This is part of my #makebetter series. Here you can read more about it.
A few weeks ago I co-led a course about building new christian congregations and pastoral startups. In the context of my job as a theologian and consultant of ecclesial, contextual and missional development strategies and vision seeking processes within a diocese of the Roman-Catholic Church I reflect a lot on these foundation and formation trials.
The weeks before I renewed my fangirldom about Simon Sinek to use it as one of the units in our course. His »Start with Why« was one of the books with the most impact on me last year and the idea behind it is challenging.
Especially for people like me, who are at some point or another in charge within the church. It seems so easy for all intents and purposes: What is our why? But really!? And what is our why — together? I love asking people these questions in church development processes and I am committed to the idea that every change in the context of this something we call church starts with a (renewed) why: From planting new churches and communities or reform, refound and regenerate existing and inherited ones. This is one of the core questions, and it is not easy to find an answer at all.
While I dived deep into Chapter 1 of the #makebetter course, I was reminded by Blaine of my very own why. What is the core of my golden circle, the heart of my own art and work and maybe of some of the parts of my life. I stress out that I hesitate to generalize projecting my reflection completely on me as a person, because I have seen a lot of people in the context of the church as an organization got broken by not reflecting from a professional distance.
Nonetheless, what is my why?
My first thoughts were quite inspired by Blaine’s very own creed, as he calls it: The world is not finished.
I pondered a lot on that and I still do. Because I felt related to it in terms of my profession as a theologian: I see that the church is not finished as well. As a Roman-Catholic theologian I have to add: This thought does not touch the discussion on perfection or any nature or quality of the church itself. Unfinished does not mean: imperfect, that is not the point. But I came to the belief that — if you want to blow up this thought even more theologically — God’s mission hasn’t ended yet. His work is still visible, sensible and responsible. He is still doing great things. There is still something going on, and the Kingdom of God is what should bring this unfinished church into perspective (see f.e. evangelii nuntiandi 8: »Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative«). Scary, and maybe too big questions touching right there, I became aware of suddenly. I just asked myself for a kind of mission statement and came up with deep and heavy theology… A typical Maria answer.
But yesterday something new emerged: In Germany an ecumenical organization is choosing a biblical verse for every year (and month etc.). This year they decided for Ezekiel 36,26: »I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you.« (MSG) This »new heart« thing really hit me right away, while I was re-reading it. I instantly connected it with the quest of my why. And somehow I brought it together with a lyric I love since I heard it for the very first time. And so it came to this…
A new heart and a wilder mind.
This is why — my why, and in some way or another my creed. Sometimes in spite of, and sometimes within an unfinished church.