Friday, November 7, 2014

November Newsletter

It has often been said that your ministry lies where your passion, your gifts, and the needs of the world intersect.

So where is your ministry? Where is our ministry as a community of faith?

It seems to me that to know that we need to know three things.

First what are we passionate about? What are the issues or things you just can't let go of? What is it that you work on and get energized through the work? This may be the easiest question to answer as individuals. It is much harder as a community of faith because we have differing (and sometimes opposing) passions. But what is it that we as a faith community are passionate about?

Second we need to identify our gifts. Strangely this is often harder than we expect, both as individuals and as communities. I think that is in part because we don't feel comfortable naming our giftedness lest it seem like bragging. I think it is also in part because we have been conditioned by a lifetime of advertising to look at what we don't have, what we “need” instead of what we already have. We have been taught to see scarcity instead of abundance.

There is an approach to budgeting and planning that I find deserves a closer look. It is called asset-based budgeting. What you do is you start by listing all the gifts you have. This could be “stuff”. It could be buildings and property. It could be cash. It could be people – their talents, their connections, their time. Then when you have all the gifts listed out (each one on a sticky note for example) you can start to clump them together, to look for connections. Then you look at the clumps and ask what can be done with those things. [Note that this is a heavily simplified description based on my limited reading on the topic] This seems to me to be a great way to discover gifts that you did not even know you had. It also could be a way to see potential in something that always seemed relatively useless.

Finally we need to know what the needs of the world are. This one, I think, deceives us. Sometimes it is easy to tell ourselves we know what the world, or at least what our community needs. But we need to check on that. I have a suspicion that many of us get to know a subset of the community relatively well but the whole community? Particularly in a community that changes quickly it is hard to always know what is happening out there. And unless we know what is happening how do we know what needs we might be able to meet?

This is a question that has been niggling at me in all the visioning discussions we have been having at Council meetings. We talk about wanting to meet the community, about wanting to connect with the community, but what do we know about the community? I know we each know a bit. So part of the way to get a picture of the community is a variation of the asset-mapping approach. We each share our own snapshots and a fuller picture emerges.

I have a plan shaping in my head. (One of these days I should probably write it down in case it falls out of my head – which I guess I sort of am doing in this piece.) I invite us to take Monday evenings during Lent learning about our community. Or maybe more than just during Lent (because that is only 6 weeks and we might want more discussions than that). My thought is to have people come and talk with us about what is happening in Grande Prairie, about what the issues are. Then we can know more (which is always a good thing) as we talk about how we as a faith community respond to the needs around us. So my question to you is (assuming there is interest) who do we need to hear from?

I look forward to your input. More details about the study will come out in January.

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