Are you getting too many notifications on TEAMS… or too few… or just the right amount? Take control of what notifications you receive and how…
Socrates is attributed with saying “The unexamined life is not worth living”
And more recently Charles Handy quotes: “It’s like the Irishman Frances Crick once said: ‘How do I know what I think until I hear what I say?’”
Do you take time to listen to yourself..? To reflect and ponder what you really believe and think about life, the universe, faith, God, yourself and everything…
What are you a member of? What groups and organisations do you belong to?
Within the Church we sometimes talk of membership, and we sometimes talk of how some of our most committed folk are not members, and yet many of our members aren’t active in the community of faith.
The understanding of membership has certainly changed over the years. In our post-modern world… are we still ‘post-modern’ or gone somewhere beyond that… there simply isn’t the same commitment to any organisation, or institution, favoring a much more fluid approach – this is part of life’s experience in this season…
I occasionally ponder my commitment to the groups that I belong to.
I am a member of the Church of Scotland, baptised in 1964, and later made my ‘profession of faith’ – I joined the Church in 1981, as a teenager. It is a significant belonging that shapes my living – not least because in 1992 I was ordained a minister in the Kirk. I am deeply committed to the Church and cannot imagine life without that sense of belonging
I am also a member of the local Rotary Club – and therefore a member of Rotary International. I regularly share in the weekly Rotary lunch meeting – although attendance has slipped a bit recently when online meetings have often clashed with other commitments. Occasionally over the years I have attended Rotary meetings elsewhere and appreciated that sense of belonging and welcome in the world wide family of Rotary, but only very occasionally have I engaged in anything beyond my local club, and when something else crops up I won’t manage the local either.
I am also a member of the Incorporation of Tailors in Glasgow. One of the Trades associations now steeped in the history of the city and continuing to do much benevolent work in the City. It is many years since I have been actively engaged – but I have kept my membership, following the family tradition from my Grandfather to my father to me.
I am a member of Mensa, the International High IQ Society, rather exclusive I know… I keep up my modest annual subscription – there’s a bit of kudos in knowing that I belong, the monthly magazine has some interesting articles, I don’t go to any meetings – although have enjoyed some of the recent online offerings.
Years ago I did some study around leadership and was introduced to the idea of folllowership. Around the Church we might call it discipleship. In the work of Barbara Kellerman – she speaks of a spectrum of followership from isolates to bystanders to participants to activists to diehards. Doesn’t that translate into the Church context?
When I ponder the level of engagement that others have to the Church, any judgement is nipped in the bud when I think of my varying commitments to other organisations – and I realise that others say of the Church:
there’s a bit of kudos in knowing that I belong, the monthly magazine has some interesting articles, I don’t go to any meetings – although have enjoyed some of the recent online offerings
And some say… I have kept my membership, following the family tradition from my Grandfather to my father to me.
Others say… only very occasionally have I engaged in anything beyond my local club, and when something else crops up I won’t manage the local either
And some say… I am deeply committed to the Church and cannot imagine life without that sense of belonging
And that challenges and motivates me to meet people where they are… and to review what, when, how, why and where we do what we do to share good, relevant, transformation news with those whom we encounter – and to nudge folk along that spectrum of discipleship…
Stephen Covey spoke of ‘First things First’, important things first. He borrowed Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix Michael Heppell and others speak of allocating time to the categories: ‘Me’, ‘Key’, ‘stuff’ – where ‘Key’ projects are the mission critical important ones… yet how often all the urgent stuff pushes out the important. ‘Me’ times – are, well it says it on the tin doesn’t it – times for YOU – and that’s important too.
In our fast paced world when communication can be instant there can be the temptation to react swiftly with an email reply. Remember though the slightly older technology that facilitates full duplex synchronistic conversation – the telephone – and its modern counterparts the Voice call or video call. You can engage much better, reach a full solution rather than just the next step… and there’s less opportunity for misunderstanding.
See also: Before you click SEND, think TRACKS
Eli Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints at its simplest says ‘No system is operating at maximum potential, if it were there would be infinite and perfect output, there will always be at least one limiting factor, or constraint, be it machinery, a person, policy, belief, behaviour or whatever. Any system is only as strong as its weakest link. To improve efficiency focus on overcoming the most significant constraint, work on that until it’s no longer the biggest bottleneck. Identify new biggest constraint, and repeat.’
Goldratt also said that many constraints are unwittingly set up when we change a part of the system but omit to undo the rules required to uphold the old process!
Wikipedia has a good overview of TOC
In the context of your Church experience what are the big bottlenecks? Can you think of times when old rules are carried into new processes?
Mmm… I’m not so sure about that one… you see some things are are working just perfectly as they did fifty years ago… but are they fit for purpose now?
You’ll have heard the one that asks, “How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb?”
“Change! Change! Really, is there something wrong with the old one!”
What if we flip it and ask, “How many light bulbs does it take to change the church?” Light bulbs are a metaphor for ideas… and I’ve heard countless ideas over the years, I’ve had countless ideas, and shared them… only for them all to be kicked into the long grass (I rather like metaphors!)
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a ‘forcing function’1 – an unexpected event that accelerated change in expected ways. It has been a catalyst to some of the change that we knew was needed, but resistance to change has maintained the status quo..
Why change? Does the church need to change? Yes, not because eternal truths change, but because the context and culture around changes. We must change to keep up with and remain relevant in changing times…
Some may say, “If it ain’t broke, dont fix it”, but what if it’s working perfectly as it did a generation ago, but fails to interact with current context and practice.
How many light bulbs does it take to change the church..?
You can only change 3 things: structures, policies and mindsets… but you have to change them all… and mindset will always be the hardest!
To effect those changes, you need to do three things… I call them steps 4, 5, 6 in honour and recognition of the change that has already happened! Change is all around and change is hard… particularly within the Church context, where despite a core belief that our God is a god of transformation, who journeys with us into unknown places, and who makes all things new, we have huge investment in tradition, heritage and ‘the way it’s aye been.’
Steps 1,2 and 3 – they’ve happened already – think of the changes that you have seen already in your experience of Church – its structures, practices and attitudes…
4: Create shared Vision, ideas purpose, image of the future, aim…
5: Engagement with People and non-human resources (funding, materials)
6: Do It! Action, Delivery…
Steve Radcliffe’s book Future Engage Deliver is an excellent and very readable book on the leadership of change based on the 3 phases he calls Future, Engage and Deliver. John Kotter’s classic change process has eight steps, variations on the theme all boil down to three areas with different levels of detail within. Every change model I have encountered is about envisioning a better future, collaborating with people to develop, understand, share the vision, and acting towards implementing it and embedding it into a new culture – a new ‘that’s how we do it here’. Kotter’s book ‘That’s not how we do it here’ in story form about how a family of meerkats adapt, is a good read!
The triangle diagram diagram above I put together early 2000s, while engaged in the Church of Scotland’s Area Team Ministry project – one of many pilots to promote collaborative ministry. The Church Without Walls report of 2001 had spoken of building the Church around the gifts of the people – and I remember thinking – but what if there is a mismatch between the gifts of the people and the envisioned future?
Which comes first the Vision, or the Gifts of the people, or the Actions? And the more I pondered… I realised that we need all three to work together and to be informed and supported by each other…
If we start with VISION we need to have the PEOPLE to bring it to life, and we need to know that ACTION is achievable. (See also SMARTER goals)
If we start with PEOPLE (gifts, talents and resources) then we must ensure that the people are on board with the shared VISION, and that the people are trained, motivated and supported towards ACTION.
If we start with ACTION then it has to be clear that it’s the right action, in line with agreed and shared VISION, and that the most suitable PEOPLE are taking forward the Action. I’m not a big fan of ‘Just Do It’ – it maybe works for Nike… but Action without Vision can be a fruitless expenditure of energy.
We need VISION, PEOPLE and ACTION – we need them all and we need to keep asking the questions, reviewing and reflecting as we journey into an even better future.
8 Church trends for 2021 with Carey Nieuwhof