July 19 ,  2018
Academy of Artful Leadership
by Charity Potter

Have you ever wished for a continuing Education event that was actually applicable to your real-life ministry? Well your wish has been granted! I am honored to be an adjunct faculty member for the Academy of Artful Leadership. The Academy brings together gifted leaders who are steering congregational change. We provide a series of facilitated peer conversations around major themes in ministry, followed by individual coaching. The outcome is greater clarity and calculated movement toward transformation within a congregation.

The Academy of Artful leadership is 8 month program consisting of 8 90-minute group sessions designed to spark dynamic conversation around key themes in ministry. In addition, there are 6 individual one-on-one coaching sessions with a trained coach, focusing on the challenges and opportunities in ministry. It will run from September 2018 through May 2019 and be conducted via video-conference and telephone calls providing you with maximum flexibility. The cost is $880 which is significantly less than the cost of the coaching alone! The cost can be spread between both calendar years for budget purposes. And don't forget the Continuing Education scholarships available through our Presbytery as well as the Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation.

Transformation happens when we take what we learn, consider it in our own context, identify what needs to happen, and put in place specific action steps to achieve the vision. Are you ready to thrive in your ministry? I truly believe this course has the power to help you achieve that and so much more.

For more information call me at 402-870-1059 or email charitypot987@gmail.com.

Or go to https://academy-of-artful-leadership.teachable.com/p/artful-leadership-potter to sign up.

Good Reads

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Over the past few decades, the roles women play in public life have evolved significantly, as have the pressures that come with needing to do it all, have it all, and be all things to all people. And with this progress, misogyny has evolved as well. Today's discrimination is more subtle and indirect, expressed in double standards, microaggressions, and impossible expectations. In other ways, sexism has gotten more brash and repulsive as women have gained power and voice in the mainstream culture.

Patriarchy is still sanctioned by every institution: capitalism, government, and even--maybe especially--the church itself. This is perhaps the ultimate irony--that a religion based on the radical justice and liberation of Jesus' teachings has been the most complicit part of the narrative against women's equality. If we are going to dial back the harmful rhetoric against women and their bodies, the community of faith is going to have to be a big part of the solution.

Did you serve a Nebraska congregation as an installed pastor but are now retired? The Nebraska Presbyterian Foundation provides an annual monetary gift to retired PCUSA pastors as a thank you for your ministry and service to the church. We have many already on our recipient list but looking for anyone we may have missed. Please contact the Foundation office at 402-420-9877 or arichert@nebpresby.org for more information on the Malmsten Fund.

Understanding 'why' before 'what'
By Richard Hong | Presbyterians Today
Too often we hear about something that is successful for another church and, when we look into it, our immediate thought is "that won't work here." We often reject what it is before understanding why it works. Why it works is about inner connection, not surface trappings.

How should we analyze events? My analogy is to how chefs create a dish. There are only five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. Chefs understand how to layer and balance these tastes.

One of my current favorite food-oriented documentaries is "Ugly Delicious" on Netflix, starring Chef David Chang of Momofuku in New York City. In one episode, he is eating a dish that has an extraordinary amount of fat. However, the chef had also added vinegar powder, and Chang remarks, "there's enough acidity to balance the fat." I didn't know that, but now I'll always remember that acidity balances fat.

What are people looking for?
In another episode, he is talking to Rene Redzepi, chef of Noma in Copenhagen, which had been named World's Best Restaurant four times by Food & Wine magazine. Redzepi said, "I think increasingly when people go out they want something that's more home cooking whereas maybe before it was people wanting something they don't get at home."

Then Chef Chang's wife added: "That reminds me of when I had my first Noma dinner. It reminded me of something my mom used to make, and it was so homey, it was so unexpected. ... I had no idea that I could feel this way about food." They are understanding the emotional connection being made by their food. It's deeper than flavor.

When you see a successful program or worship style elsewhere, the question isn't whether you can replicate it; the question is whether you can understand how it touches people. Why does it work? What are people relating to? For example, you may see a worship service that employs techniques you would not or cannot use, whether it is a rock band, fog machines or dancing lights. But are people attracted to the lights - or to the energy level? Then ask, would your worship benefit from a higher energy level? Could you raise the energy in different ways? Replicate the connection, not the mechanics.

Churches touch emotions
Churches succeed through emotional connection. Just as there are only five tastes, there are only a handful of basic human emotional needs. People need a sense of belonging, a sense of hope and a sense of purpose. People need to feel loved and to feel reassured. We don't all have the same needs at the same time, but we have the same needs some of the time. These needs also shift, and vary from person to person.

Understanding the emotional connection that is being made is the key to understanding why something works. Then you will be able to achieve a similar result in your congregation. When you look at your worship and your programming, what emotional touch points are you hitting - or missing? Are there multiple touch points, and are they balanced? Is there both high energy and space for contemplation? Is there a balance between comfort and challenge? Do people leave feeling inspired and hopeful?

People no longer feel an obligation to attend church. If they do, a void is being filled. People do not give up 20, 30, or even 50 Sunday mornings a year lightly. Churches that are attracting new adherents are connecting with them at a deeper level, and not all in the same way. When you understand how that connection is being made, you have a better chance of designing programs and worship services that will connect with people in your community.

Keep Thinking...

Take rest. A field that has been rested bears a bountiful crop.

Photos from the Presbytery