The four regional directors for CBF’s peer learning groups gathered with Ruth Perkins Lee, Director of Church Engagement, and Dihanne Moore, Ministries Associate, in Atlanta on January 11 and 12. This meeting is an annual event during which we discuss PLG trends from the year prior and dream about ways to maximize the impact of peer learning on ministers and their contexts in the year ahead.
Here are some of the patterns we’ve noted:
- An uptick in the number of non-geographical PLGs. Improving technology, increasing isolation for clergy, and the desire to specialize a group’s focus around a demographic or topic have all led to more PLGs meeting by online platform. Your regional directors welcome this approach, even as we continue to support (with great enthusiasm!) local groups.
- Groups’ hesitation to request funding from CBF. Every PLG can request $500 every fiscal year to use on books, speakers, lunches, registrations for continuing education events, online platform fees, and other expenses, even if the group has not fully spent funds awarded the previous year. We encourage you to take advantage of this money to deepen bonds between group members and to grow in ministry.
- The usefulness of PLG member information. Funding proposals are considered complete when each group member has completed a brief member information form. This data helps PLG regional directors know what potential group members might be good fits for your cohort (if your PLG is open to new members), track member movements to other geographical areas in order to help them connect with local PLGs, and suggest resources that are appropriate to your group’s focus and demographics.
Here are some of the things we’re excited about for 2018:
- Short-term groups forming out of CBF events. CBF will pilot groups out of events like ChurchWorks that will allow for further reflection on the event topic and help participants build deeper connections with one another.
- Increased intentionality around inviting new members to open PLGs. The regional directors will help groups that are open to new members proactively reach out to potential new members.
- Emphasis on the multi-system, multi-generational impact of peer learning. The annual PLG breakfast at General Assembly will feature a family that has had two generations of clergy participate in groups. Attendees will hear the impact on those ministers, their families, and their contexts. (Registration for General Assembly and the breakfast are now open.)
- Outreach to ministers nearing or in retirement. Many pastors who have shaped CBF life are reaching the end of their formal careers, but they have many good years of missional work remaining and need support just like those still serving churches. We will seek out those ministers, particularly those not currently in PLGs, and build groups around them.
Do you have questions or suggestions for PLG staff? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us anytime.