My blogging with The United Church of Canada (UCC) started over 7 years ago. It began during a programme called Emerging Spirit. At that time, we were trying to understand the ripples of transformation that were – and continue – to affect most institutions that have been traditional anchors: Churches, NGOs, benevolent and community organisations, non-profits and even our governments have had to wrestle with the tensions that exists between what are called modern and postmodern cultures. Since then, we have continued to try to navigate these shifting waters and figure out how best to share a message that we believe remains most relevant.
As my denomination – in which I walk and work, in which I try to find ways to live out a life grounded in faith – continues to discern a path, we have begun to make decisions and some possible direction has begun to emerge. A significant part of this possible direction comes from The Comprehensive Review:
Prior to my current role in ministry, I was involved in secular contexts such as conflict resolution, restorative justice and organisational development and transformation. I appreciate our current intention to imagine anew, to ask difficult questions and to look into the mirror and embrace renewal even when it is difficult. I also recognise that – in many ways – I am outside of this process. I have not, nor have I, facilitated the unfolding gatherings of UCC folk. I am also not in a place to know the nuances within this larger conversation.
It has been my experience that any culture change – from as intimate as a family to as large as an (inter)national organisation – must begin from a place of values and identity. From the stories that we use to describe ourselves, we discover shared motivations and drives. In such places of story, what is life-giving and passion-filled is discerned.
Without these – often intangible moorings – no amount of process adjustment, changes in structure, or shifts in responsibility are enough to nurture that which may emerge. In fact, sometimes investing in the how-things-work as opposed to why-do-we-do-what-we-do has – in my experience – often only fed inertia and apathy. This stumbling block occurs even when there is a collective recognition that something is afoot, yet there is uncertainty how to harness the shifting energy.
As I share some of my own questions, I would love to hear from those who have journeyed through institutional transformation. I would love to listen to your stories about being revitalised. I also know it would be a gift for those who have been part of The Comprehensive Review to share reflections about where you have been and how you have found this experience energising. I do not know where we may be going, but I do know that the questions we ask determine the path upon which we shall tread and – ultimately – the future at which we shall arrive …