An e-newsletter for conveners of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship peer learning groups. 

Kicking off the PLG year

Many peer learning groups take the summer off to allow time for sabbath, camps, and other events. This break can be very helpful to the vitality of a group because it provides space for reflection and reassessment. If you took a summer hiatus, consider the following as you look ahead to the fall:
  • Are there colleagues you'd like to invite to your group for the first time? It's much easier for new people to join a group after a significant break than to jump in mid-year. Think specifically about clergy who have just moved to your area. Let your Regional Director know too if you're open to new members, because he may have had inquiries over the summer.
  • How will you break the ice? Even if everyone in your group is a returning member, initiate a low-risk get-to-know-you activity. If your group has just formed or has newbies, on-board activities are especially important. A fellowship activity - possibly including families - is also a good starting point.
  • How will your group members bring one another up to speed on significant professional and personal events that occurred during the break? A lot can happen in a short span, so think about how you can be intentional about knowing and being known.
  • Do your old format, schedule, and location still work for your group, or is it time for a change? Consider as a group what would make your time together most beneficial for everyone, and make a plan for the year. Generate excitement so that members will prioritize your gatherings.
  • How will your group members re-affirm their commitment to one another? The re-boot period is prime time for establishing a formal covenant or renewing an existing one.
  • How will you bridge the gap between gatherings? Consider whether you might enhance between-meetings communication this year using social media.
  • How can you take advantage of PLG funding offered by CBF? If you haven't requested funding from CBF since October, your group is eligible for $500. Submit your proposal to as soon as possible to take advantage of money available this fiscal year.
Creative Commons "Karate kick at sunrise" by bluesbby is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Stewardship focus

Many churches are gearing up for stewardship season. If yours is among them, consider the following:

What is your mindset going in? If you dread talking about money, your congregants will dread hearing about it.

How might the church's financial needs be framed so that each line item points toward the congregation's stated mission? A budget is not simply a math worksheet. It is a ministry action plan.

How many different ways do stewardship and budgeting need to be presented so that people of every learning style and age have the opportunity to hear about them in their own language?

How might a stewardship campaign springboard into a year-round focus on giving as a spiritual discipline? Giving sacrificially is an opportunity to grow our trust in God.

Creative Commons "Money" by Pictures of Money is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Making quality decisions

"Good decisions can and will lead to bad outcomes. Instead of reasoning from the outcome, we have to spend more time thinking about the quality of the decisions we make." Thus argues Presbyterian pastor Ken Evers-Hood, who outlines in this Alban Institute article a six-step process (naming the context, coming up with alternatives, getting good info, aligning with core values, identifying blind spots, and committing to follow-through) for distinguishing between the means of making decisions and the results of those decisions. If you've ever been left scratching your head about why intentionality has led to disaster or why quickly-made choices have turned out better than expected, consider this decision quality chain (and its potential pitfalls) described in the article. 

Creative Commons "Chain Linkage" by Max Klingensmith is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Pastoral Study Project grant

Have you identified an issue that is pressing to Christian life, faith, and ministry in your context and others'? Would you like to have the resources and time to be able to study this issue and share your findings with colleagues and congregations? If so, consider applying for the Louisville Institute's Pastoral Study Project Program. Grants of up to $15,000 will be available in January 2016 to Christian clergy, church staff members, chaplains, denominational staff, and others regularly employed in recognized positions of pastoral leadership. It is also open to ordained ministers who are not currently employed by a religious organization. The deadline to apply is September 1, but potential applicants can ask for feedback on the short form of an idea by August 15.

Creative Commons "Suzzallo Library" by Wonderlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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