I am writing today from Glen Eyrie, the Navigators Conference center in Colorado Springs where the American Anglican Council and LeaderWorks have just concluded our second Rectors Summit for Vision and Planning (RSVP). RSVP is a learning community for rectors and senior leaders of multi-staff congregations within the ACNA, as well as younger leaders of growing churches who are likely to become the next generation leaders of our largest, resource size congregations. One of the purposes of these gatherings is to provide a place where “iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17) as older leaders share their experience with younger leaders, where younger leaders encourage older leaders with their vision for the Church, and where all spend significant time in small groups sharing both the joys and the challenges of leading God’s people.
A learning community is not simply the impartation of knowledge from experienced leaders - though we had wonderful teaching from the Rev. Geoff Chapman on “The Pastor’s Heart” and from the Rev. Canon David Roseberry on “How to lead a growing church and develop of culture of generosity.” A learning community is also a place where peers share their questions, experience, wisdom and best practices in a spirit of humility and generosity. In the RSVP, there is a tangible atmosphere of recognition: “aha moments” shared from similar experiences and challenges in ministry, and a sense that you are among a fellowship of peers who understand exactly the challenges you are facing in your congregation. I believe the friendships built this week will carry on in the days and months ahead as leaders continue the heartfelt sharing and prayer they began this week.
Some of the topics we addressed were the importance of the heart of the leader, the sabbath rhythms of Jesus' life, ten canons every Rector ought to know, and how to develop your pastor's prayer team.
We believe that by strengthening the leaders of our growing churches, we create the kind of “resource sized” congregations that we see, for example, in the church of Antioch in the Book of Acts. We believe such leaders and churches will have the heart as well as the skills to plant new congregations and help resource smaller congregations to reach their communities with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Our next RSVP will be in November in New England. Please continue to pray for this strategic initiative to develop Biblically faithful leaders here in North America.
The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council.