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Training the Trainers: College for Congregational Development

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From the Rev. Chris Craun, St. Michael & All Angels, Portland.

Chris+ teaching at the College of Congregational Development.

In June, I served as an intern trainer for the College for Congregational Development in the Diocese of Olympia. After having completed the College last year, I was invited to try my hand at teaching. I fell in love again with how the College gives participants tangible ways to help congregations become healthier, more faithful and more sustainable. No matter what level of health, no matter what size, no matter what context – there are always ways to ask ourselves who we are, what makes us unique and how we respond to the world around us. It was great to interact with other clergy and lay leaders from congregations in our Diocese and meet new people from Rochester, Atlanta, Kentucky, Alaska, California, and our host city of Olympia. It is life-giving and inspiring to see people alive in the work of the church.

One part of the training focuses on one’s Myers-Briggs preferences. This name refers to the four-letter assessment which enhances our understanding of how we direct and receive energy, prefer to take in information and approach the world, and make decisions. What made this process especially fun and enlightening for me was in seeing how my preferences may or may not be aligned with the overall personality of St. Michael and All Angels, where I am the rector, and in determining where my blind spots might affect our visioning process!

It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong preference in the Myers-Briggs Assessment. It can be compared to the difference between people who like mountains and people who like oceans, and those who favor cats and those who favor dogs. There is no right or wrong but rather just a preference. The assessment can be an important tool, however, because it helps us see how we come to conclusions and even how we act under stress. I am an ENFJ. I am energized by the outer world. I like to initiate, focus on emerging ideas, seek to maintain harmony and appreciate closure. My sense of St. Michael and All Angels as an organization is that it is an ENFP. While this may not come across as a drastic departure from one to the other, it does highlight something worth paying attention to. I like to have things decided, and ENFPs prefer things to stay open-ended. One of the telling descriptive mottoes of an ENFP organization is the saying, Don’t miss an opportunity.

There were many ‘aha’ moments for me at the College. The Myers-Briggs Assessment was just one of them. It reminded me that I need to let the process take its course, and to give time for gathering, sharing and interpreting data. The journey continues to unfold, and I now feel more equipped to help along the way.

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