Activity 2: The Ideal Congregational Leader

Activity 2: The Ideal Congregational Leader
Activity 2: The Ideal Congregational Leader

Activity time: 65 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Reflect on the characteristics of an "ideal" leader in your congregational setting.
  • Copy the handout for all participants.
  • Post several sheets of blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

This is a two-part activity. Part One (45 minutes) identifies the complex, varied set of skills, attributes, supports and circumstances that enable effective leadership. Part Two (20 minutes), introduces definitions of power and authority and applies them to the leadership components identified in Part One. The activity also helps participants express and relieve, through laughter, the anxiety they may feel about the responsibilities of a leadership role.

Part One

Tell participants the group will hold an audition for the post of "Ideal Lay Congregational Leader." Participants will work in teams to imagine an ideal candidate and present that person to the group.

Ask participants to form groups of three or four. Give each group a sheet of newsprint and some markers. Invite them to draw the Ideal Lay Congregational Leader and their surroundings, support mechanisms and other essential leadership tools. Indicate that imagination and whimsy are welcome; for example, if the Ideal Lay Congregational Leader must be able to fix anything that breaks, groups may depict the leader with a hammer and nails or a needle and thread.

Give groups 15 minutes to complete the drawings. Then, invite each group to present their drawing as you list on newsprint the attributes, tools, supports and surroundings they identify. Put a check next to items that are repeated. Allow about 30 minutes for small group presentations.

Part Two

Re-gather the large group and distribute Handout 1. Ask for volunteers to read aloud each definition. Invite comments or questions about the definitions.

Now ask the group to consider the newsprint list of attributes, tools, supports and context for the Ideal Lay Congregational Leader. Point out that while every item listed may help create an ideal leader, the items fall into different categories. Lead the group to use the definitions in Handout 1 to categorize each item as an example of power, formal authority, informal authority or skills. Assign a different color dot to each of the four categories and place the appropriate dot next to each item on your newsprint list. Where there is disagreement about category, or where an item seems to belong in more than one category, use more than one colored dot.

Lead participants to reflect on the difference between power and authority. Emphasize that power involves the ability to act and achieve a purpose, where authority is part of an exchange between or among persons or groups of persons. Invite the group to add any additional attributes, tools, supports and context they think are missing from the list.

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