Friday, September 25, 2009

mission as climate change

My half day with the South Australian Baptists went well. Good questions, engaged group, good energy. I essentially talked about the Opawa story and the changes the church has been through, framed with a context of mission and change. I felt like it was my best attempt yet at telling the Opawa story in terms of frameworks of mission and change and this was most probably because I test drove two new frameworks.

Firstly, the concept of micro-meso-macro climates. It is a term I learned in my initial horticulture degree, which I have since taken and applied to mission and change. The idea in horticulture is that a fence, or some shade cloth can change the micro-climate of an environment. So can a set of hills or a river (meso-climate). So can a mountain range (macro-climate). In sum, the environment of a place is affected by all three aspects – micro-meso-macro.

So, in terms of church, I asked each person to think about their “micro” climate ie the 5 blocks around their church. We then listed those on the white board and instantly, visually, we could see very different and diverse climates are at work. They then told me, as the outsider, about the “meso” climate of Adelaide city, before I told them about the macro-climate that is the post-… West. In sum, the task of being leaders today is affected by all three aspects – micro-meso-macro. And so the wise leader sets about understanding all three climates as they embark on the change and mission journey.

I suspect that setting out this framework thus meant that as I told the Opawa story, they were hearing the story sensitized not just to the challenge of post-… mission, but also able to do the translation work because Opawa has a unique 5 block “micro” climate, in terms of the history of the church in the area, and the demographic of our community.

Second, I used a change diagram from Leading Congregational Change : A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey. The diagram depicts change as 2 interlocking circles, with a central heart. One circle is change management, the other circle is spiritual practices, and the central heart is a theology of change.

What I find helpful is this: that it says – yes, we have to understand the sociological dynamics of change. Equally, such processes must be accompanied by a set of spiritual practices through which our Christlike character is shone, and based on a clear theology of change. It is an integration of best practice, Christ-like spirituality and Christian understandings of who is God and who are humans? All of which then provided a helpful framework by which to unpack the Opawa story.

All in all, an enjoyable half day, followed by a most stimulating lunch with the state-wide leadership team. How do we develop new leaders? What is the place of creativity in leadership? Can it be taught, or is it a gift? How on earth does a missional theology of missio Dei shift from head to hand, from theory to practice? A most stimulating day.

Posted by steve at 10:57 PM

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