Posts Tagged “change”

Who else needs your space?

My churches hosting co-working revelation got me thinking…

Church halls have often been a hive of activity with anything from Boys’ Brigade to dance classes and slimming clubs.

That’s all good.

But who are you missing?

How can you help your community to engage with each other and make things better?  How could your church support community projects and create and nurture community at the same time?

Detroit SOUP – image by Dave Lewinski



Detroit SOUP inspires me.  Why? Because it’s easy and effective.

Here’s what SOUP say about SOUP:

SOUP is:

Detroit SOUP is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a donation $5 attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear from four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

Perhaps it’s easier to watch what happens:

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So, could you do something like SOUP in your church hall?

I think you could.

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UP is a brilliant film.  It’s funny, touching and insightful.

Carl floats off in his house to avoid being sent to live in a nursing home.  He promised his late wife that they would live at Paradise Falls and he tries so hard to make that happen.

What he doesn’t see along the way is that things change.  His responsibilities change.  His context changes.  But his outlook doesn’t.

He made a promise.  He has a goal and he’s going to reach it, no matter what!

There comes a point that Carl realises that he is literally tied to his past and that it is time to let it go.  By letting the house go he isn’t letting go of his love or his memories or his past.  It’s just a house.

It’s not hard to see why Carl wants to keep his house.  It’s full of memories of his wife whom he loved dearly.

It made me think of how much we all have problems with change, especially when it means letting go of the things that remind us most of the people and times that have been so special to us.

But things aren’t the memories.  They aren’t the people or the relationships we cherrished.  They are just things.

Sometimes we can only move on to a new adventure when we let them go.  But that’s hard.

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Last night I was at an open evening at my kid’s primary school.  Their work was on display and I was finding out what the ‘not much’ and ‘nothing’ they do all day is.

Two things struck me.  The first that there seems to be little room for initiative.  I mean real initiative beyond using a  different colour for something.  Castles, islands, knights, maps… all slightly different but essentially the same.

You get good marks for meeting the set criteria.

Seth Godin talks about this:

Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.

Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom. It’s difficult to brag about in a school board meeting. And it’s a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.

Schools like teaching compliance. They’re pretty good at it.

On the wall in each class was a chart asking parents the elements they think should be present to make the school a successful learning environment.

It was an interesting list and I wish I had taken a quick photo of it.  Coherent curriculum, rewarding success, respect, justice….

and also creativity, transferring skills, initiative…

I put my stars there.  But I was almost the only one.  Most parents preferred compliance.

I wonder if church is the same?

‘That’s not how we do that’  ‘That’s so-and-so’s job’  ‘We tried that once and it didn’t work’  ‘This is what the parable means’

Are we teaching compliance?  It is easier after all.

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Sorry I’ve not posted for a while.  If I were being graded I might get a ‘could do better’.

But then ‘could do better’ is an odd thing to say because we can always do better.  What it really means is ‘I think you’re not trying hard enough’ or ‘you haven’t lived up to my expectations of you’ (even though you might not know what those expectations are).

Success in the world of church is a strange and often unquantifiable thing.  Does more people mean success?  How about more money?  More activities?

Sometimes all of those things are indicators of success, but sometimes none of them are.

So, before you tell someone they ‘could do better’, even in your head, perhaps you should ask yourself what better is, and for who.

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Today was a good day.  I was at Priesthill URC in Glasgow.  Priesthill is one of Glasgow’s most deprived areas and is in the midst of a bout of regeneration.  In the middle of the scheme is the church.

Priesthill URC

As you can see, the church is in very poor condition.  Inside it is damp because of the concrete walls and flat roof.

Today was a good day because I got to share some dreams with the 10 ladies who worship here.  I preached about Nicodemus and Abram, two men who were not scared to take a risk of faith.  The congregation here are about to begin a redevelopment programme which will  result in this building being knocked down and a new building and affordable homes being built in its place.   I’ll hopefully be involved in this project and will try to keep  you up to date with our progress.  It’s such an exciting time for people who have struggled valiantly to keep their church alive and working against all the odds.  This isn’t just a dream for 10 people on a Sunday.  There is a huge Girl’s Brigade company here with over 60 girls meeting every week.  This place is at the heart of the community and they deserve better.  I’m really excited about the future here.

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