Featured Article: Academy for Congregational Excellence

The 2011 session of the Alabama-West Florida Conference authorized the creation of a new agency to provide leadership development for clergy and laity. This new agency is named the Academy for Congregational Excellence (ACE). Among its first actions was to send out a survey asking: what do church leaders need to become more effective? As a result of survey responses, 5 initiatives have been identified and ACE will be working in these 5 areas:

1. Building Effective Leadership Teams
2. Preaching Excellence
3. Missional Church
4. Clergy Self-Care
5. Basic Leadership Skills

Both laity and clergy identified "building effective leadership teams" as the number one need. Here are two exciting programs designed to address this need.

1. EQUIP. This is an established leadership development program designed by Dr. John Maxwell, the foremost teacher of leadership principles in the country. It has been used successfully in over 100 countries around the globe. EQUIP is Biblically based, teaches church leaders how to lead effectively and how to team lay and clergy together for fruitful ministry. It is a "train the trainer" model, meaning the Academy for Congregational Excellence will train leaders in our conference, they then will train their own congregations and be available to go into other churches to do training. The initial EQUIP training will be at Blue Lake, Feb. 17-18. Among those identified to receive the training are Helen Edwards, Conference Director of Lay Speaking; John Croft, Conference UMM President; and District Lay Leader Beverly Maddox.

Here is part of why I am so excited about EQUIP: we will focus this effort on small membership churches. We have so many small congregations and their pool of leaders is small; this effort should bless and grow these churches.

2. The Academy for Congregational Excellence will partner with Spiritual Leadership, Inc., a highly successful church leadership firm out of Lexington, Kentucky, to build a culture of effective teams in AWF. They will help us: 1) Train new leaders, lay and clergy; 2) Train existing leaders, lay and clergy; and 3) Train local church teams of lay and clergy. This initiative is just beginning; you should hear more about it in the near future.

The mission of the Academy for Congregational Excellence is: Effective Leaders, Fruitful Churches. I look forward to working together with committed laity across Alabama-West Florida as we increase the level of excellence in our churches. Please let me know what I can do to be of service to you, your pastor, and your congregation. May God bless us as we give Him our best!

Herb Sadler
Executive Director
2600 W. Strong Street
Pensacola, FL 32505
phone: 850-430-4300
email: sgutting@mchsi.com