Sheer genius: from printed book to online tool

Sheared genius: Lauren Miers and her husband, Sam, after the accident that gave Lauren the power to bend the Brick River app to her will and convinced Sam to take up a pipe.


WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU READ a truly inspirational book? Oh wait, you work for the Church. What we mean is, when was the last time you read a book that was so inspirational you wanted to turn it into an online tool that could enhance the relationship between pastors and their flocks?

That happened recently in the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Lauren Miers, the conference’s senior communication specialist, got a call from the Rev. Curtis Olsen, in the Mid-State District. The district higher-ups were excited about a book called Spiritual Leadership, by Thomas G. Bandy — an exploration of how different styles of leadership attract different types of followers. The district was especially impressed by the author’s Leadership Inventory, a questionnaire for identifying ministers’ individual leadership styles. Would it be possible, Curtis wanted to know, for Lauren to digitize and automate the process of administering the questionnaire so it could be used for leadership development?

Short answer: Yes! Long answer: “I modeled the process after our existing Conference Nominations process, which requires references. Redirects to hidden web pages prompt scripts to send automated emails guiding participants and references through the process. That same script tabulates their results. Each response is given a number weight and uses simple addition to calculate scores.”

The assessment, currently in pilot testing, will let pastors go online and rate themselves from 1 to 10 on dozens of statements, such as

  • “I am adept at helping seekers know more about themselves, others, and God.”
  • “I like to facilitate meetings and gatherings, work in committees or task groups.”
  • “I prefer to work one-on-one with people, especially people in times of need.”
To keep them honest (hey, it's just a figure of speech), three of their close associates will also evaluate them with the same questionnaire. Using the views Lauren created in Brick River, Curtis will merge the results into an easy-to-read document that will aid pastors during leadership training.

“By automating the process,” Lauren says, “we’re cutting down on the exchange of paper and potentially numerous follow-ups. Could you imagine having to hunt down scans or paper copies of the hand-filled assessments and then tabulate the results?”

Not a pretty picture. You go, all you creative Brick River users with your ingenious ideas! The world needs you.