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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Listening to God

Too many congregations seem more interested in their programs than in asking what God is doing in their midst, says Joann Nesser, an associate in ministry who founded and directs the Christos Center for Spiritual Formation, Lino Lakes, Minn.

That insight and concern for leaders' spiritual lives moved her, retired ELCA pastor Richard Beckmen and others at Christos to create Listening for God: Spiritual Formation for Clergy and Congregational Renewal.

The two-year program initially gathered 11 people from seven denominations twice a month at the Christos Center. An extension program is also available.

Participants learn new ways of prayer and meditation, historical Christian practices of discernment, the nature of personal spiritual growth and the stages of congregational growth. The focus is on the spiritual formation of leaders who can introduce congregational change. "This isn't a canned program," Nesser says. "We give tools for listening and responding to God [that] people can use in their congregations."

Tuition is $3,000. Lay leaders attend free with their pastors. Contact Christos at (651) 653-8207; www.christoscenter.org.

Resource: Transforming Church Boards into Communities of Spiritual Leaders by Charles M. Olson (Alban, 1995). Available from Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, (800) 328-4648; www.augsburgfortress.org.


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