Training Modules

FRESH START comprises a set of 28 modules, each designed to be adapted to local diocese’s circumstances and program format. The material offers a menu of modules with flexibility to pick and choose the ones to be used. The modules are available in both print and electronic formats so that the material can be changed to suit the needs of each diocese.

Several modules are considered to be “Foundational.” These modules are important in giving participants a necessary introduction to issues of transition and a common language by which they can be described. Subjects considered to be “Foundational” are Getting to Know You, Exit and Entrance Issues, Systems Theory, History Taking and Understanding Transition and Managing Change.

The rest of the modules are more general and offer a broad range of topics to be wrestled with.  Some of the subjects addressed are based on theoretical models such as role clarity, decision making, power and influence, conflict awareness and church size.  Other modules are more focused on relationships and self care.  These include topics like understanding stress and burnout, finding support systems, working with the bishop and spiritual formation in transition.

In all cases, the modules are meant to be a launching pad for conversation among the participants.  The modules simply introduce important subject matter, it is the sharing by participants that creates a true learning community.

Foundational Modules 
(listed in suggested sequential order)
The modules listed in this section are considered to be foundational to the Fresh Start program. For those programs in which a “class” of participants begins at the same time, these modules should be used at the beginning, and in the order presented. If the program is ongoing, with participants entering and exiting at different times, these foundational models should be used at least on an annual basis.

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Getting to Know You for a Clergy Groupxx
Getting to Know You for a Mixed Group, Lay and Ordainedxx
Exit and Entrance: Patterns, Emotions and the Wildernessxx
Systems Theory: A Lens for Looking at Congregationsxx
History Taking and Understandingxx
Understanding Transition and Managing Changexx

General Modules (listed alphabetically)
Modules in this general section may be chosen according to the needs and interests of the participants. They are listed in alphabetical order by title, NOT by any suggested sequential order of importance or content. Pick and choose as best benefits your participants.

The Bishopxx
Conflict Awarenessxx
Conflict and Church Sizexx
Congregational Development 101xx
Decision Making: Style and Clarityxx
Goal Setting for Effective Ministryxx
Importance of Family and Friendsxx
Models of Leadership and Authorityxx
Mutual Ministry Cyclexx
Power, Influence, Authority and Control in the Congregationxx
Profile vs. Realityxx
Reinventing Leadershipxx
Roles: Clarifying Rolesxx
Roles: Habits, Norms and Expectationsxx
Roles: Understanding the “Pinch” and Renegotiating Rolesxx
Spiritual Care and Support of Leaders in Ministryxx
Spiritual Formation in Transitionxx
Strategies for Achieving Personal Balancexx
Strategies for Organizing Your Professional Lifexx
Understanding Church Typexx
Understanding Stress and Burnoutxx
Vestry Retreatsxx

Foundational Modules

Getting to Know You for a Clergy Group
This module introduces the clergy members of Fresh Start to one another at their initial meeting. It provides ways to get to know each other as individuals as well as get to know each other’s context of ministry. It begins to lay the groundwork for seeing our diversity and yet similarities as human beings in transition. (2003)

Getting to Know You for a Mixed Group – Lay and Ordained
This module introduces the lay and ordained members of Fresh Start to one another at their initial meeting. It provides ways to get to know each other as individuals as well as get to know each other’s context of ministry. It begins to lay the groundwork for seeing our diversity and yet similarities as human beings in transition. (2003)

Exit and Entrance: Patterns, Emotions and the Wilderness
We all have patterns of leaving and entering. This module helps participants, both clergy and lay leaders, understand that transitions have patterns, that transitions are complex and that they take lots of energy. Participants are asked to reflect upon their own experiences of exiting and entering this particular transition. (2003)

Systems Theory: A Lens for Looking at Congregations
This module introduces systems theory. It gives the participants some common concepts to help them understand the dynamics of their congregation. In addition, participants are given a common language for describing their congregations and how they functions. The module draws heavily on the work of Edwin Friedman and Peter Steinke. (2003)

History Taking and Understanding
Both the clergy person and the congregation come to this new relationship with histories. Not to know and understand those histories is to miss a large part of the context for ministry in this place. Using a history-taking process, participants will pay attention to the people and events which have shaped their congregations and themselves. This module outlines a way to do a “Learning from our History” session with the congregation and explains the benefits. This module can also be used for the actual “Learning from our History” session. (2003)

Understanding Transition and Managing Change
This module explores the universal effects of change in any system and explains four key variables in managing change – individual knowledge, individual attitudes, individual behavior, and group (organizational) behavior. (2003)

General Modules

The Bishop
At least one session annually should be given over to the bishop. This module outlines some of the issues the bishop might wish to address with his/her new clergy. One area of particular focus is the kind of relationship this bishop seeks with his/her clergy. This is an up-close-and-personal opportunity for new clergy to get to know their bishop and vice versa. (2000)

Conflict Awareness
Because conflict is to be expected in any community, it is not to be avoided but rather understood and addressed. This module introduces several ways of viewing conflict, ways of judging the intensity or seriousness of the conflict and suggests appropriate ways of responding. (2000)

Conflict and Church Size
This module explores the relationship between the size of a congregation and likely the way it fights. The focus of conflict is likely to be in certain areas depending on the size of a congregation. Likewise, the manner in which the conflict is conducted is largely determined by size-related patterns and structures. (2003)

Congregational Development 101
A review of church size theory will be combined with contrasting the “church you grew up in” with the “church you’re now worshipping or serving in.” The module examines the leadership style required in different size congregations. For a new leader this may be a different style than you have exercised before. Issues related to church size take on a special power during the time of transition for both clergy and lay people. (2003)

Decision Making: Style and Clarity
This module describes several methods of decision making and outlines the importance of prayer in any congregational discernment or planning process. The module includes tools for discerning which decision making method to use, who to include in the process, and stresses the importance of communicating with the appropriate people about decisions made. (2003)

Goal Setting for Effective Ministry: Hearing God’s Call
In order to effectively set goals for ministry, congregational leaders must look at where the congregation has been, where it is now and where it needs to go. This module suggests methods for determining where God calls us in ministry and how these goals might be set for the congregation. (2003)

Importance of Family and Friends
Too often clergy and lay leaders can become isolated and so focused on their role as leaders that they begin to lose their “selves.” This is not healthy for any human, and it is important to have church leaders discuss the need for good boundaries and support systems. This module uses one of Garrison Keillor’s stories from Lake Wobegon to help participants explore the relationship between their work and the people who support them. It also uses an exercise to help participants take a critical look at their own support systems. (2003)

Models of Leadership and Authority
This module uses John Maxwell’s five levels of “leadership and authority” to start a discussion about the participants’ own experience and style. Maxwell’s model is not presented as THE MODEL for leadership, but rather as a starting point for reflection. (2000)

The Mutual Ministry Cycle
This module helps clergy and lay leaders embrace the natural cycle of ministry that includes reviewing the ministry we mutually do together. In order to get to the “review” part we look at the nature of mutual ministry, planning our mutual ministry and doing the work of that ministry together. Participants discuss what mutual ministry reviews are, are not and their benefits for clergy and congregation. The module points participants to a new resource for doing MMRs. (2003)

Power, Influence, Authority and Control in a Congregation
This module introduces participants to various types of power in the congregation and gives them tools for assessing power structures. The module discusses what power is, how it can be used, and how to deal with both formal and informal types of power in congregations. (2003)

Profile vs. Reality
How do the parish profiles, articulated in the search process, compare to the reality clergy discover upon arrival in their new congregations? How does the congregation’s calling of this clergy person relate to the gifts described in the clergy profile? An exercise using the Church Deployment Office “Ministry Specialties” explores and normalizes the “gaps” between what the congregation wants and what the new clergy person brings. (2003)

Reinventing Leadership
Participants view “Reinventing Leadership: Change in an Age of Anxiety,” a video presentation by Rabbi Edwin Friedman, guru of “family systems theory, as applied to congregations.” This provocative and stimulating video stretches our understandings of what makes for good leadership, drawing upon examples from history and current popular culture. (2000)

Role: Clarifying Roles
This module helps clergy and lay leaders better understand the roles they are specifically asked to play as well as the roles they are unconsciously expected to play in a congregation. The distinction between job/task and role is explored. The module includes an exercise about role expectations for clergy and laity that encourages the sharing information which leads to more effective ministry. (2003)

Role: Habits, Norms and Expectations
This module looks at routines, norms and habits of both congregations and clergy. It provides a forum in which these can be identified and openly discussed. Participants will look at their own “sacred cows”. The module is designed to help clergy and laity share expectations that existed prior to the arrival of the new clergy person. It also gives clergy a chance to discuss their own routines, habits, schedules and their expectations of the congregation. (2003)

Role: Understanding the “Pinch” and Renegotiating Roles
What happens when you are unwilling or unable to fulfill an agreed upon (or sometimes unspoken) expectation? What are some strategies for dealing with the discomfort, or “pinch” that comes when expectations are not being met? How are roles renegotiated on a regular, non-reactive basis? What happens if the “pinch” is ignored? These are some of the questions addressed in this module. (2003)

Spiritual Care and Support of Leaders in Ministry
This module looks at the energy and time spent by congregational leaders, both clergy and lay, during times of transition. It offers an opportunity for leaders to share what they learned, how they were challenged and what gifts they discovered during the transition period. It provides a forum for conversation about how to honor leaders’ hard work both personally and ritually. (2003)

Spiritual Formation in Transition
This module encourages participants to talk about how they maintain their own lives with God during the stresses and strains of transition. The “rhythms of the spiritual life,” so important to wellness and balance, may be difficult to maintain in a new place, without familiar people and routines to draw upon. Resources for spiritual direction and support will be addressed. (2000)

Strategies for Achieving Personal Balance
Prevention of undue stress and burnout is the focus of this module, offering strategies for reducing stress, coping with destructive behavior and finding support. Clergy support groups, both facilitated and self-monitored, are explored as one means of maintaining balance. (2000)

Strategies for Organizing Your Professional Life
Organizational development and time management theories are used to help participants assess their own work styles and opportunities for improvement. The pros and cons of technology (email, FAX, cell phones, etc.) are debated. Concrete strategies for time and energy management are explored. (2000)

Understanding Church Type
This module uses the “Village Church vs. Camp Church” dichotomy to address the issue of respecting both our tradition (village church) and our need to reach beyond traditional constituents and invite non-Episcopalians (even non-Christians) to experience God’s presence in our worship. (2000)

Understanding Stress and Burnout
This module introduces participants to issues of wellness, stress and burnout. Inventories are used to offer an objective view of participants’ stress levels. Discussions focus on coping with the “disease of the over-committed” and strategies for self-care. (2000)

Vestry Retreats
This module explores the vestry retreat as a way of fostering collaboration between clergy and their vestries, for the building up of the Body of Christ, as expressed in the mission statement. Both the content of such retreats and the logistics which go into planning them are addressed. (2000)