Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Harvest the Power, 2nd Edition: A Lay Leadership Development Program for Adults

Activity 6: Keeping Priorities Straight in Congregations

(25 minutes)



  • Copy Handout 1 for all participants.
  • Pre-arrange with a participant to read the story and provide them with a copy of the story in advance.
  • Select an “art area” where participants will have room to draw and can easily share materials. Set out the art supplies.
  • Optional: Post blank newsprint.


Introduce this activity:

As congregational leaders, we must be aware that we are role models. Our actions and behavior can add to or decrease the stress of others in the congregation. How we handle situations that arise sets the tone for how others respond.

Distribute Handout 1, and ask the participant you chose to read it aloud. Invite two or three minutes of comment.

Point out that the handout suggests there is such a thing as keeping priorities straight. Invite participants to say what they think that might mean, or look like.

Ask participants to indicate whether they think it might mean “getting things done quickly and correctly,”

Now ask whether keeping priorities straight might be more of a moving target. Suggest that an effective, nimble process for collaborative, ongoing decision-making could be one way to “keep priorities straight.”


If our congregation has a culture that prioritizes “getting things done quickly and correctly,” we may be losing opportunities to build relationships within the leadership group. Although it may take extra time, listening, and negotiation to make space for each person’s gifts and strengths, the more connected the leadership team can stay to one another and to people in the congregation, the better and more supported will be their decisions. 


  • What would a congregation need to do to keep its priorities straight?
  • What would that look like in this congregation?

Invite participants to move to the art area you have set up. Ask them to create a drawing of a congregation that you believe has its priorities straight. Tell participants that the drawing can be abstract or representational; stick figures and symbols are welcome. Tell them that they will have 10 minutes to create their drawings.

Reconvene the group, and invite each person to share their drawing.

You may want to record their ideas on a sheet of newsprint the leadership group can revisit during a retreat, a goal-setting meeting, or the suggested Faith in Action activity for this workshop.