I originally made this post two and half years ago. The input of the Lead Academy remains one of the most influential learning experiences of my time in ministry. Several churches of my friends have undertaken or are involved with Lead Academy now and gaining so much from that. With several of the Vineyard Churches in London and the South East now involved with Lead Academy I thought I'd repost this original review I made.
My wife Bev and I just spent two days with the Lead Academy, with leaders from 6 different churches wanting to develop their churches. I tweeted through out the 2 days about the content with #leadacademy.
It’s one of the best things I have been to for a very long time. If you are looking for a learning community to develop yourself, your leaders and church, join one.
Here are for me, 10 ingredients that made it so rewarding, stimulating and helpful:
1. Format: Fast paced, interactive, creative, and well timed. Each session and each day whizzed by. I engage so much in learning environments with my own research that I am easily bored. It’s a long time since I was engaged in a learning process that moved at such a stimulating, and captivating pace that held my attention so fully.
2. Stimulating Content: Superb input from great presenters (Nick Cuthbert, Chris Stoddard, Jim Gallagher, Krish Kandiah) in a variety of formats, all short, clear, provocative, and relevant. A particular highlight was the presentation and Q&A with Steve Fenning from Forge Community Church, via Skype video.
3. Peer led: The quality of discussion and interactions with peers, around activities, was again fantastic. The participants became a huge resource for the 2 days as a real learning community, sharing ideas and coaching each other.
4. Reflective: There were times, after input and peer coaching, to pause and reflect and produce reflections about our own contexts. All other factors I have mentioned meant that these were rich times, with detailed outputs and ideas.
5. Coaching: We got to share our learning reflections/outputs with the other groups to ‘think out loud’. Then there was peer coaching around this with those groups and coaching from the presenters. All of which honed those reflections and learnings.
6. Action & Accountability: Ww completed and shared an action plan as the last activity, that others will review with us in 6 months time. This was very was exciting. Next time we meet we will ask each other, did you do it, what happened and how did it go, what did you learn and what is next as a result?
7. Hope & Vision: We left having recaptured a love for and sense of all that is so exciting about our church. And we left with a new sense of all our church could become and do over the next few years, with a plan to progress that with them.
8. Affordable: The daily cost per delegate are so good, and are amazing value for money.
9. Pastoral: Times for prayer, meditations and praying for each other, anchored the learning around faith. And for me stopped the inflation of vision into fantasy and disconnection from church and mission.
10. Connecting: And now I have a whole bunch peers and people to share, reflect, interact with and learn from.
(you can view photos of our mind maps, executions plans and key learnings here)