“Easter people in a Good Friday world,” was the sermon title shared by a Gammon student this past Easter. In late March, I along with Superintendent Varlyna Wright and Director of Mission Nicole Caldwell Gross visited Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta as we recruit the brightest and best for GNJ’s future. Gammon is a historically Black United Methodist Seminary that has trained future bishops, superintendents, civil rights leaders and transformational leaders.
The school administration gathered five students for us to meet with individually and share lunch. We gathered in a soul food restaurant just a half a mile away from the seminary. We watched and listened to the students as they engaged in two hours of conversation. They were passionate about what they were learning and their field education placements. One talked about growing a university campus ministry from a handful of students to almost 100. Another talked about being part of a creative process team at United Methodist Impact Church. She talked about the Good Friday service called, They Got Away with Murder based on a television series. Another talked about how they enjoyed their classes and the opportunity to challenge professors and ask important questions. They all talked about connecting with the community and reaching new people. They talked about the importance of listening and connecting with new people based on their interests.
As we listened, we realized we were in the presence of transformational leaders. They were in their 20’s and early 30’s and had already exemplified the character, culture and competence we are looking for in clergy leadership. They were putting it all together.
I believe the church and the world needs transformational leaders. Leaders who form and inspire passionate disciples, grow vital congregations and transform the world. GNJ Transformational Leaders are lay and clergy believers who are Christ-centered and Holy Spirit led. They embody the character, possess the competency and fit culturally with the GNJ mission. I call all GNJ lay and clergy leadership to grow in the character, culture and competency as we seek to make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world.
- Passionate – leaders with a contagious love for God and others.
- Open – grace-filled leaders who are grounded and yet embrace new ideas, people and learnings.
- Relational – leaders who connect with others through their interests and ideas.
- Learning – life-long learners who are teachable and coachable.
- Creative – leaders who are curious, take risks and apply innovative ideas.
- Trust – leaders who trust and grow trust with others.
- Disagreement – leaders with the ability to disagree in order to create better outcomes.
- Commitment – leaders who are willing to commit to and follow through with action plans.
- Accountability – leaders who take responsibility and are accountable for their work.
- Results – leaders who are results oriented and are focused on the goal.
- Transformational – Spirit-led pioneers who initiate a vision, develop strategies, and inspire people to work together to achieve a life and world changing mission.
- Analytical – leaders who make excellent decisions and resolve challenges using prayer, scripture, knowledge, input from others, data and experience.
- Multiple Project Managers – leaders who are flexible and adapt to added work or challenges.
- Organized – leaders who plan, formulate steps, prioritize and carry out work on time and with excellence to accomplish stated goals.
- Communicators – leaders who listen for understanding, articulate with clarity and express directly and clearly through verbal and written communication.
We shared with these students about the challenges we are facing in GNJ, that we have high expectations and that we come along side of our leaders with coaching, PaCE groups, Team Vital and Communities of Hope to resource and support them. These students found it to be refreshing that GNJ would talk openly of our challenges, be direct that we expect a lot and that we support clergy with resourcing. Four want to come and visit New Jersey and a fifth is interested in Drew School of Theology’s PHD program. I invite you to pray that God will raise up and call the leaders we need to make a difference for God.
I have experienced outstanding transformational leaders already here in GNJ. We will continue to develop our existing leaders as we recruit new transformational leaders because we are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.
Keep the faith! John Schol, Bishop