LifeTogether seeks to raise up a generation of prayerful and prophetic leaders
In August 2009, Life Together launched a new leadership training and spiritual formation program. In addition to the 32 hours/week that interns spend in service at their site placements, all fellows spend 8 hours/week together for spiritual formation and servant leadership development.
Training takes place on most Fridays between September and June of the fellow year. Training is intended to complement the experiential learning Fellows engage in through their work at their site placements. Through training fellows learn and practice skills that will both deepen their faith and prepare them for life-long work for justice in both their professional and personal lives. The fellowship year begins with an intensive two-week orientation, which is followed by monthly leadership trainings on the third Friday of each month. On the other three Fridays a month, fellows meet in their houses with two prayers partners, who serve as outside facilitators and who lead community building practices and spiritual practices. The formal training program will also be built upon as fellows learn from and are formed by their life in Christian Community, individual practices of prayer and reflection (including a Rule of Life), meeting regularly with a personal Spiritual Mentor, community meals, and occasional gatherings with the brothers of The Society of St. John the Evangelist. The curriculum will focus on developing the skills, practices, knowledge, and dispositions related to:
- Servant Leadership
- Vocational Training
- Public Narrative and Community Organizing
- Mission and Evangelism
Life Together has built a network of highly experienced organizers, social change leaders and church leaders who facilitate trainings at key points during the year. Master Teachers from 2011-2012 include:
- Rt Rev. M. Thomas Shaw Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
- Phyllis Tickle—renowned author, theologian, and speaker on topics related to “Emergence Christianity” and history of Christianity
- Rev. Stephanie Spellers—author of Radical Welcome and founder of The Crossing, an emergent-Episcopal church community
- Rev. John deBeer—Rector, St. Mark’s Burlington, Co-Founder, KLESIS Curriculum
- Ella Auchincloss—Director of Training, Organizing for Health and Founder, The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI)
- Rev. Steven Bonsey—Canon Pastor, Cathedral Church of St. Paul and Co-Founder, The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI)
- Courtney Cowart—Director of Congregational Learning, Fund for Theological Education and author of An American Awakening
- Rev. Jep Streit—Dean, Cathedral Church of St. Paul
These sessions are the heart of Life Together’s leadership training and formation program. Each monthly training is a mix of both prayerful and prophetic practices—a combination of contemplative spiritual practices, time for community building, and skill-based leadership training. Fellows learn about the intersection between personal and social transformation. In addition, they provide a space for fellows to discuss their work and provide and receive support on specific issues.
Typical Monthly Friday Training:
- 8:45: Arrive and get settled
- 9:00: Worship with wider Life Together community
- 9:45: Coffee, tea, and conversation with program partners
- 10:00: Community check-in with staff and fellows
- 11:00: Teaching on contemplative practice
- 12:00: Lunch
- 1:00: Contemplative practice continued—small groups and teamwork
- 2:15: Break
- 2:30: Prophetic Leadership Practice Teaching
- 3:30: Small group breakouts and teamwork
- 4:30: Evaluation and Closing Prayer
Our primary partners in this work have been Leading Change and Marshall Ganz (for public narrative and community organizing), The Servant Leadership School in Greensboro, NC (in creating a framework for how to think about Christianity as a way of life—“The Jesus Way”), John deBeer and the KLESIS Curriculum (for vocational discernment, community, and group process), and The Fund for Theological Education (for discernment, community, and spiritual practice). Additionally, our sister organization is The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI). Life Together and LDI work closely together and continue to build networks of coaches, leadership trainers, and faith-based social-change leaders.
In addition to attending training on Fridays, fellows share responsibility for the ongoing recruitment of future fellows and for fundraising. We believe the arts of recruitment and fundraising are critical skills in ministry and social change work that all of our fellows must learn. This learning happens primarily through a project called “The Life Together Challenge.” This is a form of team-based fundraising and a collaborative campaign to raise $25,000 during the year. Each staff member and fellow is responsible for $1,000, or each team is responsible for $5,000. This money raised goes to help pay the stipends and health insurance for the next class of fellows.
Commitment to ongoing evaluation is a core value for Life Together, and a critical part of how we create a culture of both gratitude and learning. Some of the forms that our evaluation takes include:
- A base-line survey during Orientation, extensive mid-year evaluation with each Fellow, his/her supervisors and Fellowship Director, and end of year evaluation including a survey and individual exit interviews with the Fellowship Director.
- In-person evaluations at the end of each training session to help collect key learnings, and to determine what worked well and how to make the learning experience even better next time.