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Next Generation Leadership Initiative: Target 2030

The United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA), having been richly blessed by resources given by our forebears, and having a century-old mandate to care for and work with those on the frontiers of ministry, is committed not just to the future of the Church but to the Church of the future. The Next Generation Leadership Initiative: Target 2030 (also commonly referred to as “NGLI: Target 2030,” “NGLI,” and “the Initiative”) is a 20-year focus on energizing and sustaining younger, emerging United Church of Christ local church pastors, rooted in the belief that healthy, catalytic pastors lead to healthy, vibrant congregations.

NGLI: Target 2030 seeks to honor and challenge young clergy who demonstrate significant potential, who have accepted the high calling to parish ministry, who view parish ministry as a career path, and who are willing to make a long-term commitment to service in congregational settings of the United Church of Christ.

Those selected for NGLI: Target 2030 will be provided with advanced training to hone their skills and gifts in order to serve as transformational leaders. They will also have the opportunity to create a cohort of colleagues in which they can encourage and challenge one another, as well as reflect together on the life of a local church pastor in the twenty-first century.

A significant financial incentive, valued at approximately $75,000 [1], will be provided in return for a 10-year commitment to local church ministry in the United Church of Christ and faithful participation in the NGLI program.

Transformational Leadership

A transformational leader is one who manifests the capacity to:

  • Live a faith that shows love of God, trust in Jesus, and openness to the Holy Spirit;
  • Practice self-reflection;
  • Embody a contagious faith and hopeful confidence in sharing the good news of the Gospel with believers and non-believers;
  • Develop an entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Exhibit a commitment to continuous improvement in his/her personal and professional life, welcoming feedback and integrating awareness and insights;
  • Participate in a network of mutual care and learning with colleagues;
  • Articulate a personal vision/mission/purpose statement for his/her life;
  • Engage with the congregation to develop a vision/mission/purpose statement and set of core values that will shape the congregation’s life and vocation;
  • Create an environment in which effective engagement with peoples of diverse ethnicities and cultures is encouraged;
  • Recognize dysfunction and practice self-differentiated leadership in order to avoid becoming enmeshed in dysfunctional issues and behavior;
  • Apply adaptive leadership methods--embrace experimentation, manage anxieties, learn from failures, and demonstrate resilience  in order to move into the future;
  • Synthesize solutions within the congregational context;
  • Empower teams of persons to experience trust and achieve desired outcomes;
  • Pay attention to his/her holistic health and family relationships not only for herself/himself but also within the congregation she/he is called to serve; and
  • Live out an appreciation of the United Church of Christ’s mission and its historical and cultural identity.

Building on transformational leadership methods as defined above, participants are challenged to apply their knowledge and skills in leading their local church to manifest congregational vitality through:

  •  Empowering leadership
  •  Nurturing gift-oriented ministry
  •  Cultivating passionate spirituality
  •  Having functional structures
  •  Offering inspirational worship services
  •  Supporting holistic small groups
  •  Providing need-oriented evangelism
  •  Building loving relationships

Further, the Next Generation Leadership Initiative understands its program goals and desired outcomes to be congruent with the United Church of Christ’s Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers. The Marks is a tool for discernment and assessment that seeks to expand UCC definitions of learnedness and leadership in authorized ministry and to emphasize excellence in ministerial formation. NGLI attempts to launch participants into a lifelong reflective process of ministry that is well defined through the Marks document. It's important to note that the Marks document is not a checklist or report card, in which one strives to receive a perfect grade in every category. Rather, the Marks document provides a lens for reflecting upon a person's formation, gifts and growth both before authorization and throughout one's ministry. A copy of the Marks is available at

NGLI: Target 2030 has a specific focus and is not intended to address all leadership development needs. PBUCC/UCBMA is appreciative and respectful of all the opportunities for leadership development in the many settings of the United Church of Christ and in the broader ecumenical community.


The NGLI: Target 2030 program consists of:

  • An initial, four-year core educational program that engages participants in developing transformational leadership skills and gifts:

Year One focus:
Family Systems Theory, with an emphasis on how it applies to differentiated leadership within local church settings.

Year Two focus:
Adaptive Leadership, with an emphasis on the changing context of pastoral leadership and its implication for the practice of the art of leadership.

Year Three focus:
Personal Leadership Styles, Communication Systems, and Team Building, with an emphasis on invigorating the leader/group dynamic for congregational health.

Year Four focus:
Natural Church Development, with an emphasis on applying transformational leadership qualities via the eight characteristics of a mission-based church.

  • An additional six years of advanced continuing education:
    These years will begin with a time of intentional assessment and evaluation that will lead to the creation of learning goals and a plan of action that will further develop the participant’s skills and gifts for transformational leadership.
  • Participation in two United Church of Christ General Synods, two concentrated learning visits in a congregational setting, and occasional webinars;
  • Tools to participate in an ongoing peer support network;
  • Yearly assessments to determine strengths and to develop plans for growth as a transformational leader;
  • A $10,000 contribution to the participant’s Annuity Plan account during year one to help seed the participant’s pension account, which should have a value of approximately $75,000 at the end of a 35-year career. (These figures are calculated based on an assumed growth rate of 6% per year over a 35-year period.) It will be 50% vested at the end of the fourth year and fully vested at the end of the tenth year.

United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance Support

In approving NGLI: Target 2030, the United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance understood the following goals to be essential:

The Initiative strives to be 

  • a catalyst to draw a greater number of outstanding pastors to choose local church ministry as a career path
  • committed to nurturing vibrant, faithful ministries in local churches of the United Church of Christ
  • zealous in bringing about and undergirding a church culture that is catalytic, nimble, and dynamic
  • dedicated to excellence while remaining flexible to the variables within a given local church or cultural context
  • committed to continuous improvement and growth of the Initiative

The United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA), a ministry of the Pension Boards–United Church of Christ (PBUCC), launched the Next Generation Leadership Initiative: Target 2030 at General Synod 27 in June 2009. The first class began in January 2011.

The UCBMA provides approximately $400,000 each year toward the budget of this Initiative.

[1] The sum of $75,000 represents the approximate value of a $10,000 grant invested in the Balanced Fund over a 35-year period, assuming a 6% annual earning rate. The final value will depend on the length of the participant's career prior to annuitization and the investment options chosen once the funds are transferred to their accumulation account. The value is not guaranteed.