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Chris Yaw Interviews Susan Kendall on Listening Leaders

June 02, 2012

Taken with permission from

It's the most important aspect of church leadership today, says Pittsburgh Theological Seminary's Susan Kendall: listening.

As a graduate school instructor she sees listening, in its three aspects of congregation, context, and God, as standard equipment for today's effective leaders.

Susan also has a passion for Reformed Christian Spiritual Formation, which cuts to the core of what leading congregations is about.




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A Doctor of Ministry degree used to be seen as a way to move up in the church world. Today it's a place to incubate and experiment with ideas - a much-needed activity in today's context. There are 120-150 DMin students at PTS, and 350 students total. Here are my notes from the interview:

Church Planting Overtaking Church Redevelopment?
Maybe not right now, but there certainly are gains in interest, and now classwork, as mainline congregations move through transition not just closing churches, but opening them.

It's All About Listening
Susan calls it the heart of pastoral ministry - asking the right questions to evoke the right response - then paying attention. How well do we do that with our congregations?

The Challenge to Let God
It's what we need the courage and faith to do. Perhaps it's God's biggest challenge for the Church today - how well are we doing with this?

About Susan Kendall
Susan Kendall is a member of the faculty of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.   Her primary work is as Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, a professional academic degree, which is a national program in Pittsburgh, with sites in Phoenix, Arizona, Eckerd College, St Petersburg, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, and a partnership with the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.  She has lived in Pittsburgh for seven years and is completing a book titled,Hunting for Jesus in Pittsburgh, which is both a personal memoir and a reflection on the intersection and intricacies of faith and everyday life.   The primary question of the book is how to stay alive, considering that in asking the question one is able to courageously explore primary themes across religious boundaries and discover an un-thought way through interrogating the boundaries of the Christianity.  Kendall's research interests include theology and culture, an unparalleled priority in cultivating a renewed commitment of the status of women in the world with particular emphasis on the study of religion as both an impediment and source for the ongoing work to bring about true equality.   She teaches postmodern thought and critical studies, introductory seminars on feminism, its history and change, and volunteers as a writing and editing tutor. She is ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and holds a PhD from Claremont Graduate University.

Books Susan Recommends
The Active Life - Parker Palmer
The Redemptive Self - Dan McAdams

Sponsors I Mentioned
Are you headed to the Wild Goose festival? Thousands of campers are headed to the beautiful hills of North Carolina June 21-24. Wild Goose is a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality, and art. Some of this year's guests are Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and Shane Claiborne. ChurchNext is a proud sponsor - find out more



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