Are you called to lead?

01.11.2017 - Adult Conferences, Our Programs

Church Leadership conference features New York Times bestseller Rachel Held Evans

The Church Leadership Conference at Kanuga, co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church Foundation, does more than simply bring together well-known speakers and a community of leaders for discussion. This exciting conference teaches attendees new skills to enhance leadership strategy. This year’s theme is “Finding Your Place,” and the event will feature relevant contemporary speakers such as New York Times bestseller Rachel Held Evans. Register now, and reserve your place for the February 17 – 19, 2017 conference at Kanuga.

A moment with Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans joins the Rev. Canon Frank Logue and a team of workshop leaders to explore leadership within the church. Evans and other speakers will discuss effective courses for personal and congregation-wide growth.

Evans, an Episcopalian blogger and author from Tennessee, is known for her progressive and often humorous exploration of modern Christianity. Having grown up in an evangelical household, RHE (as her fans call her) joined the Episcopal Church in adulthood, compelled by the “ritual of things you can touch and see and feel. …Evangelicalism requires conforming to some beliefs that I don’t hold – from political affiliations to the rejection of certain marginalized groups.” Millennials who struggle to place themselves in contemporary Christianity might identify with Evan’s sentiment.

Grace and community > Haters and self-doubt

She has a dedicated following for her blog, over 100,000 followers on Twitter and a squad of supporters (along with her share of haters). So, how does Evans deal with hate mail? She turns it into origami. That’s really the job of a spiritual leader – to turn any experience, good or bad, into something beautiful, whether it’s a learning experience or a paper swan.

It’s not always easy for leaders to fend off doubt, especially self-doubt. “We should all give ourselves a little grace,” says Evans. “And we need to show each other grace as we deal with things differently. The best resource to combat self-doubt is to have the people in your life that know you well cheer you on. Not fans. Not haters. Those who truly care about your character and what you produce in your work. Check in with those people.”

How leaders approach change and uncertainty

Her most recent book, Searching for Sunday earned her a place on The New York Times bestseller list for e-books, as did her prior release, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. With her hands full nurturing the new addition to her family, she still finds time to pick up her pen. She also tours as a public speaker and maintains an enthralling blog that offers inspiration, support and thoughts to consider.

When asked why she would recommend attending the conference in February, Evans emphasized the critical need in our present social climate: “When I survey the world, especially post-election, the change seems so big. It can feel profoundly discouraging. You can’t fix it all, but you can impact lives in your community. Church ministry gives a great opportunity to do that. Now more than ever, it is important to connect to your actual community – not just on the internet. This gathering will be encouraging and inspiring.”

Despite much disagreement concerning sensitive politics within most communities, helping the marginalized nourish their faith doesn’t have to be an elaborate strategy. “Love and work with people on the margins. Refugees, ethnic minorities, the LGBT community – they all have existing groups. We need to connect with people doing good and important work for justice by getting involved and supporting established ministries. This means not only looking out for your own interests, but amplifying other people’s gifts.”

Change is not the only challenge we face. Evans explains, “There’s all this discussion about living in a post-truth culture. Establishing trust is an immediate need in a society with fake news stories en masse.”

Leaders are the “life of the gospel”

As for Evan’s message to leaders in the Church: “I respect and admire the work they do, and I’m not just saying this. I’ve had the privilege to meet lay people and clergy in small churches, in big churches, traditional churches and hipster churches – and it’s the people going to the hospital when a church member is sick who are doing real outreach. These people are so important in the life of the gospel. Be challenged by these people. Church leadership remains holy work, especially when done in the posture of Christ’s nature.”