This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday means, its time for the links.  As always the case, I entrust to you different things I have read or found in the past week for your reading, thinking, and reflecting pleasure.  This week’s categories are:  Church and Ministry Thought and Leadership; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought, Practice and Theory; Neighbor Love; and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reads.

Church and Ministry Thought and Leadership

Pastor Keith Anderson offers a good and helpful starting place for helping engage and equip the youth of the church to be “digital disciples.”

You might have noticed recently a series of posts on what it means for the church to be welcoming, etc., on this blog.  Here is another post that was shared by a friend that might inform an upcoming post in this blog’s series on what it means for the church to be welcoming, seeking, inclusive, etc.

I have mentioned Humble Walk Lutheran Church before. Today I want to share with you information about their new music album which I entrust to you as proof that the church is finding a way to sing about the goodness and stories of God in new and meaningful ways.

Here is a great reflection on “what does it mean to be church together?” What do you think? Thoughts and comments on this might be used to help craft a new blog post, so I would love to hear your perspectives.

Here is a helpful reminder about “meaning it” by Tripp Hudgins.  If you are going to be a church, “mean what you say, and say what you mean.” A new building, the latest shining glitter, etc., is not going to attract anyone to your church (or at the very least engage them).  It is the actual work and ministry that will grow them as participants in the body of Christ, and welcome them, support them, and engage them for the long term.

If you are a Lutheran, or at least have an appreciation of Christian (and particularly Lutheran) theology here is a helpful summary of the thoughts, theology, and implications of Gerhard Forde.

David Lose is helping celebrate and remember the Reformation fittingly this week on his blog with a special series.  Here is the first post in this week’s series.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

If you follow this blog regularly then you have already seen this TED Talk by Michael Porter.  If you haven’t, please do check it out. If you want to read my summary of the talk, you can find that here.

Leadership Thought, Practice, and Theory

You have seen recently a little more about how I am a sports fan.  I only mention this on this blog though when my sports interests align somewhat with this blog’s topics.  This past week Larry Stone of the Seattle Times offered a great look and remembrance of two of Washington’s greatest football coaches who were fantastic leaders in their own rights- Frosty Westering (at Pacific Lutheran University) and Don James (at the University of Washington). I entrust it to you for your reading pleasure.

Ben Lichtenwalner makes the case for why now is the time for servant leadership.  What do you think? As for me, I couldn’t agree more.

Shawn Murphy explores the “Irrelevance of Profit-Driven Leadership.” He concludes that “purpose and believing in people’s ability to do great work is what is needed in today’s workplace and business environment.” To this I say, Amen!

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs?  I am assuming you probably have. So I offer this to you from Geek in Heels as a way to hopefully offer some light hearted fun in the midst of your work week as you compare your personality to some of the big characters in Star Wars.

Have you ever wanted or needed some extra steps to feel more confident in your leadership? Here are 10 Steps from Becky Blalock.

Neighbor Love

Last week Jim Wallis penned this blog post on “The most controversial sentence” he ever wrote. It has received a great amount of traction lately, and so I offer it here just in case you haven’t seen or read it yet.  It’s an important read for reflection.

Have you ever thought about congregational based organizing? If not, this might be a good read from The Lutheran especially in thinking about what it means to be the church and to do its work in the world.

I have provided links regarding Malaria a few times in the past month.  This article by Sonia Shah comes from Foreign Affairs, and it asks an important question, “why does malaria persist?”

Did you know that there have been 17 school shootings in the past year?  Victoria Starr offers an important reflection and pause about this.  How do we respond? What are we called to do in light of this?

If you are in a congregational setting, with November beginning at the end of this week, it is high time for planning Advent and even Christmas practices in a congregation.  Here’s a golden nugget from two years ago that might give some room for ideas and imagination around supporting the neighbor during this time of year, but also to do so from a helpful stewardship perspective.

Last week I included a post by my friend Hannah in the links. This week I am going to share two.  She is starting a series on her blog about why women need to do theology. I couldn’t agree more.  Here is the introductory piece of the series. Here is the second piece.

I had the pleasure of seeing Brian McLaren in person this past month as part of a panel discussing the future of the church.  Here he shares a paper by Giles Parker meant for discussion pondering the question “Can you hold a Biblical View in support of homosexuality and gay marriage?”  What do you think?

You may not know it, but the Red Cross is turning 150 years old.  In remembrance and celebration, here is a set of pictures chronicling that history of humanitarian action from The Guardian

Part of showing love to our neighbor, is to acknowledge them for who they are without ignoring their self-claimed identity.  One of these identities is one’s faith or religious view/understanding(s) (or absence of).  Paul Brandeis Raushenbush offers an important reflection given news and celebratory interactions in the past couple of weeks.

Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reads

If you are a history buff, or like any story that has to do with airplanes and airports, check out this story.

One of my favorite shows of all time was Chuck. I know it was nerdy, only lasted five seasons, and was kind of a mix of comedy and spy show, but it was really the first show my wife and I fell in love with together.  So, it holds a special place in my heart.  Here is a story about how Zachary Levi, the actor who played Chuck, is also really a nerd in real life.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s links.  If you have questions, or comments please share in the conversation. Also, if there are subjects of interest you would like to see included in the links, please just let me know. Have a blessed week!

This Year’s Reformation

Tomorrow the Lutheran Church observes Reformation Sunday, the only date on the church calendar year really unique to Lutherans. October 31 is the anniversary of Martin Luther posting his ninety-five theses for debate concerning the sale of indulgences.  Martin_Luther_by_Lucas_Cranach_der_ÄltereHe nailed his proposal to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on the Eve of All Saints Day knowing that in the morning, people coming to worship could read his ideas.  In the tradition of St. Augustine before him, Luther’s intent was to spur debate for the purpose of bringing the church back to its true roots – scripture, faith, and grace.  As time and debate progressed, it became clear that Luther and his followers would be forced to begin their own denomination, and there have been “Lutherans” for the last 450+ years.  Congregations observe the day with the color of red for the fire of the Holy Spirit and the reforming power of the Spirit in our lives.  Red is also the general church color of martyrs and reformers.

I begin with that background about Reformation, because I believe just as there was a beginning of a formal reformation about 500 years ago, the church is always forming and reforming.  This can be in the large scale changes of churches and congregations coming to new insights and understandings about God, and what it means to be living into being the people of God’s and God’s co-creators. This can also be on the more local and individual scale, where people discern for themselves its time to change or that God might be leading them to a new expression of ministry and service.

I write today with the latter in mind.  My mother will be concluding her current role in a Lutheran congregation as the worship band leader, hand bell choirs director, and youth choir director at the end of this month.  The congregation she has served faithfully in this most recent role (which has also included time as fill-in accompanist; adult choir accompanist; and Sunday School music/worship leader and Christmas program writer and director among many other things) will be celebrating her with a wonderful lunch tomorrow.  I am sad that I will not be able to be there in person to support her and celebrate her. But I believe my mom knows how proud I am of her.  In a lot of ways, my passion for congregational life and leadership comes from her.  I have seen how much love she has for the people she has served and served alongside all these years. I have also seen and sensed that it’s time to discern what God might be calling her towards next.

You see, she has been serving in this current congregation since the mid-1990s. But, she has been on staff in a congregation now about 40 years. She started serving and leading church choirs and groups when she was in high school, continued while in college, served on staff in a different congregation after college where she met my Dad for the first time, and then when moving half way across the country was at one point the Director of Education for a very large Midwest congregation.  Ultimately they returned west, and she served on staff in a couple congregations in roles and leadership around worship and music.  She was really an Associate in Ministry before congregations even knew what that meant.  Over time church practice and policy has changed, and many people of her generation have lost that official title simply because the larger church has not quite figured out how to best equip, roster, and sustain people with ministry calls other than that of Word and Sacrament. She has seen the challenges of this, but they have not overcome her.  She has instead pushed on trusting that she has purpose, and knowing she was created to show the love of God to people in her own unique ways.

I have my hunches as to what might be next for Mom. But today, I give thanks for her and to her.  Mom, you are a real leader.  You are a real servant and child of God.  As you go through this reformation time, I know that you will be excited about what is next. And I look forward to being a part of that journey as your son, from near or far.

For those of you in church leadership, or actively involved in a congregation, what kind of forming and reforming is your congregation going through now?  What kind of little reformation are you a part of, or might possibly become a part of?

Reflection on “Why Business Can Be Good at Solving Social Problems”

If you have seen my previous post, I provided a video of a TED Talk given this past summer by Michael Porter.  In this post I want to provide a deeper set of thoughts, summary, and responses that I have as I reflect on the implications of Porter’s claims, hopes, and ideas.

globePorter begins by acknowledging the seemingly continual reality of there being “problem after problem.”  The difference now perhaps more than at any other age in history, is that we are all very aware of these problems. (Those that claim that they aren’t problems, I would argue are just in denial at this point.)  Porter accepts the problems, but raises the question I have often wondered, “why are we so struggling with all of these problems?” Simply put, why do we have all of these social problems?

Business (or as a sector, the for-profit sector) is now largely seen as the problem.  Because of the work of many- sweat shops, pollution, unhealthy food, unfair and unsafe labor practices, fraud towards employees, etc., there are many reasons why business has rightfully earned a bad name.  In response to this, and in the face of the reality of the rising social problems, the past 10-15 years has seen the ballooning of the social sector.  There has been a tremendous rise of NGOs and social organizations.  Solutions to the societal problems have been largely believed to be coming from some combination of the work of NGOs, governments, and philanthropy.  These areas, and the rise of the social sector in general has resulted from and in an enormous amount of energy, innovation, and talent which Porter readily acknowledges.

The issue isn’t a lack of awareness of the problems.  As Porter says, we have been aware of many of these problems now for decades.  The reality is though, that despite our best efforts and what we have done so far, “we’re not winning.”  “We are not making fast enough progress, we are just making incremental progress.”  This is so true.  Why else, for example, can we still be fighting malaria, when the last documented case in the United States was in the 1950s? We know how to defeat the disease, so why isn’t the disease defeated globally, like on the continent of Africa?

Porter moves into economics for some of his unpacking of the reasons for the continued problems.  The largest problem has everything to do with scale as he sees it.  He argues, “We can’t make a large scale impact on these problems because in the current models, we don’t have enough resources.”  This scarcity of resources is only growing in light of down economies, fiscal challenges, and fiscal uncertainty (for example- if the US defaulted on its loans, resources would become all the more scarce within all sectors).

Perhaps where Porter might enter the most confrontational area is when it comes to his view on the resource location and allocation.  He argues (and I believe accurately) that resources in society are in business by and large.  From the economics of it, “business creates wealth when it meets needs at a profit.” Its really an Econ 101 idea when you get down to it.  Because when businesses create wealth by meeting societal needs, tax revenue is generated, income is generated, and there is more money and resources which can be charitably donated.  As Porter goes onto claim, profit is where there is the magic to allow a solution to these societal problems that is scaleable.  [For reference he provides a pie chart which shows in terms of resources, there are $20.1 Trillion available among corporations; whereas there are only $1.2 Trillion available to NGOs/non-profits; and $3.1 Trillion from governments.]

Now because Porter recognizes what the conventional economic defense for business to not be involved in this is that there is a “trade-off” he hits this claim back, and he hits it hard.  He argues that there is in fact NO trade-off between social and economic progress.  He goes so far as to say that “business does not profit from causing social problems.”  Rather, as he sees it, “business PROFITS from solving social problems.” (For example, with a safer work environment or healthy employees a company has higher profitability and economic efficiency.)

As a proponent of cross-sector collaboration, and a current team member of a for-profit start-up around helping solve a societal issue (unemployment and underemployment) this gives me reassurance.  It also in a way vindicates me that at least in theory I am:  1) not crazy; and 2) among many other people in the field who think this is not only possible but perhaps the best and only possible meaningful long-term approach to affect positive social change in ways that are large and scaleable. The group which I am a part of is also one such example of what Porter is talking about when he says that there are corporations who are doing this very thing which he is advocating, in facing societal problems.

When you get down to the main argument, I believe Porter is claiming that “corporations profit from doing good.”  This is a fundamental opportunity for businesses to impact and address these problems, but also more broadly the greatest economic and business opportunity perhaps have the current century.  If you want an equation, a business that gets this and wants to grow in response to this opportunity, it will be creating shared value.  Where, as Porter equates:

Shared Value = Societal Value + Economic Value.

Obviously, all of this is easier said then done. Making such a shift in understanding will take time.  But as we can overcome an idea that social problems aren’t just “externalities” as has been traditionally assumed in economic thought, and move them to be identified more as “opportunities,” we can change how businesses see themselves but also how others see business.  When there is shared value in business, there is a potential for true collaboration between businesses, government opportunities, and social innovators who have been doing great things in NGOs with far less resources than are available through businesses.

What Porter offers, he believes and hopes is a path to success.  I share his hope and optimism.  I admit, it’s not an easy shift for society and culture to make. But, in looking at the rise of social responsibility, and social entrepreneurship across the board, the shift is already happening.  What do you think? Do you agree with Porter?  Do you disagree?  If Porter is on to something, what societal problem would you like to see addressed by corporations and how might a corporation address that problem(s)?

“Why Business Can be Good at Solving Social Problems”

I am an advocate for cross-sector collaboration.  In this TED Talk, Michael Porter makes the case for “Why Business Can Be Good at Solving Social Problems.”  I for one, agree with Porter.  I don’t think good work and social and societal care should be left to one sector. Rather, I think societal issues and challenges should be considered and tackled collaboratively and by all sectors- business/for profit; the “social sector” including nonprofits and NGOs; and government among many others. I also agree with him that the resources to tackle these problems largely rest with corporations.  Porter even provides a graphic to show much more resources rest within corporations to tackle societal problems then in NGOs and with government.

I want to add also that I greatly appreciate Porter’s acknowledgment that businesses don’t do this work alone.  Rather, businesses can partner with NGOs who are being very innovative, and with government entities which can provide helpful resources and incentives to tackle social problems.  Please watch the video here, and then check out a following post with a more detailed reflection on my thoughts in reaction and response to Porter’s Ted Talk.

A response to “Hello, My Name is Church” with more thoughts on the congregation as a place of welcome, sought, and accompaniment

Following up on yesterday’s discussion and pondering about the implications on the congregation, a friend of mine shared this poem from the Huffington Post on Sunday.

Here is an excerpt:

My name is church.  I welcome the:

Hypocrite

Dry

Self-Righteous

Shallow

I welcome the:

Sincere

Passionate

Forgiving

Selfless

I cannot shut my doors to the people who make you:

Angry

Uncomfortable

Impatient

Self-conscious

I encourage you to read it in its entirety and to even skim the comments.  Usually I would say avoid reading comments in these sorts of things because:  1) they are often filled with hate and vitriol; and 2) most people who comment use false names or screen names so they in essence don’t have to own up for their often comments, thoughts, questions, and ideas.  I am interested in having a conversation with someone who is willing to be transparent and honest about who they are, where they are, and why they are wondering what they are wondering.

In this case though, the comments speak to:

1) The obvious brokenness of congregations and the hurt and problems of past experiences.

2) The wide range of views and opinions regarding if a church is to be a welcoming place.

3) The challenge of being the church as a missional people and not just a physical place or community club.

In reading and re-reading, “Hello, My Name is Church,” I see a lot of what has been discussed in the previous posts in this series about welcome, being sought, and accompaniment.  I see the good, the bad, and the ugly of past and current practices. I also see the hope of a redeemed and reconciling community.

I don’t sense a physical building out of this description of who or what the church is. Rather, I sense a community of people who, because they are people- created good but not perfect, and who are simultaneously saint and sinner, are gathered together.  These gathered people have to wrestle with each other and themselves to discern what “does it mean” to be the Body of Christ in light of each person’s beautiful diversity and uniqueness as well as the unity that comes and calls us through Christ.

When worship begins with confession and forgiveness, the worshiping body acknowledges its shortcomings and failings before God.  I think this posted poem begins in much the same way, acknowledging the short comings, but then moving towards the reconciling piece.  The reconciling comes through the practice of forgiveness (and at least as far as I would theologically argue) through the sharing of the Word, the passing of the peace, and the welcoming and joining around the table of the feast.  What do you think?

Does this post from “The Unappreciated Pastor” help add to our discussion?  Does it shed light on what has been talked about? Does it raise more questions?  (If so, what are you left wondering?)

This Week’s Links

Tuesday means its time again for an offering of some of the things I have been reading and thinking about from the past week.  This week’s categories are, in alphabetical order:  Church and Ministry Things; Leadership and Leadership Thought; Neighbor Love; Stewardship; and Vocation. I entrust these to you now in the hope that you find some of these helpful, interesting, and perhaps even provocative. Enjoy!

Church and Ministry Things

Friend of this blog and blogger, Rev. Diane Roth offers some honest thoughts about how she misses some of the conversations she was able to have before she was a pastor.

How is this for a title with Reformation Sunday coming up this Sunday?  “Pope Meets with ‘Bishop of Bling‘ Over Lavish Renovations.”  To be fair, I don’t know much about the particulars about this, but from reading the story and the title, it seems like something Martin Luther (and his political prince friends) would be likely railing against.

I want to offer a shout out to my home congregation back in Washington State which has unveiled its new website which is about 50% up and running now. Nice new look!

This is the first time I have ever linked to the Vatican Insider.  Yesterday came news that the Pope is calling for “mutual forgiveness between Catholics and Lutherans.” This provides me with great hope.

Leadership and Leadership Thought

One of the things I have occasionally written about is the need for a sense of shared vision and mission.  Here are some thoughts shared by Jim Woods on shared vision and its implications for leadership.  As Jean Lipman-Blumen argued before too in many of my classes at the Drucker School, in order to lead one has to be able to tie their story and ideas to the stories, dreams, hopes, and ideas of their partners, collaborators, and constituents.

Having now lived/gone to school/worked in three different regions of the country, its apparent that different places inspire or have different personalities.  Well, now there seems to be some research to support these observations.  What do you make of this?

I have pondered writing a blog post about the leadership learning from the government shut down.  Well, Jason Diamond Arnold has already done this. Check it out!  What do you think?

Here is some food for thought on personal leadership.

I can’t lie. I love Disney, and have always loved the opportunity to enjoy the Disney theme parks (especially Disney Land).  When I saw this story earlier this week, I was intrigued.  There are great insights, and food for thought about customer perception, loyalty, and satisfaction.

Neighbor Love

Ministry Matters offers some insights for congregations and people in general (thanks to the Michael J. Fox Show) about living and supporting people and families affected by chronic conditions. Great read!

I don’t usually provide a link to satire, but this past week’s article in The New Yorker by Andy Borowitz was far too good to pass up.  If we believe that all people should have access to things they need, then this has implications on society, politics, etc. What strikes you about this? 

In this week’s example of someone doing something good and decent, I give you this without further comment.

Rabbi Joshua Stanton and his colleagues express their joy and thanks for being able to marry and affirm “all of God’s people.” I found this article first thanks to friend and Luther Seminary professor and adviser Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner, who referred to this as what might be called by some in ministry and theology an example of “public theology.”

Friend of this blogger Hannah shares some thoughts on the idea of “God’s Will” which are inspired by an episode of The Mindy Project.  It’s a great read and one that will surely make you think.  What comes to mind?

If we really love our neighbor, and want to accompany them, sometimes we have to start by reading, watching, engaging, and listening.  Rev. Joe Smith shares some thoughts on this very concept by explaining why he has print subscriptions.

One of those claims that are often made with the best of intentions by congregations, groups, and nonprofits is that they want to be a “voice for the voiceless.”  Well, Caryn Rivadeneira challenges this notion, and says its time to stop being the voice, and let people speak for themselves.  It’s time to listen to those supposedly “voiceless” and help their voices be heard by others.

Stewardship

Part of stewardship is remembering to be grateful for all the gifts, seen and unseen.  Here is a beautiful video example on gratitude.

Admittedly, not everyone likes to dwell in the details. But they often do matter, and in order to be the best stewards that we can be, some times we need to take stock of the details to see why we are doing what we are doing, and how what we do or don’t do correlates with us as stewards.  Lutheran World Relief blogger Nikki Massie offers this wonderful piece as a reminder about this.

Vocation

Often we get caught up in our busyness and forget about ourselves, why we do what we do, etc. At the very least, we forget to reflect on some of the deeper things that really shape who we are (and our vocations).  Friend of this blogger, professor and adviser Dr. Terri Elton offers some helpful questions and perspective on this very thing.

I hope you found these interesting and helpful.  Blessings on your week!

All Are Welcome, Sought, and Implications of Accompaniment for the Congregation

open door churchIt’s been a couple weeks since the last post in this series. Now its time to return and continue the conversation.  As I asked, how is a congregation to really be an “all are welcome,” and “all are sought place?” How is a congregation to help its people grow in their ability and willingness to embody accompaniment, and truly be consistent to the congregation’s creeds and faith?

Let me first say, there is probably no right answer to these questions. But you probably have figured that out by now on this blog. I don’t generally believe in the idea that there is always only one right answer. So what I offer here is my best thinking to continue the conversation, especially in light of the local congregation.  To really make this a conversation though I hope that you would take the team to share your ideas, thoughts, and questions. Let’s explore this together.

So as for a congregation being all are welcome and all are sought, I spoke to this in my blog posts previously.  All I will add here is that to look back at your congregation’s creed(s), mission and/or purpose statement(s), and values statements (if you have some) or even motto and see what these might add or challenge to the conversation. Do these things support welcoming, seeking and inclusion? Or do they perhaps create a barrier? If they create a barrier, why do you think that is and what is the barrier(s)?

For example, one congregation’s website has the motto or slogan, “A place of grace. People who serve.”  This is a simple but profound statement about who that congregation is and what are pieces of its core theology and understanding.  It says something about its people, that they serve. And it says that the congregation is one that holds to an understanding and practice of grace. Now what this means obviously needs much unpacking and especially to the extent of inclusion and welcome, but it is a great start.  And at least at the onset it doesn’t appear that these words create any barrier to the “all are welcome, all are sought,” concepts.  With the emphasis on grace it also appears that there may be held understandings/views (whether stated or not) of identity and practice of accompaniment as well.

So what might a congregation look like which is trying to grow its people in their understanding of accompaniment?

In no particular order:

1) Provide some faith formation around accompaniment.  Offer some curriculum or classes to provide a basis of what this concept is, and give space to open wondering, questions, and imagination about the concept.  Incorporate some “dwelling in the Word” into this process. I would suggest taking a passage or two for the different faith formation sessions or classes you offer and spending 10-15 minutes dwelling on the passage.  (A couple stories that come to mind that might be a great starting place could be found in the fourth chapter of The Gospel of John for example.)  [Related or alternatively, you might help cultivate a continued conversation about the ideas of “God is for you,” and not just “you” but “you, and you, and you and you…”  Wherever you are in life, wherever your neighbor is in life, God is for both of you.]

2) Incorporate accompaniment into the worship order. One of the natural places for this is in the introduction to communion. It’s in this place where all are invited to the table (if your congregation holds to a theological idea of all are welcome within this viewpoint), and its acknowledged that all are coming or may come from different points of life and perspectives, but Jesus is the same for all- present, loving, and real.  If your congregation practices sending communion out to those who are unable to attend worship, this is also easily incorporated in a blessing after communion as well.

3) Host regular “listening sessions.”  Invite your congregation, but more importantly, invite people in the surrounding neighborhood or community to come and share in conversation and discussion in questions about community and what people in the community are hoping for.  If the church building might be a barrier to some, then host regular sorts of opportunities in neutral locations like community coffee shops.

4) Be aware that the words and images you use, and don’t use, matter.  If someone does not resonate with the language or images, whether because they don’t understand it, or because it explains somethings and identities in particular gendered ways; or if it perhaps even conjures up images of abuse and hurt; or perhaps because they don’t see themselves in the descriptions, pictures, and images they may not feel welcome.  If a congregation is really living out a missional idea that all are sought, images and language will be critically reflected on.  If changed, they will be changed to be in line with their biblical and theological understandings. If retained, they will be explained as to how they are supporting and being supported by their biblical and theological understandings.

5) To the most common question- “what if we don’t believe our church is supposed to be an all are welcome and/or all are sought place?”  Offer a good listening ear. Don’t just listen though.  Let people talk, and then ask important clarifying questions.  Don’t force people to change their minds, but allow their imaginations to take over.  When I am confronted by this, my usual go to places are:  The Lord’s Prayer, a gospel example of Jesus going against the cultural and religious norms; Genesis 2; and the portion of the Nicene Creed where we profess, “…through him all things were made.”  I don’t offer these as proof texts, but rather as places for continued conversation, thinking, and wondering.  What might God be up to?  If God created all that exists, and we were given a calling to live and serve (arguably together) this has implications. But what are those implications?

6) In your church’s publications and social media, offer a weekly discussion question.  Have someone facilitate a conversation around it, and work to promote ideas and understandings of what creates a safe and holy conversation.  You might even include “food for thought” questions weekly for people who take home their bulletins from worship.  If nothing else, extending the conversation beyond an hour of worship, faith formation, and/or fellowship on a Sunday morning is a wonderful thing for building up the people of God as they continue to grow and wonder about what it might mean to be a Child of God called, gathered, and sent to love and serve the Lord and their neighbor.

These were just six things.  There are certainly hundreds more. What ideas or suggestions do you have for building up and growing an understanding of accompaniment within the congregation? What helps or challenges do you see when reflecting on your own congregation’s creeds; mission, purpose, and values statements; theological claims; and general practices?

——————

Other Sources/Resources:

Gil Rendle & Alice Mann, Holy Conversations:  Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations, (The Alban Institute, 2003).