Integral Support for Pastoral Excellence

The human community has an urgent need for skilled pastoral leadership.

There may be no more complex and interpersonally treacherous job than pastoring a faith community.

You are invited to join a program which convenes a diverse group of clergy who meet routinely to mutually enrich our pastoral perspectives and abilities.

Following the training event [$100] [click here for more about the One-Day Workshop], attendees enter a Practice Group which meets twice a month in a two-hour session [$50/month].  The Practice Group defines the session content through the issues arising for the members in their ministry setting or any other area of their lives.  The Practice Group uses the process and philosophy defined and experienced in the training to address the issues. [click here for more about the structure of the program]

Some fundamental assumptions

  • The nature of reality is relationship. Relationship defines the human experience.  So then, the nature of a faith community is expressed
    • through safe and satisfying relationships between individuals [fellowship],
    • through the identity formed by being a community in relationship with other communities [mission], and
    • through the depth of knowing as Created in relationship with Creator [spirituality].
  • Humans have the capacity to be intentional about how we construct our relationships. The relational spaces we create are boundaries. Within these boundaries we construct diverse forms of relationship having different qualities.  It is healthy for us to construct relationships which help everyone experience the qualities they need.
  • While we long for deep and harmonious relationships, the chaotic nature of reality produces turmoil. When we can
    • observe that conflict with clarity,
    • address it with balance and equity, and
    • fully resolve it, at least for ourselves, then we move towards that depth and harmony.But we struggle.  And we long to become more adept.

Challenges of the pastoral role

Pastoring a faith community invites tensions that don’t exist in other professions:

  • Authority: have a steady hand giving sure guidance to the congregation… while matching members’ expectations.
  • Intimacy: be fully present to members when they are at their most raw and vulnerable… while never looking to members to meet your needs.
  • Self-care: make time for yourself, your family, and your friends… without missing a meeting or a pastoral visit.
  • Accountability: remain keenly aware of your various responsibilities and the roles the members expect you to fulfill… while members drop the ball on tasks they have volunteered for.

A compelling need:  to have strong faith communities as islands of sanity

It is always urgent that humans gather into communities that help to express and to mediate our relationship with the divine… and there are new reasons for the urgency.  These new perspectives include:

Theology: The language of our faith arises from a cosmology which is starkly at odds with the New Science.  Quantum mechanics, dark matter and dark energy, self-organizing systems, non-locality, and emergence are aspects of what is real that our theology either recoils from or crashes into and shatters.  We are not in a geo-centric universe, we observe evolution as the nature of creation, and we are experiencing rapid climate change that we have caused.  We need a theology that makes meaning of the world that is.

Ecclesiology: The social needs that were once the primary draw to membership in a faith community are now better met by other institutions.  Community and relationships through Meetup and Match.com are now virtual before they are face to face.  We offer service to others through Habitat or The Mission Continues.  We need faith communities that support our awareness of the divine and help us to align with a deeper purpose.

Sociology: While there has never been the social justice that will fully reveal the Realm of God, it seems our society is becoming less civil, less ethical, less rooted in universal care and concern.  We long to repair and rebuild our social institutions.  We need islands of sanity.  We need a way of being that addresses and repairs the polarities that are ripping us apart.  We need to not just keep the peace, but to be peace makers.

Join Integral Support for Pastoral Excellence

Integral  holding in a single framework of theory and practice all of the best perspectives on the task before us.

Support not simply training. This program is not about being told how you ought to behave.  It is discovering through the support of peers how you might be and then being held up as you learn to be that person.

Pastoral Excellence using the challenges of our profession to energize us to hone our skills and deepen our wisdom.