One Sunday morning in September the traditional congregation at Western Link Uniting Church (Crittenden Rd., Findon South Australia) found their seating changed into a large circle.
This was an opportunity to redesign an assets mapping tool for an senior congregation. Rev Geoff Tiller and I had been in preparation for this event within the Faith in Action learning group. All came together on Sunday 29th September’s worship. We rolled out a modified asset inventory, used by by the Community Engagement Unit at Uniting Communities. We asked the forty participants to write on coloured cards their responses to some questions. The first three questions reflect the head, heart and hands.
What do you know (that you might like to teach a child)?
What do you care about?
What do you like to do?
And the last question was one of my own…
What legacy do you want to leave at this place?
Once this was complete it was my role through the readings and hymn to sort them into groups and summarise the overall messages.
I fed this material back to the whole and then asked congregation members to matched themes and consider what might they contribute. Then we provided time for the congregation to talk to the person next to them. And then we ran out of time!
Many were impressed with the experience of sitting in a circle and joining in an activity. I think we stumbled with the last steps in the process – we weren’t clear what we were going to do with the feedback from the group – and the locals had ideas but were pretty clear they weren’t going to do it themselves. There is something to learn here about the way we keep material before participants and resist the urge to say great idea which the leaders or the committee can do. The church has a very strong leadership culture where we have cultivate the worship of individuals (read specific clergy, pastors, elders) who have to sort things out. This is intrinsically unhealthy as it steals the responsibility and capacity of the whole community of faith from discerning and creating their future as people created by God.
As a whole the initiative went really well. We hosted a deep conversation amongst this group of people about their gifts and the opportunities around them.