Leadership development is a crucial challenge for every church and organization. The key is to link both skill development with character development. To get better at your craft while growing closer to Christ.
Ability + Maturity + Community
One approach to doing this is to build Praxis Leadership Communities. Based on the Cognitive Apprenticeship method of learning and the theory of Situated Learning and the Community of Practice model; a Praxis Community is an on-going learning community focused on both Craft and Character and centered in Community.
It has several key components all of which can be customized to match the need.
Context is the “what.” Context provides the area of training and development. Is the goal to train ministry leaders, community leaders, arts and media leaders?
The Community is the “who.” The answer to the context question provides a sense of who the community is that will be gathered and developed. People need others who can help foster, support, and challenge them in their growth and development. The community is essential.
Modeling of skills
Coaching in skills
Scaffolding up skills
Articulate meaning in their context
Reflect on their learning and development
Explore their learning
Craft is the “how.” What area are you seeking to develop and grow people? Craft is the domain focus (ex: teaching, art, leadership) to develop them as practitioners and leaders. Craft is the area or focus of training and development. The goal is to help people hone their ability in a chosen area such as leadership, ministry, worship, etc. We grow as leaders through on-going learning. We improve technically. We get better at what we do. We learn from each other by sharing what we know.
• Existing body of knowledge
• Latest advances
• Common Approaches
• Shared Standards
• Tacit Knowledge
• Explicit Knowledge
The Character is the “why.” Ultimately, we must help people grow not only as leaders but as followers of Jesus. Character development cannot be divorced from Craft. A spiritual formation thread that is woven all through the Craft and the Community to help leaders grow closer to Christ.
Content includes both skill specific content and leadership content. Skill specific content helps in developing their ability as artists, business leaders, worship leaders, etc. Leadership material forms them into influencers in the communities and contexts in which they “do” their craft. Content is curated and customized to meet the “craft” and “character” needs of the community.
• Case Studies
• Lessons Learned
Dialogue provides a means for people to process and make meaning of the content with others in the community.
One of the primary benefits of the Praxis community is providing a community where people can get help in overcoming their challenges. The community is a source of ideas and resources.
Helping others with problem solving, project planning, etc.
The community can provide wise advice and mentor those wrestling with challenges and projects.
Recognizing problem solving, creativity, innovation, progress, successes, and challenges that have overcome is important to support and encourage the community.
Ultimately the goal is for people to change and grow.
Better at what we do.
Learning and words must become action. Leaders are learners, and on-going learning is essential to be effective in our work.
More like Jesus in who we are.
Our character influences what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Our characters must be formed and directed by Jesus.
The key is customization. Each context has unique needs in terms of community, craft, character, and content. The dials and levers need to be adjusted to find the right mix for optimal development.