Wednesday, August 22, 2012

September Newsletter Piece

One of the realities of living and working in the church has always been dealing with change. And dealing with change (both as individuals and as organizations) is, to say the least, difficult. Here are some thoughts about change that I wrote for the newspaper while I was in Atikokan. Does it speak to us here at St. Paul's? What changes are on our horizons (both as a church and in Grande Prairie as a whole)?
The Mathematics of Making Change
Come gather ‘round people wherever you roam.
And admit that the waters around you have grown.
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
(Bob Dylan)

We live in a changing world. That much is certain. There is truth to the old adage that the only thing that is consistent in life is change. And yet why do we often find it so hard to change? Even when we think we are ready to change it seems that we easily get stuck in old ruts, old habits. What stops us? Is it just fear or is it maybe something mathematical?

Yes, that’s right I said mathematics might be our problem.

A few years ago I was introduced to an equation for change. It is: MC=fp(fv)(fs). Expanded that means Movement for Change=felt pain x future vision x first steps. The important part of the equation is that it is multiplication. Think back to your school days, what happens when you multiply by zero? The answer is always going to be zero. In our equation above, if any of the variables are missing then change doesn’t happen.

The first variable, felt pain, is easy. Many people, many communities, have that in abundance. Often much of it comes out of that experience Bob Dylan sings about – the times they are a-changin’. As things change we feel pain and grief. But that isn’t enough to change. We need a sense of where we are headed (future vision) and we need to get started (first steps).

So how do we fill in the blanks? Where do we find a vision? Well we begin with asking why we are here. Then we ask what our ideal result would be. For people of faith these questions are intricately linked to our understanding of God’s plan. What is needed for us to be the people (or the church, or the town, or the nation) that God would have us be? Who is God calling us to be? What is God calling us to do? As we explore these questions a vision or goal starts to appear.

That leaves possibly the hardest part of the equation – the first steps. Once we have found a vision, once we know here we are headed, why is it so hard to get going. Often this is where the fear kicks in. Maybe the vision leads us to a place very different from where we have been before. That is scary. Maybe the vision has holes in it and the first few tries might not work exactly. Failure also is scary. But remember that multiplying by zero equals zero. We have to conquer the fear and take the first steps. And for people of faith there is help in remembering that we are not alone. We live, move, and have our being in God. With God’s help, we can take risky steps, we can step out into the unknown, we can embrace change.

What felt pain do you have? What vision do you have for the future? What is the first step in your new path? Where will the mathematics of change take you?

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