Also see Program FAQs for information that applies to both the diocesan and national programs
Q - How well does the program help participants develop an awareness of and intervention skills for complex parish dynamics?
A - The design is effective for most participants in:
- Increasing your awareness of, and resources for, the multiple levels of parish system activity (self, group, organizational, spiritual)
- Increasing your awareness of options for intervention as a leader
- Increasing your range of behavior for leadership
Having said that — it is still true that some participants have a tendency to over-rely on “rules”, theories, intuition, or some favorite approach to learning or intervening. The program moves most people toward a more integrated, broader, and deeper approach.
If you wanted a more compete competency in organization and congregational development, if you had an interest in becoming a professional in the filed, you might decide to supplement training with lab training (experiential training in human, conflict, consultation skills, design skills, and group development and a mentoring-reflective process with someone more experienced.
Q - Is it best to send a parish team?
A - Yes, a team that includes the clergy, is likely to produce the best results. The team needs to be made up of people respected by others in the parish.
Sometimes a rector or vicar wants to attend before involving others from the parish. That’s acceptable. However, in most cases it won’t bring the same returns for the parish.
Q - How much of what I learn in my first couple of weekends is likely to have some immediate application in the parish?
A – Almost all of it. The first weekend is usually about emotional and social intelligence. You’re likely to have experimented with a broader range of behavior than you usually do in the parish. It’s up to you do transfer those new understandings, skills, and behaviors to your back-home situation.
The program is designed so that our work around the three themes can be directly used in the parish. That’s certainly true in regard to methods and tools. If you stay with your own growth as a person and leader, you’ll find yourself trying new behaviors in the parish as well as the rest of your life.
Also, you’ll be implementing developmental initiatives (projects/interventions) between weekends. That’s direct application. As you do the work on initiatives you’ll have the opportunity to 1) Learn to design, implement, and learn from interventions. 2) You’ll be helped to explore the appropriateness of the initiatives given your skill level, the readiness of the parish, and the strategic needs of the parish. 3) You’ll be helped to distinguish the difference between launching a lot of programs and activities and engaging in efforts that are truly developmental, that contribute to the long-term health and faithfulness of the parish.
Q - How demanding is the program?
A – Shaping the Parish is intensive, hard work. There are readings and a project between each weekend.It is also emotionally demanding. You will be expanding your range of personal and leadership behavior and in that process receiving feedback in the workshop and the parish. The program is likely to challenge and stretch you.
The stance needed is “This is what I’m doing for the next 16 months.” Start by putting all the dates on your calendar. If you know now that you can not make dates on the program schedule, you should not register. The program is based on full participation at every weekend session.
Q - What if I need to take-off a weekend because I’m ill, need a break, or ___??
A - You are expected to arrange things so you are able to be fully participate in all work sessions, worship and the social activities. We are building a learning community and your participation is essential to that. If you miss weekends or part of a weekend due to family emergencies or your own illness you need to make up the work (see link on Full Participation). If too many sessions are missed you may need to drop from the program (and begin over again.) If you drop and start over there will be an additional fee required.
Here are a few examples that may help you understand the boundaries —
- If you decide to take a few hours off because you are tired or feel overloaded; or decide to go to dinner with your spouse or partner instead of attending the evening session — You will be asked to leave the program; these are indicators that you selected the wrong program.
- If you come down with the flu and are out for a weekend — We will work with you to reconnect you with the group and provide make up work. That is likely to involve attending a make up day and a good bit of written work before the next weekend session.
- If something truly awful happens in your life, e.g., a member of your family dies. Something that means you will miss a significant part of the experience. — We will work with you as possible, e.g., you may be able to do make up work at another program or attend a couple of days of training in the work you missed. It is possible that you will need to drop out and rejoin in another year. Given the circumstances we are likely to give you credit for part of the conference fee (but the fee is not refundable).
- Clergy need to schedule parish activities, including weddings and funerals around the program.
- If anyone ends up missing more than one weekend they will need to drop from the program.
Q - What participation is expected in the maintaining of the learning community?
A. - Here are some examples of what you can do to contribute to the learning community.
- Be familiar with the material from the readings. That allows you to really offer something when you are working in a team with other participants. It also allows you to focus more on the application of theory and methods.
- Come in having completed and reflected on your developmental initiative.
- Actively help things work, e.g., in facilitating a working group, by helping clean up the space at the end of the day, and by saying something when you are unclear about instructions or theory.
Fully participate in worship and the meal times. You will be asked to assist in worship and in the daily set-up & clean up.
Q - What are my options if something happens that makes it impossible for me to continue in the program?
A - If it’s early in the program you’d need to begin over. If it’s toward the very end there may be some form of make up work that can be done. Fees are not refunded.