Parish Recovery Teams

John Mark Ministries and Parish Recovery Team Training

Over recent years denominational leaders have become increasingly aware of the significant impact of clergy sexual misconduct on congregational life. Parishioners often reflect that the betrayal of trust by a Christian leader who abuses power causes particularly deep and lasting pain. Communities take time to heal following traumatic events such as these. The processes of restoration can be complicated by unresolved hurt, difficulty in trusting new leadership, crises of faith and broken relationships in the parish. It is well established that congregations benefit significantly from the support and assistance of trained consultants who can facilitate an intentional process of recovery.

Rev Les Scarborough of John Mark Ministries has had a long involvement in consulting with congregations in crisis as a result of moral failure in leadership. Over the last 15 years he has developed and refined an action – reflection training program for church consultants which includes a specialist module for those called to minister in the area of parish recovery. Tim Dyer has been consulting with congregations for 12 years and has worked widely in parish recovery over several states and denominations.  The parish recovery team training program outlined in this profile has been developed as a stand-alone consultancy training program by Tim and Les.  As Les has now retired from training and Tim Dyer is available to facilitate this training program for denominational organisations who require teams equipped for this important ministry.

Objectives of the Training Program

The Parish Recovery Team training program has 7 distinct objectives around which the training is organised. These give a general framework to the content of the course.

  • To internalise a vision for healthy parish life and the call to a ministry of healing and restoration.
  • To develop an understanding of the principles and processes of organisational intervention as a consultant to Christian churches.
  • To acquire and refine interpersonal and group skills essential in organisational consulting.
  • To understand the dynamics of organisational crisis and the the recovery of systemic health.
  • To implement a model of parish recovery with one or two parishes in an action – reflection framework over the course of the training.
  • To consult under supervision and learn from consultancy feedback.
  • To engage in personal spiritual and character formation as a consultant including the implementation of self-care and support strategies.

A more detailed outline of the training program is available from the John Mark Ministries website.

Elements of the Training Program

Parish Recovery Training is actually a specialist unit in John Mark Ministries overall church consultancy training program “Working with Faith Communities”. While it has been and can be taught in isolation from the whole program, the range of skills acquired when working with healthy situations before adapting them to recovery provides consultants with experience in all the essential components of organisational facilitation such as assessment, group skills, report writing etc, before they are applied in the more complex area of organisational recovery.

The Parish Recovery Team training unit is intentionally structured over two years of training and a further two years of supervision. Each training year includes four 1 day training workshops, each three months apart. Training is designed to prepare consultants to work with congregations as soon as possible. Action – reflection training means that participants learn practically through consulting under supervision while participating in the equipping aspects of the course parallel to actual consulting. Consultants reflect on their intervention and shape their skills through feedback.  Participants in the program are usually drawn from those with considerable life, ministry and work experience in the people helping, administrative and social service sectors.

The course itself is designed not only to equip consultants with knowledge and skills but to allow for spiritual and professional formation in the context of community. Participants work in teams of two and discuss each consultancy within the confidential training environment. Faith communities are unique organisational contexts in which to consult. While the Parish Recovery Team training program focuses on practical interpersonal and group skills, the content of the course is based on Biblical and theological reflection on restoration, community rebuilding and the healing of relationships.

Establishing a Parish Recovery Team training program

Tim is available for a limited number of training programs due to the time commitments involved. Providing there is space for a potential program through John Mark Ministries, the following outlines the requirements for a training program.

  1. The denominational authority formally approves the training strategy including the use of consultants in training for parish recovery within its jurisdiction.
  2. A covenant of ministry with John Mark Ministries for the provision of training is negotiated.
  3. The denomination approves a Policy and Procedures Manual which outlines: Parish Recovery Team practices and a code of conduct for consultants. Costs to parishes using consultants. (This normally includes out of pocket expenses for consultants: i.e. Travel, accommodation and materials. Consultants do not normally charge fees within a denominational framework.) The operating relationship between the team and denominational leadership, other internal and external consultants, the denomination’s ministry and disciplinary committees and other service providers.
    Denominational team oversight and reporting procedures.
  4. A consultancy co-ordination team established with responsibility for directing consultancy requests and appointing consultant teams in liaison with the trainer.
  5. 12 committed participants with appropriate expertise and availability to consult. These are usually both men and women, lay and clergy. Prospective consultants usually complete an expression of interest to be trained and to consult. The team is selected following interviews by the trainer and the denominational leadership.
  6. The Policy and Procedures Manual and Co-ordination Team are established as part of the training program.

Further information may be obtained from:
John Mark Ministries