A FORUM LIKE THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A LIFESAVER WHEN I WAS LEADING A CHURCH!
That was my reaction as I sat in one of Mike’s business leaders’ forums for the first time. The level of trust in the room. The quality of the relationships. The concern to help each other excel in their different businesses and markets. No competition. Complete confidentiality. Disarming honesty. And none of them active Christians that I’m aware of. One of Mike’s favourite dictums is
IT NEEDN’T BE LONELY AT THE TOP.
And these men and women experience that. They pay a handsome sum to be part of the Executive Foundation ( www.executive-foundation.com ), for which they get a stimulating whole day forum, with a gifted speaker and plenty of time for helping each other with their immediate pressing issues. They also get 2 hours of Mike’s time each month for 1 on 1 mentoring.
I asked one of the younger members over lunch why he invested in his own development as a leader in this way – a whole day a month is a big time commitment. His answer was twofold and delightfully straight – “Life is moving so fast, I need to be a step ahead of the competition; and our generation doesn’t have the time or the luxury to make the mistakes that yours made!”
Though the speakers are first rate, it is the afternoon confidential forum that brings the members back month after month. Here they can raise issues that they can probably share nowhere else (a real parallel with church leaders). Within Mike’s carefully crafted structure, issue after issue is raised, honed by a time of questioning and then addressed with straightforward advice from 10 to 12 peers, from different businesses but with very similar issues and experiences. The resulting input is priceless.
Having left active church leadership a year or so ago, I was looking to get involved in investing in the next generation of church leaders. For them too, life is moving very fast and they are often eager to learn from and be mentored by some of us who have 30 or more years of ministry experience, so they don’t make the mistakes we made!
My problem was that I didn’t have a model or much of an idea of where to start. I went on LinkedIn and got a few enquiries; but when I saw Mike’s model in action, I knew “We need to start the clergy equivalent!" Fortunately Mike is a very committed believer, with a brother who is a pastor. He had long wanted to see something similar in the clergy/ministry sphere but knew that he didn’t have the hands on experience of our leadership challenges.
So we are launching the Clergy Foundation together (www.clergy-foundation.com), planning to start our first forum this autumn. The forums will be based at our Retreat House, just 5 mins from Jct 17 of the M4, near Chippenham (www.thevine-at-maysfarm.com ). We are assuming that people will be willing to travel for an hour to an hour and a half to be part of something like this; but we won’t turn anyone away! We hope to be interdenominational and we welcome both men and women who are leading churches. We will also be starting a forum for associates or ministry leaders (eg Youth or Worship) in 2015.
Our vision is:
TO SEE WELL-LED CHURCHES CHANGE OUR NATION
You can be part of this in one of two ways:
· If you are a church leader who is looking to be part of a stimulating cohort of like-minded leaders, then do enquire about coming to a dinner we will be holding on 10th July. Mike and I will explain the vision, how this might help you grow as the leader you long to be and how we can help you make it possible financially.
· If you are a business or professional leader in another sphere but would like to help clergy and pastors to get the quality of support that you benefit from in the secular world, then you could consider being a patron of the Clergy Foundation and help us to launch this venture. We will need around £25K to get this idea off the ground until it is self-supporting. You would also be very welcome to come and hear about the vision at the dinner on 10th July. (www.clergy-foundation.com/who_we_are/patrons/)
For more details about the Clergy Foundation, please visit www.clergy-foundation.com
For more details about Mike Wilsher and the Executive Foundation, the website is www.executive-foundation.com