Mid Week Faith Lift
April 9, 2014
A Whole New Vision—The Sequel
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
We have just finished our series based on Eric Butterworth’s book, Spiritual Economics, and the last chapter was about creating a whole new vision of prosperity for all and a new vision for Unity. Today, we are going to look at how WE here at Unity Church of Ames are going to work together to create a whole new vision for our church community. I have been attending a number of different groups for leaders, one called Contemplative Leaders, which meets once a month. This group is comprised of leaders from various places including business, nonprofits and churches. We have been studying a book by Peter Block called Community: The Structure of Belonging, which has a very different approach to leadership and community but it is one that seems more effective in creating a shared journey and supporting a sense of belonging and connection. I have also been networking with other ministers on developing meeting formats that truly support community. Today we are going to experiment!
One of the first things I am going to share with you is the following set of principles for creating healthy communities. I received this from one of the ministers in the group. Her principles are in bold and my comments, which follow are not.
Margaret Wheatley’sTen Principles for Creating Healthy Communities
1. People support what they create. When we create community together, we are all invested in making it work, in making it grow, and in making it thrive. We want Unity Church of Ames to be here in 50 years, so our question is how to support UCOA so that our vision is realized. There will be different ministers during the life of this spiritual community. It is the COMMUNITY, UCOA, that will be what lasts.
2. People act responsibly when they care. When we are invested, then we are able to respond when there are needs which arise. These may be financial needs to fix the building or parts of it, such as the AC and installing the de-humidifier. The need may be to contribute for the Angel Garden, or the YSS Christmas stockings or other projects. We are “able to respond” which is a great way to define responsible!
3. Conversation is the way human beings have always thought. We will talk together and listen to each other to discern what it is that we value the most and what we want for Unity Church of Ames. Everyone’s input is welcomed and vital. For our online readers/followers: your input is valued as well. Later in this message, I will include the questions which were discussed during our World Café Meeting and include information for you can respond as well. And if you were not able to attend the meeting, this will also be a way for you to respond so that your voice is included.
4. To change the conversation, change who is in it. We are creatures of habit and we tend to hang out with our friends. The World Café process changes that up and asks us to be in conversation with a variety of folks, some of whom we may not know very well.
5. Expect leaders to come from anywhere. We have many emerging leaders in this community who are recognizing their gifts and stepping into service. I am just delighted that we now have two folks who are working on LUT: Su Podraza-Nagle and Steve Newell.
6. Focusing on what is working gives us energy and creativity; focus on what is wrong and people get depressed and disengaged. To that end, the questions have been developed to be open-ended, thought provoking and conversation inspiring! Whatever we focus our attention on we will get more of…..so let’s focus on what is working here at UCOA and what is especially dear to us!
7. The wisdom resides within us. Well, that is for sure a Unity teaching….we have all the wisdom we need, right here, right now!
8. Everything is a failure in the middle. Now, that is a comfort, isn’t it? And isn’t that the truth? Sometimes you can’t even tell you are IN the middle until you get to the end of a big project or event and look back! We will go forward in Faith….facing the middle together!
9. Humans can handle anything as long as we’re together. If we create a healthy community, which supports all of us in our spiritual growth, then we can deal with anything that confronts us together. There is plenty of room for diverse viewpoints and ideas and experiences in our community. And we hold a common vision of growing in consciousness as we share our spiritual journey.
10. Generosity, forgiveness and love. These are the real cornerstones aren’t they? A holy trinity of the mantra of prosperity! We have been studying prosperity which is all about generosity and forgiveness is a part of that prosperity practice. And what undergirds and sustains it all is love, or God!
With these as our common understand, we can now move to this whole World Café business.
What is a World Café? It is a meeting format that is designed with the intention of maximizing connections between people, inviting dialogue about meaningful issues of concern to the whole group and developing a shared sense of direction and purpose. Out of the process comes greater clarity about what the group needs, what the next steps might be to meet those needs and a sense of possibilities. In some ways it creates the “holy mess” in the “middle” out of which divine order can emerge. It has 7 steps, so let’s take a look at that together!
1. Create the context….which for us is that we all love Unity Church of Ames and we want to move from surviving to thriving. Our shared vision is a THRIVING community, which is spiritually grounded in Unity principles and financially strong and able to support a full time minister and sustain growth well into the future….to the next generation of Unitics!
2. Create hospitable space….all ideas are welcome and there are only “left” answers, no “right” answers. All contributions are valued in a sacred and safe space, which we create for each other.
3. Explore questions that matter….we will get to the questions.
4. Everyone’s contribution matters! Each table will have a “host” who is Board member. The “host” does not move as the 4 rounds of questions are discussed. The “host” can record responses or ask someone in the group to record.
5. Connects Diverse Perspective—lot’s of different points of view in this spiritual community and as you move from table to table, you will get to hear the variety and share your own perceptions and thoughts! The intention is to listen from the heart and deepen our understanding of one another and our connections.
6. Listen For Patterns and insights as the sharing continues. Some kind of patterns will emerge. Listen for what you hear and what you don’t hear, what is not said.
7. Share Collective Discoveries—we will collect the information and notes and share at a future time.
This was the format, these were the questions:
1. Questions about Us:
* What drew me here to Unity Church of Ames?
* Churches are busy places, people may not know all of the things I do or participate in, so tell the people at my table what I’m involved with at church – or how I would like to be involved.
* Look back at my spiritual journey. . . tell about someone, something, some time that encouraged me to grow.
2 . Questions about how we understand UCOA right now:
* Pretend that I am talking with a new friend about Unity Church of Ames. What are the 3 things I would tell them?
* Church is called to be different than normal society. Tell a story about when THIS church was acting like church – in ways not so typical in society.
When did we create a better church and a better world?
* Which current ministry of the church am I, personally, most excited about? What inspires or motivates me to feel good about this church?
3. Questions about vision:
* When I think about Unity Church of Ames, what are the areas, the places, where I can see things beginning to bud? Places we are going or growth to celebrate?
* What might be the challenges, opportunities, or critical moments facing Unity Church of Ames?
* What one thing might pull me into my future?
4. Questions that are energizing– that are about energy and excitement.
* What do I want for our church? How would I like Unity Church of Ames to go about making that happen?
* Is there any other question I would have asked in this process? Ask and answer it in our group
* Spend a moment thinking about my personal gifts, talents and passions
is there a new way that I might like to be involved with my church?
If you were not able to participate in person or you are one of our “online” members/friends, please email me your thoughts on these questions. Send your comments to email@example.com
Blessings on the journey as we grow together in love,