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Leadership Retreat offers ideas on building teams, action

Participants in the May 2013 Leadership Retreat at N-Sid-Sen identified three areas for focus of conference work in the coming year: youth and young adults, communications, and church growth and renewal.

Jeni Craswell

Jeni Craswell guides Leadership Retreat in planning for 2013 conference life.

The fourth identified area was social justice, on which there are currently efforts in progress, said retreat facilitator Jeni Craswell, a member of the Ministry Resources Committee with a master’s degree in leadership and community engagement from Seattle University.

“Teams grouped around the three priority areas and organized the different areas of work needing to be addressed and how the work could be presented as a Council Meeting Topic,” she said.

“We finished the meeting with a round of people making commitments to do one thing to move the work forward once they left the retreat,” she said.

At the retreat, participants:

• Gained a sense of where leadership felt the conference was thriving and where it needed to put attention;

• Tied the work into the vision statement created in 2012;

• Organized needed work into three focus areas and agree to work on one focus area at each Council Meeting in the 2013-2014 year, and

• Committed to do “one thing” to move a focus area forward so everyone attending the retreat had an action item and knew what to do next.

Jeni—a member of Bellevue First, community and donor relations officer of Imagine Housing and consultant in leadership and board facilitation with nonprofits—offered participants insights on leading meetings to build teams that commit to act.

“Eighty percent of the time should be in relationship building and 20 percent in doing the work,” she said.  “Time for building relationships helps people understand where others are coming from so they can more quickly make decisions.”

People start with sharing what stresses and joys in their lives to clear the air so they can be present for the work and those concerns do not overtake business later, she said.

“It’s important that everyone speaks, so they feel a part of the group,” Jeni said.

Teams form based on common interests.  Teams set agreements and ask for commitments for follow through that includes how members will support each other and keep connected. 

“There’s a fine line between asking too much and not asking enough,” she said.

“The best leaders have humility and can learn from each person in the room, from the ‘wisdom of the crowd.’  A team that can accomplish more through collaboration, in which everyone knows they need to work together,” she said.

She said meetings need an agenda and objectives; ways to welcome and engage attendees, and time for everyone to know their tasks and how to communicate between meetings.

For information, call 425-985-2505 or email

Copyright @ June-July 2103 Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News.


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