I am very proud to be part of Emerging Leaders, such a great organization making such a profound difference in the city of London. As we, the city of London, head to polls today have you thought about why you vote? What matters to you?
Shifting and changing culture is a difficult thing. While many may be on board with the need for a shift in culture, it is difficult to enact that change. There are three common ways in which change is often implemented.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it will not help you change the culture of your church. What works at another church or diocese, will not necessarily work in your context. There are many reasons for this, but most notably the source of your imitation has invested greatly into their venture, raised up the right team, down missional listening and are now acting accordingly. Often we try to replicate what others have done, rather then looking for what God is asking us to do in our context. The desire to have a ready made program parachuted in is a strong motivation. The hope is for quick results, little work and easy decisions. If it is too good to be true, often it is.
Importation, another means of implementing change, is the dreaded consultant. Many churches will hire a consultant to help them move forward. This has a tendency to work in individual churches on a small scale where the individual congregation has already bought into the need for change, but often runs into problems on Diocesan levels were cynicism is aimed at the higher ups and buy in is low. It also can lead people to placing all expectations on one person, who will be the saviour. And when things naturally do not work out because one person alone cannot save the world, the horizontal church responds that we tried and change is not possible, status quo remains. Unfortunately this also creates a scapegoat and does little to build a team that will champion the need for change.
Revolutions meanwhile are often successful, but they require a crisis situation. Through crisis the need for change is fostered when the church is willing to look for new leadership, new vision, new methods, new practices, new rewards, new principles, a new approach to hiring and formation, and a new way to promote those within the organization. This type of change is effective for it breaks with traditions, the same policy traditions that have created the crisis in the first place. After all, doing the same things and expecting a different results is not just a logically fallacy, it is also Einstein’s definition of insanity.
To help enact revolution, a collaborative team of leaders needs to be brought together. Power needs to be decentralized so that decisions can happen quickly and efficiently and for team members to have some skin the game. The buck doesn’t stop at the bishop, but rather at the team who are responsible to each other and also the organization, the church.
In this manner, the structure of the organization shifts from vertical to horizontal. More individuals are giving responsibility for the enacting of the vision, mission and purposes. The delegation of decision making is not an abdicating of responsibility of the leader (the bishop), but rather is putting individuals in positions to succeed and to advance the vision of the church.
Revolutions require new leaders in many ways. They promote from the bottom up. Traditional paths to the operational power are replaced by assigning task to the people best suited for the responsibility, regardless of tenure, age or experience.
All of this sounds great, but operational integrity must be maintained throughout and adherence to the execution of the intent of the church must inform all actions of the organization. Being focused, and making sure all decisions flow into the agreed upon vision, mission and purpose is simply a must. It is easy to go off the rails, to get distracted and for individuals to have pet projects or concerns. But in a crisis, all need to pull together, in the same direction as a team.
This building of a collaborative team to help enact a revolution and to carry forward the vision, the mission and the purposes of the church flows from the principle that there can be no expertise without collaboration (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) and success depends on the collaboration of experts.
Taking directly from the #ToL website, #ToL is describe as,
The concept of Teams of Leaders has been developed by the US Army to help it to interact with the civilian world of the post-Cold War era, and to promote utilization of the immense intellectual, business, and logistics capabilities of the Army in the service of the civilian authorities. In addition, the ToL concept served to strengthen the existing relationships with the long-standing allies of the US, and to form new ones with the large number of rapidly emerging partners.
The original goal of the Teams of Leaders concept was to fill the structural gap in situations where a single authority and a single shared purpose were typically either unclear, subject to external manipulation, or entirely absent. Hence, the driving force behind the Teams of Leaders approach was the wish to promote an environment that builds common understanding, and develops mutual trust and confidence among a wide variety of professional, organizational, and national teams forced to act jointly in the often turbulent setting of the contemporary political, economic, and social world.
Ultimately, ToL policies, programs and practices were found to be equally applicable across both the military and civilian governmental, non-governmental, and corporate entities acting in the joint, inter-agency, inter-governmental, and multinational (JIIM) setting of globalized activities. The transition of ToL from the military to the civilian sphere of activities was largely afforded through the work of the Center for Collaborative Command and Leadership (CCCL, formerly Center for Collaborative Leadership in Healthcare – CCLH). Presently, the ToL concept serves as the unique and exceptionally well suited tool in the development of collaboration among entities involved in missions executed at all levels of the civil society and of the corporate world.
On October 4th, your Rogue Preacher began his first session with #ToL and Leadership London. It was an exciting day of learning the methodologies and practices and collaborating with an exciting group of Londoners, of leaders, who are seeking to become citizens of action committed to reshaping London for a better future.
Each month we will meet and tackle problems in various sectors of London and thereby gain valuable insight across all of London while putting into practice the methodologies of #ToL. These sectors include:
Our Place in the Region
There is much to be learned and much to be shared. There will be techniques of building teams rapidly, developing solutions to long standing problems and rapidly responding to new problems as they emerge. It plans to be an amazing journey of discovering London, developing leadership skills and team building methodologies and most of all continuing as a life long learner.
I will endeavour to share thoughts and insights, especially as they pertain to the church. Hopefully as I blog my way through this project there will be insights that can be applied directly to the church, its long term problems, rapidly developing problems and help foster a stronger and better teams of leaders throughout the church.
I will try to not be critical of the church, but at times I will have to be. My critiques will not be about pointing out problems and assigning blame, but rather will be about offering ways we can name our problems, but also tackle them to help further God’s Kingdom and build up the church here in London.
So check back periodically, and hold on…we are going to plunge deeply into the heart of London.
Steven Strogatz theory of synchronization, or spontaneous order, has made the rounds across the Internet. You may have come across examples of Strogatz theory on your Facebook wall if you remember the videos of synchronizing metronomes.
There are, of course, many other examples of sync theory in our world. Everything from fireflies that synchronize to Anglicans that all respond in unison after someone calls out, “The Lord be with you”.
But what does sync theory have to do with the church? The theory posits that all things come into alignment and synchronization. Through this synchronization, male fireflies are better able to attract more females when they band together. Anglicans in a crowded room hush and are ready to listen or pray. And for the church at large it hears and responds to the world around it, coming into synchronization and thereby growing and thriving.
This doesn’t mean we bend or change ourselves to fit society, nor throw out our traditions. As much as we listen to the community around us, the community around us also will listen to us and adapts to us as we come into relationship. The changes that we make to our spaces, our services, or where our services are even held also requires society to change from the strictly profane to quasi-sacred, even if the sacred looks very different then what we are used to today. It is about coming into sync and relationship with one and another; church and neighbourhoods.
If you are wondering what happened in the video above, it is simple, physics happened. Strogatz, an expert in applied mathematics, uses this experiment to illustrate his theory of spontaneous order.
In spontaneous order, Strogatz explains that living organism and even inanimate objects fall into sync with one another in ways that seem unnatural and inexplicable. As we just saw in the video, metronomes are placed on a small board and each ticking with the same speed but at different intervals; so they each move at the same X number of beats per minute. The board with the ticking metronomes is then placed on two bottles of water.
For a few moments nothing seems to happen, but you slowly notice and hear the metronomes slowly coming into sync with each other. The metronomes, Strogatz explains, are “speaking” to each other. Each metronome was in fact reacting to the motion the others generated across the surface of the board as it rested on the water bottles. They were each communicating their individual timing to each other, allowing them to line up rhythmically, even though scientifically speaking they should never break their individual timing.
But what does this have to do with the church?
In London we have an upcoming municipal election. This new council will be task with implementing The London Plan, which was developed through the ReThink process, the largest citizen engagement process in history of city planning with over 10 000 individual Londoners helping to shape their collective future. This long-range 25-year plan will be for everything from housing and retail development to transit for the city of London. It is imperative that the Diocese of Huron and the Deanery of London listen closely to the decisions that are being made and adjust accordingly. We must come into sync with the world developing around us.
One of the important ways we will come into sync is being very conscious of future transit developments and infill housing developments. Below is the proposed BRT (Bus Rapid Transit Routes). As is common along rapid transit routes in every other Canadian city, infill and densification occur. This makes these routes and the development that will occur around them, the new mission field in London and parishes that are along these routes are poised to make significant gains if the Diocese and the Deanery are willing to invest in them and help them come into sync with their neighbourhoods and transit villages.
The parishes North to South that look to benefit from The London Plan most are:
* It should be noted that both St Aidan’s and Church of the Ascension would reap secondary benefits since both mission points are quite physically far from the proposed transit villages. Both congregations will have much work to do if they are able to reap the benefits from infill, densification and rapid transits routes in the coming 25 years, but it is still possible.
** It should also be noted that St John the Evangelist and All Saints Hamilton Road are close to the BRT route but will have the same problems of being just enough off the beaten path, so to speak, as does St Aidan’s and Church of the Ascension.
The growing mission field will encircle the Transit Villages and the BRT routes. The parishes listed above will directly benefit in an increased mission field with new evangelistic opportunities to grow their respected churches and have new ministry opportunities. The time is now to begin investing in these parishes for the future, especially for the next 25 years. As we listen and come into sync with the changing world and prepare ourselves to serve the neighbourhoods we find ourselves located in, it is imperative that we synchronize with the developments of the city of London if we are to have the biggest impact for Christ.
The church and politics seem like the same animal to me most days. Both are institutions built around people and both can become paralyzed by just a few individuals. And yet both can also do some amazing things.
In the church, just like in politics there often is an old power broker who will use a wedge issue to their personal advantage, not caring about the overall health of the community, but rather they are more concerned about maintaining or expanding their position. It can be quite frustrating watching a community shoot itself in the foot, whether that be the church or a city.
For the past few weeks Joe Swan, Bud Polhill, Bill Armstrong, Stephen Orser, Paul Van Meerbergen, Denise Brown, and Sandy White have used the Fanshawe/Kingsmill development (a little background info) as that wedge issue in London. By splitting the council vote they were able to say that they want Fanshawe to relocate a campus downtown but not for the deal presented. The idea is to appeal to both sides of the fence, but to do nothing.
It seemed like a golden opportunity might slip between council’s fingers. But then something marvellous happened. The community, institutions and individuals, began a campaign to change the mind of just one councillor.
To give you an example of the kind of public pressure that came forward, check out Citizen Corps blog on the list of supporters. Hundreds of others not listed signed petitions, called or e-mailed their councillors.
And as a packed gallery sat and watched council go through the motions of debating the issue there was a sense of anticipation. As each councillor rose to speak to the issue they re-affirmed their previous position. That was until Denise Brown finally rose to speak to the motion last.
Her tone was firm, and she explained how had spent hours and hours in research. She had spoken to Fanshawe, sought outside advice and even looked to other cities like Kitchener/Waterloo for advice and knowledge. There was something brewing in the gallery, a palpable sense of optimism.
As Denise spoke, much like a preacher, she wound up her speech by simply stating that she would reverse her position and support the deal. The gallery erupted in applause. For well over a minute Mayor Joni Baechler could not restore order, for the sense of jubilation and optimism had boiled over. Mayor Baechler indulged the gallery with a sly smile.
As I sat there, looking out over dozens of organizations, institutions and everyday citizens, there was the sense that something special had happened this night, something wonderful. A sense of renewal and rebirth was gripping the city and new possibilities for a better tomorrow was at our doorsteps.
As a preacher myself, the emotion in the gallery, the trial of the past month, the work to encourage just one councillor to change their vote, all of it was worthwhile and for me it looked not like politics but it looked like church. It looked like church because as I sat there I was able to see the old church power broker being transformed, stepping out in faith and allowing new life to flourish in her community.
I have no idea if Denise Brown is a Christian or not. But tonight politics and the church mirrored each other and we journeyed from the cross to the empty tomb.
Etiquette is important. And there are all manners of etiquette lessons that need to be learned in life. Which fork to use, or how to dress for certain receptions and such. Well the same is true for our interactions online, and maybe even more profoundly because our actions online will be seen and read by many. They, in essence, represent not only us, but also the church.
I would like to offer a few more useful tips from the original piece I wrote in November 2011. This of course is not an exhaustive list, and I am sure I will add to it again in the future. The following three suggestions are meant to build a strong foundation for social media etiquette and our online behaviour as church.
What to post
Do I want my boss to see it?
If the answer is no, it is best not to post it. A good practice is to assume you are at a cocktail party and your boss is next to you. He/she may not be listening to your conversation, but then again, they just might be. Treat your online postings in the same manner.
Do I want my mom to see that picture from my vacation?
Sometimes we share content that may be humorous, or we tell a story or leave a comment. But imagine if that comment or picture was seen by your mother? Do you really want to have to explain the concept of body shots to your parents?
Can you say what you write from the pulpit?
This is a good rule for clergy. Remember your parishioners are watching, reading and digesting what you post. And while you may think your privacy settings keep people from seeing certain content, it is best to not risk that content getting out and being shared.
What You Say Follows You
The Internet has a long memory.
What you write today may come up on a Google search easily accessible by present and future employers. You are leaving an impression, an impression for your readers today, but also for the future. It is common practice, even in the church, to Google a candidate for the rector’s position and go through your timeline. Imagine the new congregation you wish to lead reading your comments and discerning whether or not they would want you.
Dealing With Comments
Not everyone is going to like what you post/share.
But deleting comments is the equivalent hanging up on a person or slamming the door shut in their face. It reflects upon you and your ministry. Sure, never feed the troll or engage with someone who is spewing hateful speech. You can delete those comments. But to delete someone’s comment who doesn’t agree with you or challenges you is not only rude, but shows a lack of understanding of social media. If it is not a behaviour you would do face to face, then don’t do it online.
There is a fine line between public and private.
But if you are using your personal account for the church in any manner, then realize you have invited people into your life and your actions can have consequences. One of those consequences is that you are representing the church when you delete, censor or silence comments you don’t like.
Alms, alms alms…it is what Lent is about. There are so many good charities in London that need assistance.
Tomorrow I will be serving at the Fellowship Centre as the Bishops are in the Cathedral blessing new oil to anoint the baptized and the dying, as is the custom on Maundy Thursday. What seems appropriate to me is that on the day that Christ washed the disciples feet to give us a model of ministry I will be in the Fellowship Centre serving.
So what better place to donate my $20 bucks today, then the place I will find myself serving tomorrow.