As a result of significant transition among clergy within the Diocese of Lexington in a short period of time, the Diocese was presented with an unprecedented learning laboratory concerning congregational well-being and the type of leadership required as the Church negotiates the transitional time in which we live. A new way of thinking about the purpose and role of the church is imperative — much of which flies in the face of conventional, institutional wisdom. One of the “heretical” insights garnered concerned the importance of leadership to congregational life and ministry. Effective leadership, it was demonstrated, for a short period of time was a better use of resources and personnel than simply ensuring that the Sunday worship service was covered for a long period of time. And, it was realized that an inexperienced leader with imagination was more effective and valuable than experienced leaders that are tired (or burned out). In short, tenure is not the answer for vibrant congregations. Leadership is. If congregations are to be successful, the challenges being faced throughout the Church today must be reframed and engaged as opportunities for growth and development. And this requires congregations relearn and implement the fundamental teaching of the Christian faith — “the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.” As congregations are retaught to give rather than to hoard they become more likely to not only survive transitions but to thrive as a community and make significant contributions to the larger collective.
Dr. Kay Collier-McLaughlin is Deputy for Leadership Development, Transition Ministries, and Communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington (KY). She is well connected across the Episcopal Church and has a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of several books, including Big Lessons from Little Places: Faithfulness and the Future in Small Congregations.