Last week it would have been different. Last week I would have said that I believed that this was a great opportunity for us to do it differently. This week, I know, it’s true. Doing differently works.
Last week the challenge was clear. Here’s the backstory:
My clergy colleague Catherine was leaving for a few weeks of well planned for vacation and to lead a church trip to Iona.
My clergy colleague Amy was beginning family leave as she welcomes a new foster daughter into her family.
My colleague Rebecca was finishing her position here as our beloved Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the past seven years. Our interim coordinator, Leslie would begin next week.
Oh yes, and next week was September, the beginning of a season of newness here at church.
Sometimes when things change and when challenges are clear it can feel like a perfect storm and a time to buckle the hatches and head for shore. Sometimes, yes, there is a time for just that.
But sometimes, such a time is instead a time to imagine doing things differently.
Sometimes it’s clear that we will fail if with try to keep doing things the way we have always done them. We know clearly what will happen then: stress and burnout, overload and anxiety.
So what if we did it differently?
How might it be if we embraced this time – a time in all of our lives full of challenge and change in so many ways – and saw this time as gift and opportunity for us to think about doing things differently?
Like so many churches our own congregation is living into a new church structure. Like many church’s we have found that some of the familiar ways of being church with a dozen 12 member boards that meet monthly just doesn’t meet the realities of our lives today and doesn’t help us move forward the ministries we are called to today.
We’ve needed to figure out new ways to try on doing ministry together. We’ve had to embrace that some ways we try will fail. We’ve had to embrace the truth that failing is a gift and one of the best ways to learn what can work. We’ve had to embrace the gift of experimenting.
This fall, I look forward to exploring in my own life and in our life together as church new ways we might carry out our responsibilities for and with each other. I am excited about what we might learn.
I’ve learned already…
When we are clear about our purpose, our imaginations can soar about how we might carry that out.
When we recognize that we really can’t do it all alone, we can risk letting go of control and asking others to join us knowing they will bring in new ideas and new ways of doing things.
When we recognize that the skills of thinking differently are something we all can cultivate, we can become creative people ourselves and not leave the creative thinking to others.
As Adam Grant writes in his book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, all of us can learn to spot opportunities for change, recognize a good idea, overcome anxiety and ambivalence and make suggestions that can be heard and embraced for doing it differently. He’s given me such courage and encouragement to think and do differently.
So, it’s September. And what a great time to begin. To think different, be different, imagine different about the ways we have always done things. To live our faith and be part of the ongoing newness and creativity that is God and that God is bringing to life with us in the world.
So what about it? I’d love to hear your stories of how this month you tried on doing something familiar in a new way. What worked? What didn’t? What wondrous failures did you have? What did you learn along the way? Send me your stories and I’ll collect them and share a blog post on what we learned!
Blessed September experimenting!