Leading by Example to Create Pathways for Growth

January 6, 2021 | | GNJ News

The all-new GNJ Leadership Academy is connecting clergy and laity alike, resulting in stronger relationships, renewed confidence and the implementation of new techniques that are making worship and ministry richer and more fulfilling.

“Our goal is to have the best clergy and congregational leaders for the world who are leading the church forward and into the community with excellence,” said Rev. Juel Nelson, who is GNJ’s director of leadership development. “Christ-centered leaders are a catalyst to achieving the mission of the church through our congregation’s vision and goals.”

The academy will be expanding to provide year-round learning for clergy and laity. The goal is to create a pathway for learning where courses build upon one another and have clear outcomes that develop Christian leaders and church vitality.

“The vision is achievable,” said Nelson. “In 2021 GNJ will build on our current leadership development work and introduce the new expanded GNJ Leadership Academy with the goal of supporting laity and clergy, as they seek to develop their gifts and graces as transformational leaders, and guide their congregations to greater health and fruitfulness.”

The new program kicked off this October with Director of Worship Lan Wilson leading “Navigating Worship in the New Day.” For months Wilson has been building on his already extensive foundation to create new avenues for clergy and laity who are searching for new songs, unique worship ideas and technology that adapts to the virtual environment.

“Lan is an engaging instructor who facilitated and encouraged interaction via multiple means to support participation and encourage critical thinking about what we were looking to obtain from the course,” said Rev. Dr. Mark Tarmann of First UMC of Hammonton.

“Many of the perils I face are also being experienced by many others and in acknowledgement of that, we were able to brainstorm and incorporate Lan’s and other participants recommendations,” said Tarmann who said he has since shifted from PowerPoint to Worship Extreme.

Tarmann said that he learned new ways of uniting virtual and in-person worship. “Through his personal experience, Lan gave relatable non-virtually related advice, such as getting rid of the clutter and making the opening and closing of worship messages “mind blowing” for which I have put into practice with positive feedback  from our members.”

In November, Chuck DelCamp, of Haddonfield UMC, chair of GNJ’s Commission on Communications and IGNITE stage producer, led the program, “Making Worship Work Behind the Scenes” in which he explored a toolbox of worship and technology. He helped participants create a customized worship plan to embrace something new, learn best practices and incorporate worship technology as part of an overall experience to grow leadership skills in an effort to take a team to the next level through communication, recruitment and organization.

With this new-found enthusiasm in hand, the GNJ Leadership Academy will resume its programming in 2021, ringing in the new year with a program about small groups in January.

“These Small Groups Make a Difference” will be hosted in January with Rev. Gina Yeske, director of small groups, Daniel Jimenez and Vivian Naa-Awa Nelson-Appiah, small group developers.

Exploring the dynamics of sharing, learning, prayer and action, this program scheduled for three Thursday evenings will focus on unique styles of gathering that have moved small groups from an activity to a lifestyle: Supper Groups, Covenant Groups and Children’s Groups.

This training can be accessed via computer, smartphone or non-Wifi compatible phone. It will equip participants with the tools needed to develop, promote and lead transformational small groups in their local church setting and virtually. It is recommended for those who engage in the ministry of small groups, currently lead or are interested in leading a small group in their congregation.

In February GNJ’s Director of Mission Ashley Wilson along with Rev. Luana Cook Scott of Morristown UMC and Hope Center Developer Andrea Wren-Hardin will lead three Wednesday evening sessions of “Missional Engagement that Opens Hearts, Minds and Doors,” where participants will learn best practices for engaging in mission that is relational, transformative and uses the gifts and assets of a church and community.

This course is recommended for mission and outreach committees, clergy and those interested in developing hands-on mission in their communities.

The enthusiasm to grow together has been contagious since the GNJ Leadership Academy’s onset, and the prospect for more growth looks likely.

“The potential that is before us is truly energizing,” said Nelson who noted that 90,000 disciples in GNJ are invited on this journey.

“GNJ wants to come alongside you on your journey. The Leadership Academy courses will require your commitment, but in exchange you will grow in a deeper understanding, receive honest constructive feedback, develop new skills and form new relationships, that will help strengthen your leadership and impact in ministry.”

For more details, including a recording of the first program, and to register (deadline is one week prior to the start of each session), visit www.gnjumc.org/2020-leadership-academy/.

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  • Juel F. Nelson