressures. But it’s all in your head, literally. Rethinking is an academic exercise. It’s a way to get some perspective and healthy emotionally distance from the situation at hand. You may rethink it, then decide you don’t need to change what you’re doing. Or you might decide you don’t want to be insane.
Giving others this permission is more subtle than the other permissions. If you come across as demanding that they rethink, it’s defining them, not yourself. Nobody likes to be told what to do.
If you can invite someone to rethink, without pressuring, then you give them the freedom to make their own choice. At this point, it’s up to them. But giving permission helps them to work toward self-differentiation.
These four permissions are great guidelines for how to function in our families of origin and our organizations. Give them a try.
Rev. Jack Shitama
The Rev. Jack Shitama serves as executive director of Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries in Maryland. This post is republished with permission from his blog The Non-Anxious Leader.
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies
These are just a few of the excerpts from personal thoughts regarding The Center from some of the clergy who attended.
*Charles Layton, Iowa
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness was a time of deep connection with myself and colleagues. It also gave me very useful tools and insights into how groups (families - churches) really operate and how I might be able to have a healthier more positive effect as pastor
*Carol Kress, Iowa
I believe that a Key to Longevity in ministry (not necessarily an appointment) is participating in solid learning opportunities over time. Learning that involves the heart, mind, spirit, and collegiality. The Center provided these things to me and has been one of the best learning opportunity. I'm more deeply committed to my calling and have more hope for the church.
*Melanie Adams, Nebraskas
I would highly recommend this to my colleagues in ministry. I wish I had had this years ago, but am so glad I've had it now. I also look forward to more opportunities to review and grow in my understandings of family systems theory. Seeing the positive changes in my ministry and in my family relationships has been rewarding.
*Phil Tarman - CO
For the past several months, I have been one of fifteen pastors from our Conference participating in The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness.This has been the most rewarding and meaningful continuing education experience that I have had in my thirty years of ministry. This is the result of the focus on the similarities between the processes of congregational life and family systems, which shapes us all.Edwin Friedman’s text, “Generation to Generation” plus additional material from Friedman’s seminars, has been a rich source of insight and wisdom.Many of us in ministry are there because we are “people-pleasers.”Trying to please “everyone” keeps us from being focused and effective.Our experience in ministry can be like being nibbled on by hundreds of tiny fish – we get distracted and fragmented, and are unable to provide the “calm, non-anxious presence” that can be the foundation of all our efforts.The shared insights of the group plus Bill Selby’s broad experience and self-awareness have made this experience both challenging and satisfying.
*Tom Brady, Kansas
The Center provided me with some much needed insights that can otentally help me in making healthier decisions and actions as a pastor. It has helped me to better understand the dynamics and systems at work in the local church and to respond within that system with greater maturity.
*Connie Wilson, Kansas
The application of systems theory knowledge and principles contributes to effectiveness for ministry and life.
*Galya Rapp, Kansas
I am a better leader and perso not because I learned a technical fixer for "problems" but I gained insight in seeing/understanding what is really happening from a family systems process perspective. Than you Bill. Deep grantitude for your part in (as a colleague, mentor, teacher,and friend) this journey of self-discovery.
*Patricia Westlake – CO
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness with the leadership of Rev. Bill Selby is clearly the most helpful continuing education experience I have participated in 33 years of ministry. Somehow through Friedman’s Book “Generation to Generation” on which the center is based, one is able to get at that “hard to itch” place in ministry.WE have somehow been helped to get at a fundamental spot, a place which brings congregational life, our own lives and our pastoral identity together so as to get this naggin’ “itch” itched.What I have learned is incarnational, and transforming.The Word has become clear in my own flesh, and communicated a new message of hope and acceptance which overcomes the messages of my family of origin which had still been living in me.Thus, a relief, a relaxed non-anxious presence becomes possible.Certainly I don’t mean to imply that it happens all at once, but I am able to be non-anxious more consistently.The materials presented through The Center are rich, I work with them on a daily basis, in relationships in my parish, my family, in preaching, in committee work, and planning praise worship. It should be a requirement for everyone entering ministry.
*John Wright, Kansas
In the course of my participation in the Center, I have watched myself become a more self-differentiated pastor and the positive impact of that change on the congregation I serve in ministry.
*Mark Johaningsmeir - CO
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness is excellent!It has offered me a new set of mental frameworks that are extremely helpful for the practice of ministry.I think the format of monthly extended learning sessions works by helping me integrate this learning in my life and ministry much better than intensive one-shot events or weekly classes.Bill Selby has a good read of the group and is flexible enough to work with his goals while he honors our questions and needs.I strongly recommend The Center.
*Bruce Sage – CO
What The Center’s offering based on the teaching of Edwin Friedman is doing for me is helping me to come over a period of months to genuinely understand how relevant family systems theory is to understanding so much of the trying behaviors we encounter in the church every week from well-meaning, needy, and sometimes troubled parishioners.Beyond that understanding, for me, has been a better understanding of my obligations to respond rather than react, to vision-cast, and to without apology assert my beliefs about how healthy churches function.I am learning to quickly pick up on the dynamics of unhealthy or unwise processes and get them redirected before they have a chance to become toxic.These effects have reduced my level of stress discernibly and added to my growing confidence in my ability to do ministry as effectively as I wish. With the interest all of us as pastors have in human psychology and the dynamics of growing and healthy churches, I would be surprised if any of us did not find these insights and “suggested responses” to be fascinating and powerful.
*Rebekah Simon-Peter - WY
I found that The Center is like a recovery program for ministers.Using a family systems model, and the teachings of Edwin Friedman, I am learning how to lead in a way that does not perpetuate addictive patters.This experience is just what I was looking for.But the work is not easy; it’s almost impossible to do on my own.The ongoing support of The Center is crucial to my making ongoing changes in my leadership style and worldview.It is my hope The Center is around for long time!I firmly believe it is a tremendous resource for our Conference that can help the church and its leaders flourish.
Vern Doctor – CO
After nearly 30 years in ministry, I am discovering that what is happening at The Center is perhaps the most significant Continuing Education experience I have every been a part of.I wish I had been exposed to this material “way back when,” but then I may not have been smart enough not just to recognize its value and importance, but even how to use it.I would strongly recommend that anyone who has at least 5 years experience participate in this process.I have no doubt that if I had participated in a process like this 25 years ago, it would have significantly changed not only how I approached ministry, but how I would have cared for myself.This program is not an option, it is a must.Thanks for putting it together, and making it available to us, Bill.
Glenda Hart - CO
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness of the Rockies provides many benefits for the pastors involved and consequently the Rocky Mountain Conference as a whole I believe that both life and our religious beliefs are ongoing processes.Taking time to explore and evaluate our personal family dynamics, to understand other families, and to understand how these connect with how families in the church interact as well as affect the pastor is of extreme importance to the health of the churches in our conference. Understanding the systems approach can be most difficult and can only be achieved in a setting such as this Center.May it continue to grow!
*Karen Hurst – CO
As pastoral leaders we go about our daily work.We plan, we preach, we organize,…yet we become enmeshed, we get caught in the middle, we burn out, we wear out, we become unhealthy and we become cranky, uninspired, depressed, frazzled, angry, upset, etc. The Center has helped me look honestly at myself as a pastor and as a person.I have had the opportunity to take stock of my strengths and to peek at those areas where more growth is needed.It has made me feel that I am not alone because I see that there are other pastors, not only in other congregations of my denomination but in other denominations as well, that fall into the same pitfalls.I have appreciated The Center, Bill’s leadership, the subject matter and the people with whom I have shared the journey.It has been exactly what I needed, at a time I really needed it.I hope all pastors in this conference, as well as other conferences, have the chance to experience this program.It has made and will continue to make a difference in my ministry and the ministry of the churches I lead.
*Clair Zilm – CO
What we are doing through the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness is exactly what I need heading into my fifth year of co-pastoring with my clergy spouse, Gary.First of all, Bill Selby’s leadership of the group is so knowledgeable, good-hearted, humor-filled, and full of human understanding and compassion that it’s impossible for us not to grow under his guidance.Now as I gradually begin to truly understand and apply in my own life, and ministry the principles of self-differentiation that Friedman insists are the most important basis for leadership, I find myself immensely grateful that we, elderly fold that we are, were allowed in the class.As our class learns and grows together, all 15 of us, I realize again and again that this is the ONLY way I can ever be comfortable with calling myself a leader. My reactivity has, I have felt, always been my biggest weakness as a leader, and now I am once again reminded of the expression of being a “non-anxious presence” as a leader.I am still very far from BEING that, but it is the vision that keeps me trying, and the phrase that often puts things back in perspective, especially in the midst of strife.
Joyce Snapp – CO
Reading, studying, and puzzling through Edwin Friedman’s insights about family process in church and synagogue is a delight.The internalization process is stabilized in community with clergy colleagues gathered and relaxed.The retreat setting at St. Francis Center has provided a welcome space apart from the bus-ness of daily pastoral ministry, allowing deeper thinking and assimilation.For me, the learning has been significantly personal as well as professional. On both fronts, I have navigated difficult processes of change, distancing, and renewed intimacy – fairly well.I now know the difference between “content” and “process”, and can recognize each after just a few initial tight breaths of anxiety.Then I can start breathing more easily, and I can think more clearly about what would be the most constructive way to respond.Professionally, I find I am “asking permission” less frequently, and I am listening to my inner wisdom more consistently.I am more willing to let my own sense of leadership take the lead, rather than waiting for a quorum to give me the nod of approval.I feel confident about pasturing a larger, more complex congregation now.Without question, Bill Selby’s Pastoral Effectiveness Training has been an enjoyable and valuable experience, and is one that will continue to grow inside me.
Ora Dailey – CO
One of the most valuable aspects of the class was “mentoring” individuals sharing their circumstances, dreams, fear, triumphs, failures, themselves as people and pastors.The Center isn’t even, I’d say, as much about “Pastoral Formation” as it is about health and wholeness as a human being.The pastoral system we share enhances our connection for learning from one another.Self-differentiation, and the rest of systems principles runs so counter to most of what has shaped me that it all feels like revelation.
Allen Simons – CO
The Center for Pastoral Effectiveness has given me a place to reflect on myself in relationship.In my 33 years of active ministry, the Centerhas been the most useful in reflecting on the ministry.It is never too late to change once approach in relating to others.I have fund help, freedom, and new energy through this study.
Keith Hudiburgh – CO
As a result of my time in the Center, I am more relaxed, less anxious, especially during times of conflict.I also find I am less anxious about the future, have a better sense of who I am, what I stand for, and where I want to go, i.e. what I want to do with the rest of my life.I am more aware of my impact on others and their impact on me.I see the need to stay balanced, to experience life without trying to control it, and to be more trusting of God and others.Thanks for the opportunity to grow in my thoughts, my understanding, and my actions.
Lynn Evans – CO
I have made changes in my ministry after 34 years!Do you have any idea how deep my ruts are! ?It has been a very good experience, not for everyone, only for those who are open enough to re-think.Those who have gone on to perfection, need not apply.Those who still see it as a goal, sometimes dimming sometimes brightly beaming, will find sustenance.It has been an experience of open minds, open doors, and open hearts.
Dick Vickery – CO
At each stage of the covenant career, person are in need of professional reformation , spiritual renewal, and intellectual stimulation.This is the product of the eight session , spread over an appointive year as part of acovenant group.Thanks goes to all those who have the vision to make this monthly overnight experience available a a normative growth experience for members of the annual conference.
Donna Paterson – CO
I believe in the synchronicity o f God’s time. I could not have made it through this year without the insight and support that the Center provided.Good, solid, informative, invaluable dialogue, and supportive fellowship provided an experience that was both enriching and transforming.
Chuck Cram – CO
You have created an environment of transformation.While not mandating any thing, you have led us to the tools which, when we choose and remember to use them, will have a transformative impact on our churches, on ourselves, and on our relationships.While everyone seems to be “bottom line” oriented and want to get the most for their dollar, I’m sure I will be continuing to reap rewards from the investment for years after I have forgotten what the cost was.I doubt you need much affirmation, but you are doing an important work and I am both grateful and privileged to be considered your friend.Thanks for all you do and how will it is done.
Linda Patzke – CO
I appreciated getting to know new colleagues and old ones in a new way.Learning in and with a group provided insights and motivation into putting theories into practice.I truly treasured having a support group; it’s sort of a safety net while you try out your newly unfurled self-differentiated wings.
Linda Pelletier – CO
Attending the Center has given me a new set of tools and processes for my ministry.Friedman’s Generation to Generation and the materials presented, offered a greater understanding of systems thinking and how it applies to the church and my ministry.This has been my greatest learning nest to the important of knowing myself – I will for the rest of my life appreciate all of life because of systems thinking.
T.L. Phillips – CO
I first began wearing glasses in the eighth grade.Not until I walked outside for the first time wearing the glasses did I realize how blurry and unfocused my sight had been.The Center experience event for me is like obtaining glasses for the Spirit; clarity where there was once blurriness, ability to understand myself and others who once there was haziness, and renewal of the sheer joy of life.
Linda Wells – CO
The Center provides practical training that gave me the “eyes” to see myself, my family, and my congregation in much healthier ways.It is not magic but growth.It has been a tremendous gift.I have been amazed and blessed by this process.