Tuesday, April 13, 2010

saying thanks: turning practices into missional life

This is a most excellent example of helping a community give thanks. It is a church wall at Church of the Trinity Uniting, Goodwood. People are being given (paper) flowers and invited to give thanks.

Over weeks the wall is growing, an emerging symphony of colour. Over weeks what people write seems to be deepening. Over the weeks, people are commenting they are finding themselves becoming more and more intentional about looking for reasons to be thankful in their daily lives. Good stuff. (The pastor, very wisely IMHO, is photographing the wall each week, planning to make it into a movie, to play at years end.)

This became an excellent learning moment in our Missional Church Leadership class (3rd gathering of 10). We were looking at ways to listen and I was talking about appreciative inquiry, the simple practice of saying thanks, as a window into where God’s Spirit might be active. And how the simple act of naming ie saying thanks, gives people an opportunity to further participate.

And at that moment, the photo got passed around and we admired the colour and the effective, yet creative way, of helping people worship.

What intrigues me is how this simple, yet intentional, worship practice might actually be part of the church’s ongoing intentional mission life.

For example: Why not take a note of the recurring themes. Then invite all those who gave thanks over a year to a gathering. Share with them the themes. Get people in groups around questions like what surprises you? Then ask them to think about ways the community could further develop this theme ie be yet more thankful. Perhaps they are thankful for family. Get them to brainstorm ideas, ways they could focus their energy on families. Record the findings and ask if any people want to part of giving their dreams legs.

Start a second year with a second wall. See what happens as you gather people intentionally around what they have identified as important and significant.

Such, I would suggest, is the task of missional leadership:
1. Invite people into missional practices
2. Mirror back to people what is emerging as the practices are lived.
3. Gather conversations about next steps: how then shall we live?
4. Record the findings and return to 1.

It was a great class! (Even without the learning that emerged as another student talked about farm gates. But that’s for another post.)

Posted by steve at 04:54 PM