Leadership Development: An Alzheimer’s Parable

A friend was talking with the Director of an Alzheimer’s unit. She told him this story.

One of our residents spent the better part of each day walking the halls, crying, and saying over and over again, “I’m looking for the bus stop.” The continued searching for the bus stop became a behavioral issue that disturbed other residents; consequently, it had to be addressed by my staff. We discussed various options. Someone suggested increasing this person’s medication.

I took a different approach. I made a Bus Stop sign and put it on a pole next to a bench in the hallway. Upon discovering the “Bus Stop,” the resident stopped roaming the halls and settled, quietly, on the bench. At appropriate times she would participate in planned activities, go to meals in the dining room, and, when she needed to, she would peacefully sit on the bench at her “Bus Stop.”

This is a story about contextualization.  In ministry, to contextualize is to shape the ways of doing ministry and the presentation of the message to the cultural and sociological context and needs of the target audience.

Contextualization can be thought of as one of the basics of the Christmas message. It is God with us, Immanuel. God in street clothes. And, from beginning to end, the story is rich with social realities: an inn, shepherds, wise men, taxation, traveling, and family heritage.

Church Leadership Center takes a contextualized approach to leadership development. We work with individuals who are called to ministry while remaining in their communities, churches, and places of employment. Facilitators are pastors who are in the field. Mentors are most frequently the pastors of the participants’ churches. CLC participants have found their “bus stops,” and it is our privilege to sit on their benches alongside them.

Church Leadership Center serves churches and other ministry groups to prepare leaders for advanced levels of ministry responsibility within their own contexts. We do this by means of assessment interviews and reports; personalized training plans, classes, and certification so that participants are able to increase their effectiveness in all areas of church life. Click here for more information from our web site and to read previous blogs.