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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Living into our potential through Pastoral Leadership Development

    May 8, 2018 / By Pastor Gary Kubitz, Co-facilitator of PLD in Albany DIstrict

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of the Advocate, which highlighted different ways people and churches across the Upper New York Conference are spiritually planning their way forward.

    What does it mean to be a leader in the church in the 21st century? Many pastors across the Upper NY Annual Conference have been wrestling with this question as they are participating in Pastoral Leadership Development (PLD). The PLD curriculum was developed by our brothers and sisters in the Missouri Conference and has been utilized in their region to encourage their pastors to engage in leadership that will help the church live into its Spirit-filled purpose for the Glory of God. It is the goal of our episcopal leadership that the clergy in our region gain knowledge and tools for leading the church in our current day so that we also may live into God’s call for God’s church.

    The (PLD) curriculum is designed to have clergy engage with one another in the discussion of various leadership topics through large and small group interaction. Each month, the clergy in each District gather for training that is facilitated by the District Superintendents and other members of clergy that have had other leadership training.

    In the Albany District, we have covenanted to read the books that are recommended by the authors of the curriculum (Bob Farr, David Hyatt, and Ken Willard), and to meet monthly to discuss these books and to participate in discussion and other activities with the intention of increasing both the spiritual and practical approaches to leadership.

    The topics for our monthly discussion include such things as: Our changing world, the missional church, personal leadership styles, church alignment, vision and focus, effective worship and preaching, and outreach and evangelism.

    One aspect of this effort that is different than many other learning opportunities in the past is that it asks pastors to create action plans based upon the concepts that are being learned in each session. As a part of this action plan, participating members are working in peer accountability groups to as we look to support one another in living into our purpose as the church.

    As I consider all that I have been learning throughout this process, I would like to start by stating the obvious; Leading for change is hard!

    The members of our group in the Albany District have come together acknowledging this fact…and it may be safe to say that we are beginning to embrace this fact.

    One major benefit in our discussions has been that we are beginning to move out of our respective ministry-setting silos to understand that other pastors in other contexts are working to overcome common obstacles, and that there is strength in the sharing of ideas. This is not a new or groundbreaking realization, but given the focus on action and accountability that is at the core of the PLD, we are we are building bonds that can lead to future possibilities for effective leadership in ministry.

    Through this work, we are beginning to understand that our current systems are not optimal for ministry in our current age. Together, clergy are beginning to explore new avenues of leadership, new possibilities for collaborative ministries, and new and exciting ways to empower laity increase their effectiveness in mission and ministry.

    As pastoral leaders of God’s Church, we are called to share in God’s vision for the world. Because the world is changing at a seemingly unprecedented pace, we as leaders need to re-vision for the present and the future. This is challenging work. But rest assured that we are not alone – God’s Spirit is moving among us and within us. God’s Spirit is empowering us with the gifts, skills, and tools we need to effectively be the Ekklesia, the “called out ones” in a world that needs effective leaders equipped to share the love of God in all places to all people.

    I encourage all children of God, clergy and laity alike, to continue to seek God’s will for our church. Keep seeking, keep learning, and keep loving. If you are interested in growing in your leadership capacity, I invite you to explore some of the following books which those participating in the PLD curriculum are reading:

    • ReCreating the Church – Leadership for the Postmodern Age by Richard Hamm
    • Direct Hit by Paul Borden
    • Shaped by God’s Heart by Milfred Minatrea
    • Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
    • The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
    • Communicating for Change by Andy Stanely and Lane Jones
    • Unbinding the Gospel by Martha Grace Reese

    “He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:37-38). Through our continued work in leadership development, we are striving to be effective laborers, living into the potential that God has gifted us to be.

    May our God empower us to live out the mission and purpose to which God has called us as the church in the UNY Annual Conference.

    TAGGED / Advocate


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 86 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."