There are many resources available to those who wish to create or sustain clergy peer learning groups, a subject I wrote about for the current issue of the Century. Many can be found at Pastoral Excellence, which, along with describing strategies for initiating or
supporting peer groups, offers articles, resource lists and examples
of peer learning.

These seven books
offer further help in thinking about the structure and content of peer groups:

God's Potters: Pastoral Leadership and
the Shaping of Congregations,
Jackson W. Carroll. Carroll draws on data to examine the state of Protestant and Catholic
clergy at the beginning of the 21st century. He addresses the changing roles of
clergy and laypeople, the future of women in ministry and the shifting supply
of clergy; and he offers strategies for cultivating excellence in ministry.

Know Your Story and Lead with It: The Power of Narrative in Clergy
by Richard L. Heste and Kelli Walker-Jones. The authors help clergy
explore and articulate their stories and then use these stories as a resource for
leadership. The book grows out of
the authors' work with clergy peer groups in the Lilly-funded Sustaining
Pastoral Excellence project.

Pursuing Pastoral Excellence: Pathways to
Fruitful Leadership,
By Paul E Hopkins. Hopkins explores the stories of seven
pastors to show pathways to leadership--and to illustrate practices that lead to
clergy burnout.

Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful
Christian Ministry,
by Gregory L. Jones and Kevin R. Armstrong. This book provides the
theological basis for exploring pastoral excellence. The authors focus on the practices of living as faithful
disciples and the ministries of pastors, lay leaders and congregations that
embody "a more excellent way."

The Art of Convening: Authentic
Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations,
by Craig and Patricia
Neal. This
book describes a system of convening that includes nine principles and
practices for conversation. These
aspects provide a model facilitators might use to assess the life of a peer
learning group.

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an
Undivided Life
, by Parker J. Palmer.  Palmer describes the ways in which
"circles of trust" support peer group commitments. He provides a helpful framework, along with poetry, exercises
and stories for thinking about group dynamics.

Sabbath in the City:
Sustaining Urban Pastoral Excellence,
by Bryan P Stone and Claire E.
The authors identify challenges that face urban pastors and practices
that foster excellence in urban ministry, including cultivating holy

Christina Braudaway-Bauman

Christina Braudaway-Bauman coordinates new clergy groups and trains clergy group facilitators for the Pastoral Excellence Program in the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ. She is associate pastor at Wellesley Congregational Church.

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