Professional Development and the Value of GCFA Staff

Professional Development

As the Chief Officer of Human Resources and Professional Development, I have the privilege to do what I love. Every. Day. At the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), we place a priority on professional development. In 2016, one of the goals for the agency was for every employee to participate in a minimum of one professional development opportunity.

Professional Development

Although we tend to focus on development solely as training, it is important to acknowledge that there are many forms of development that help us identify an individual’s development needs. And when this is done well, we are developing one of the church’s blessings…the people who serve the Church through their work with general agencies.

Performance management tools are fundamental to staff development. They can provide managers and Human Resources Professionals with knowledge of the areas individuals need to develop and grow.

In my experiences, it is helpful to use a mixture of methods to ensure successful professional development:

  • Training
  • On-the-job learning
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring

Having a structured training and development program provides needed consistency for employees. At GCFA, are in the process of fine-tuning the New Hire Orientation and Onboarding experience to ensure employees have a consistent experience. When employees enter an organization knowing the expectations, it sets them up for success. Providing them with the policy and procedural information up front is essential. However, it cannot stop there. Ensuring continuous learning throughout an employee’s tenure allows for continued engagement and growth of the individual.


Professional development offers many positives for the agency, the Church, and the individual. Investing the time to train your staff shows that you value them. You also allow for development opportunities that employees may not have sought out for themselves. This encourages them to continuously learn and grow. It also ensures that employees are confident in the job they have been assigned to do. When we focus on training and development, we provide the employees with the tools to be successful on the job to grow as individuals, showing them that they are appreciated, and positively impact their work for the Church.

In 2016, GCFA reached its goal of ensuring each staff member received professional development training. The majority of our staff received 2 or more training events. Management was trained in the process of Performance Reviews and were encouraged to set additional professional development goals for 2017.

We Are Still Learning

Although we are still in progress to fine tuning our training and development program, I am confident that our staff and managers are dedicate to continuous learning. In the summer of 2016, Cheryl Akey, Travel and Meeting Planning Manager at GCFA, received her Certified Meeting Planner certification. Knowing the value it added to her job, she encouraged an employee in the department to receive her certification. In January of 2017, she did it! Cheryl said, “The qualifications for certification includes education, experience and a rigorous exam.  There are approximately 11,000 meeting planners around the globe that have a CMP designation. It is considered the badge of excellence in the meeting and event industry.” There are now three CMP’s on staff at GCFA serving the Church as dedicated professionals! It is the dedication of managers like Cheryl that help organizations achieve their Professional Development goals.

Thank you,

Caitlin Congdon

“My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly.”

James 3:1 (CEB)

Meditation Monday: Growing Pains

In order for a lobster to grow it must first rid itself of its shell. The shell does not grow but is rigid for the protection of the soft crustacean inside.

Growing Pains

As a lobster grows it begins to feel the growing pains of the too small shell it has. Pressure builds up as its body pushes against the old shell. It finds some rocks to hide in. Soon enough, it breaks out of its old shell with a new one already intact.

Just like the lobster, we sometimes have to push through growing pains in order to get rid of the old as we grow. God provides for new “protection” but we must recognize that we need to grow out of where we have been in order to get to where we need to go. The “stress” the lobster feels as it grows against it new shell is a sign to it that it needs to begin the molting process.

As the lobster sheds its old shell it recycles the minerals within it to build the new shell. It continually builds upon what has come before into what is to come.

“No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes; otherwise, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and makes a worse tear. No one pours new wine into old leather wineskins; otherwise, the wine would burst the wineskins and the wine would be lost and the wineskins destroyed. But new wine is for new wineskins.” Mark 2:21-22 (CEB)

Dear God, help your church to shed its old shell as it matures and grows. Like the lobster, let us build on what we had in order to get what we need to proclaim and do your love in the world you have set us in. Amen.

Meditation Monday: Dream Big

Dream Big

Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us. Ephesians 3:20 (CEB)

Dream Big

We hear so much about declining membership rolls, shrinking budgets and older properties. It is at these times that we cannot get caught up in just “managing the demise” of our Church!

Now is the time for us to dream big…bigger than ever! It is time to think outside the box. It is time to hear all of God’s ideas, no matter how unusual, unorthodox, wide ranging or costly. As the writer of Ephesians reminds us, God can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. With God’s blessing our Church need not disappear by the year 2025 or 2030 or at all.

We must not think about it is as bringing God to the people but instead we need to join God where God is already present in the world. God is changing lives. Whether we are a part of that or not as The United Methodist Church is up to us and how big we can dream and truly dare to imagine the ways we can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

God, show us where You are already working in this world. Show us how we can dream as big as You do! Help us to not get caught up in the fear but to remain positive in Your presence. Let us be more like Caleb and Joshua. Amen.