The Center for Clergy and Laity Excellence in Leadership: helping local churches seek vitality

The Center for Clergy and Laity Excellence in Leadership (CCLEL) continues to evolve to create vital congregations who make disciples of Jesus Christ equipped to make disciples who transform lives, communities and the world. Led by the Rev. Deidre Roberts, who began her work with the CCLEL in July, the staff works as a team to resource congregations committed to taking the next steps of the Bishop’s Mission Plan.
The CCLEL has trained and deployed 90 circuit elders and 32 lay congregational coaches into the mission fields of the Arkansas Conference. In its first 18 months, under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Kurt Boggan, the CCLEL led the denomination in defining the work of circuit elders. These pastors assist district superintendents in some administrative work, mentor local pastors and lead peer gatherings with other clergy. Every local church has an assigned circuit elder ready to assist their pastor and leadership team.

The staff of the Arkansas Conference CCLEL, clockwise from top left: The Rev. Dede Roberts, director; John Crawford, lay coaching coordinator; Che Dolan, administrative assistant; and the Rev. Dr. Candace Barron, assistant director.

Another early work of the CCLEL was the identifying, training and deployment of lay congregational coaches to churches who requested help in visioning, strategic planning and reaching beyond their walls into the mission field. To date, nearly 130 churches have been engaged in work with a congregational coach. Churches of all sizes can benefit from the expertise of these lay men and women who are committed to the UMCs of Arkansas. They bring a variety of experience and expert knowledge to this specialized work.

Local church goals
The Bishop’s Mission Plan offers the CCLEL an opportunity to focus their work on the Next Steps toward creating vital congregations. The CCLEL will be resourcing congregations to look more like their neighborhoods (Step 5); to grow by at least one in professions of faith, worship attendance, small group ministry and outreach ministry (Step 6); and to experiment with new ways to reach the “nones”—those who claim no faith relationship at all (Step 10).
In addition, the CCLEL will work with the Board of Laity and the Board of Ordained ministry to unleash lay leadership (Step 7) and grow excellent and passionate clergy (Step 8).
The CCLEL is asking superintendents to identify strategic churches in their districts who are ready to make disciples. In addition, the CCLEL is enhancing the coaching and circuit elder programs to better meet the needs of local churches as congregations seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
The CCLEL is also working closely with the Center for Technology to develop and link to online resources for training church leaders, understanding our faith as United Methodist Christians, learning to share our faith and grow as disciples.
How to get started
To make a request to work with a congregational coach and the CCLEL, contact your district superintendent.
Questions, feedback and ideas about how the CCLEL can resource your local church should be addressed directly to Roberts, or 501-324-8016.