On January 16-17, MGSOSA Midwest held a 2-day leadership conference. The conference was mainly focused around the theme of "Community". It was a blessed and enlightening experience to all who attended.
Friday's session was led by seminarian Shawn Thomas. Shawn spoke on 1 Corinthians 12-13. We learned that although we all have many functions, we are all part of one body. Shawn (through the Corinthians passage) challenged us to look beyond skills/gifts and to approach one another with love as we serve each other. You can view a couple excerpts from Shawn's message below.
After the message, we spent some time looking at 2 Biblical leaders: Moses and St. Mary.
From Moses's life, we learned he was reluctant to lead and yet God's advice and comfort to him was basically "I'll be with you." We also saw through his life, that he was called to go back and serve people he hadn't been with for years. From that, we learned how we may be called to serve in uncomfortable places, but yet love those we serve. We spent some time discussing how, in today's world, Moses's speech problems would immediately knock him out of most secular/business leadership roles. Yet, we see God looks beyond the outside and into the heart as he chooses Moses to lead His people.
Looking at St. Mary's life from the perspective of leadership was very interesting as typically we don't picture her as a leader -- yet we learned the Church holds her in the highest honor among the saints. Her leadership style was quiet - not boisterous. It took courage and conviction. We also learned St. Mary was very young. All these characteristics painted a picture of leadership qualities we need to strive for today.
From these two people, we saw the type of leaders the God looks for: ones that are committed to Him and ones that are willing to love,
Saturday's sessions were a unique twist to the typically speaker-led conferences. We used 3 hand-picked videos about community and leadership from TED. After each video we had a dicussion about the concepts from the video and how it applies to the church community.
Video Session 1: Tribes
The first video was about "communities" (or tribes as the speaker refers to them) and what makes them great. Please see the video below:
Video points that a community/tribe is in one of 5 stages:
- Stage 1 - Life it self is horrible
- Stage 2 - Life maybe ok, but my particular life/community is horrible
- Stage 3 - Ultra-competitive: "I am greater/smarter/better than you"
- Stage 4 - Prideful community: "We as a tribe/community are great"
- Stage 5 - Interworking communities
The discussion focused around what stage we feel our church communities are at and how to improve. We all seemed to agree most of our parish communities are at Stage 3 or 4. For some that felt we were at stage 4, we considered whether it was Christ that bound us together or pride. We talked about how good leaders are able to bring separate "tribes/communities" together -- for example, being able to invite and introduce members from our different sister parishes to one another.
Video Session 2: Why is it important to be spiritually pure?
The second video was about "cheating" - we related this to "spiritual cheating." Please see video below:
The disucssion focused around the need for leaders to be constantly striving to be better. The question came up as to whether it was possible to be spiritually pure? We realized by human effort it is impossible, rather we are required to keep striving to be better. We took some time after the discussion to share our struggles and to encourage one another to persevere.
Video Session 3: As leaders, how do we approach others?
The third video was about "loving style of leadership". Please see video below:
This video shows a better way to lead rather than through authority alone. In essence, love is the key to Christian leadership. We are not leaders with servants; rather we are leaders who should be serving those around us. This affects the way we should approach one another - whether at church or away from church. The question posed to us during the discussion: do we as leaders approach those around us to serve them and help them be better than us? OR is it so that we can look good?
Event Planning Praticum
Following the discussion around the videos, we spent some time talking about pratical skills in planning events and played out a simulation event planning. You can find a checklist of some basic event planning TODOs here.
The final discussion on Saturday tied up the various concepts and themes from the morning about community. We talked about struggles we face in the community - especially as youth: depression, peer pressure, drugs. We talked about the need for each of us to be there for one another. The church is required to be there to help people with their struggles -- and when we refer to the "church" we are talking about us as members of the church. Some of us shared some of the struggles we had faced previously and how they were overcome.
The Saturday session closed with evening prayer.