A Year in Cohort Delta

A Year in Cohort Delta

When I spoke to with the chair of our presbytery’s Ministry Committee, he told me that I have two gold stars by my name.

One is because our presbytery is committed to raising up women in leadership, and I happen to be a woman. The second is because I am under the care of Chapel Hill. In his words, Chapel Hill is a “leadership factory.” And he is right.

When you look at the number and caliber of people we have sent out to the Global Church, you can tell that we are committed to churning out great leaders. This doesn’t happen by accident. Our leadership team is intentional when it comes to training and development. Some of this development comes by allowing us to actually lead while we train. But a lot of our leadership development comes by way of a yearlong, weekly cohort with Pastor Mark and one of our stellar elders, Rosemary Lukens.

Last year, I was a part of Cohort Delta along with Ryan Palmer and Michael Bouterse. Each of us were in a different stage of our journey. Ryan was under care of session and had some seminary under his belt. Michael was discerning where the Lord was leading him after his time at Oxford. I was just starting seminary and was pretty fresh in the process.

Each week, we would gather on Tuesday mornings for an hour and a half of intentional leadership development. Through our cohort meetings, we worked through things that are often overlooked in a typical theological education.

While our degrees train us to know about the Bible, the church, and ministry; they don’t necessarily train us to be in day-to-day ministry. Cohort walked us through things like boundaries for leaders, finances for both the church and a person on a ministry salary, caring for our families, or preparing for the unexpected, difficult, and joyful parts of leading.

We started the time checking in on where we were in our process. We would answer questions about school (I was in Greek most of last year. . . I needed encouragement), life balance, and any new developments in our process. Then we would recite the scripture memorization we had worked on the previous week and one of the cohort would lead a devotional reflection on the passage.

We walked away from the year with a catalog of memory work that will be useful in ministry and life. I was always so grateful to hear my fellow mentees share what they noticed about our memory work. It was such a great reminder of the richness of scripture.

The bulk of our time was spent discussing our monthly module. Rosemary had us read several books throughout the year. Pastor Mark would bring reflections from his years of ministry. Some weeks the discussion would be very practical, like basics of sermon prep. Some weeks the discussion would be very helpful, like how to guard your heart and mind against distraction or temptation.

Some weeks we’d have guests from throughout our denomination. We got to hear Jeff Jeremiah, the leader of the EPC, discuss the state of our denomination and his hopes for the next decade. We got to help Scott Griffin, the moderator of our denomination and member of Chapel Hill, prepare for his General Assembly message on generations within the church. We met with small church pastors, large church pastors, church planters, and marriage mentors. And in the end, we walked away from the year better prepared for where the Lord is leading each of us.

I have to admit, I’m always a little jealous to see Madison and Gunnar walking down the hall to this year’s cohort. I miss the weekly fellowship with my fellow mentees. I loved the discussion, the memory work, and the chance to learn from such great leader in our denomination. It’s also very rare for young leaders in a church of our size to get such a significant amount of time with their senior pastor. Pastor Mark reflects our value of sending leaders through the amount of time he dedicates to mentoring and preparing future pastors.

So, I say a very sincere “thank you” to our church for the further commitment to send leaders through the Beyond These Walls initiatives. We will never fully know the impact our church has had on the Global Church on this side of eternity.