In this issue:
  • Don't miss next week's webinar with Marilyn Johns
  • A report from February's Open Forum: "The Changing Face of Small Churches"
  • Links to recordings from our Fall webinars
  • Don't give up ALLLM for Lent; if you haven't renewed your membership yet, there's no time like the present
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Upcoming events -- Mark your calendar now

Tuesday March 15, 2016 -- 2pm - 3:30pm Eastern Time

One Body, Many Parts:  Continuing Education Programming for Smaller Congregations
  • facilitator: Marilyn Johns, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond VA
  • The lifelong learning program that Marilyn leads at Union Presbyterian Seminary has a significant focus on supporting the leaders of Smaller Congregations. She'll pick up on the questions and concerns raised in the February Open Forum, and lead us into some reflection on current thinking about how Smaller Congregations are different from the ones most of us were trained to lead, and what she's learning about how to support them.

The Changing Face of Small Churches

report from our February 23 Open Forum

Our ALLLM Forum met on February 23 to kick off our new series of webinars on Continuing Education for the leaders of Small Churches. Ten of us gathered online to reflect on the varieties of ways that our institutions and judicatories are already trying to respond to the needs of these leaders, and to begin to identify what more could be done.

Distinguishing between Different Sorts of Small Churches

In the midst of the discussion we realized that there are a variety of different types of “small churches,” each with their own needs and ministry focuses. While there’s some overlap in terms of characteristics and con ed needs, the differences mean that we may sometimes need to focus our con ed programming to a particular subset of the small churches in our regions. Here’s the list of different types of small churches that we generated together. The list was generated quickly, and of course there might be others we would want to add given more time:
  • small churches that have ALWAYS been small
  • small churches that are transitioning from one size to another
  • small churches that are dying and need help to close with dignity
  • small churches that are strong and vibrant
  • rural small churches and urban small churches – which may have very different characteristics and leadership needs

Changing Forms of Leadership

Everyone in the Open Forum agreed that their region was experiencing a growing number of small churches, and that inevitably this has an impact on the nature and tasks of leadership.

The changing place of church in society, the aging of our church membership, and the financial pressures related to shrinking membership numbers are all having an impact on what church leaders (clergy and lay) can do, how much time they can put into leadership, and even the tasks that they may have to address.

If continuing education for church leaders is about offering in-service support to personnel who need to hone new skills and/or re-focus their energies, it’s important for us to identify the changes that these leaders face. Here’s a list (again not intended to be complete) of ways in which we see the role of church leaders changing in this decade:
  • churches in more remote areas are more frequently (than in the past) led by lay leaders who have varying levels of theological education, rather than by professional ordained clergy.
  • some of our institutions are being invited to offer both credentialing education to lay leaders and/or continuing education for lay people offering worship and pastoral care in remote places
  • in some areas clergy with MDivs are being asked to function more like Methodist circuit riders, and to oversee lay leadership and/or lead a team of lay leaders who minister in a variety of small churches
  • a substantial number of churches require their clergy to move to part-time  for financial reasons – how does this change what they’re able to accomplish? where they should put their focus?
  • other churches are moving to non-stipendary clergy. What kinds of educational support do these folks require?

Future Webinars

As we plan future webinars in this series on Continuing Education for Leaders of Small Churches, we’ll seek out resource people who can help us understand these changing trends better, and to articulate both the needs of our audience and ways to begin to address them.

It’s clear that the church across the continent is in the midst of a major shift in terms of how we understand congregational leadership, and how we support and train the skills and approaches that will help the small churches that are emerging to be vital, strong and confident. That’s a challenge for us, whether we’re in educational institutions or in judicatories charged with overseeing these ministries.

Join us over the next several months as we continue to explore our collective ministry as Leaders of Lifelong Learning.

Thursday April 28, 2016 -- 3-4pm Eastern Time

  • ALLLM Annual Meeting
  • Oddly enough, we're supposed to hold an Annual Meeting once a year! This will be a chance to gather online and talk about ALLLM ... what we've done in the past year; what we hope to do next; what the needs of our membership are. In addition to the regular administrative things that have to happen at any AGM, we'll be inviting reflection and feedback on the webinar series we've hosted over the past year. We'll be interested in your ideas about what topics ought to be addressed in future webinars; whether you think we ought to start planning for another face-to-face conference; and other ways that ALLLM could be helpful to our collective ministry equipping the leaders of the church. Please plan to join us for this important conversation.

Membership Renewal Time

We don't think of ALLLM membership as "penance" for Lent! But we do hope that it prepares us to be leaders of an Easter people.

As Leaders of Lifelong Learning for Ministry, we're called to equip disciples. Please help ALLLM serve your ministry in the months to come. 

Your membership fees help us support you,
and other providers of lifelong learning programs
through our webinar series,
our e-newsletter
and periodic face-to-face conferences.

There is no change in the fees for 2016.
$30/year for retirees and students
$60/year for individual practitioners
$100/year for institutional membership (up to five members)
$200/year for institutional membership (unlimited number from your institution)

Click HERE to join or renew for 2016

Webinar Recordings

Our webinars are designed to promote "live" interaction. It's always a privilege to connect with thought leaders in an informal setting, and have the chance to ask as many questions as possible.

But we also know that continuing educators are busy, and sometimes it's just not possible to join in on the day. Since we're trying to build an audience for this program, our Christmas gift to you is a collection of links to recordings of all the webinars we've done so far. We hope that if you enjoy these, you'll join up for one of the next "live" events, coming soon to a computer near you.

Click on the title of each webinar to view the recording:

Technology & Ministry: Pitfalls and Possibilities
   with Craig Detweiler, Pepperdine University in Malibu

Beyond the Talking Head -- how to make webinars interactive and engaging
   with Stephen Fetter, United Church of Canada

Online Classes for Congregations & Educational Institutions
   with Von Clemans, PC(USA)) pastor/educator in Charlotte, NC

Strategies for Digital Storytellers
   with Kimberly Knight, Agnes Scott College and Extravagance UCC.

New Media and Community Formation: What's at Stake?
   with Verity A Jones, Christian Theological Seminary and the New Media Project

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