By Josh Speight
Brian McLaren met with the 2016-2018 Cohort of CBF Fellows by video as a part of the Fellows Mentor series. He met with these 16 first-call ministers to share his observations and to encourage them as congregational leaders.
In a style of question and response, Brian responded to their questions about leading in the midst of immense change; leading alongside pastors, staff, and other laity; and leading when resistance exists in the system/culture/community. Brian’s conversational style of teaching encouraged these ministers, who all serve as associate pastors, to lead from their giftedness. As called leaders gifted by God, each of these ministers (and many of us) have more power than we perhaps ever acknowledge. Brian’s point is to pay attention to the story we are telling ourselves when we lead. The same can be said about the church as it seeks to provide its own unique voice to the world. God has gifted the church for this time to speak the love and good news of Christ now – are we utilizing these gifts in our churches?
Brian affirmed that ministers aren’t just called to this good work because of creativity, but also because of a desire to serve. Using Edwin H. Freidman’s “Generation to Generation,” he reminded us that self-differentiation is something we should do on purpose because of our desire to serve others. Maintaining our identity, which is God-given, is healthy, holistic and an example of leadership. We are vocational ministers, but we are also Christians, part of the same body of Christ working to form the world through the Church.
Brian also shared about his ongoing work with the Center for Progressive Renewal and how it can be a resource for this cohort and their congregations. CBF is grateful for Brian’s friendship and for his time with the 2016-2018 Cohort.
Who are CBF Fellows?
CBF Fellows are clergy who are committed to life-long congregational ministry as their vocational calling. They are Christian clergy who have graduated or will graduate from an accredited seminary or divinity school within the past five years. They are individual members of CBF and/or members of a CBF partner congregation. They are people who are willing to learn from their peers sharing life together with them as they navigate the joys and sorrows of congregational ministry. CBF Fellows are also part of nurturing communities of faith that understand vocational ministry is a unique calling given by God – both to the person and to the congregation. Laity are essential to the wellbeing of ministers as they offer collaborative feedback and guidance so that both the minister and the congregation thrive in these early years together.
How do I apply for CBF Fellows?
Recent seminary/divinity school graduates (within the past five years, preferably) or soon-to-be graduates who have expressed a clear call to serve vocationally in the local congregation as minister are invited to apply. Applications are received online October 1 – December 31 of odd numbered years. New Cohorts begin in August of even numbered years and are announced in June at General Assembly. CBF Fellows Cohorts last for 22 months running from August through June of the second year.