Posts Tagged “work”

I came across an article about church as a space for co-working yesterday.

It was one of those moments when you think that something is so obvious you can’t believe everyone isn’t already doing it!

We know that working patterns have changed.  Loads of people work from home now.  That’s great.  You don’t have to commute.  You can work in your pjs, listen to whatever music you like as loud as you want, video conference, email, work hours to suit your life… Home working has lots of upside, but it can also be a lonely existence.

That’s why you see so many people camped out in coffee shops with their MacBooks.  They are looking for company.  The presence of other human beings.  And cake.

nomad worker http://www.travelandworkonline.com

But we also know that being with others is a creative way to work.  Those conversations where people ask what you’re working on and then add some insight or suggest a contact that could help, or suggest working together on something…

So, why doesn’t your church create a space for these nomadic workers?

You have a hall that probably doesn’t get used much during the day.

You have tables and chairs.

You have a kitchen and toilets.

All you need is some good, reliable wifi, power sockets, a wifi printer and someone to be around to welcome people and put the kettle on and make a decent cup of coffee.  Stick in some whiteboards and plants and you have just created co-working nirvana.

It’s like a constant coffee morning for people with jobs.  And they will pay to use your space.

I’m not suggesting you become a start up incubator, yet, just a nice friendly place with space and a welcome.

There are some great examples of churches who are already doing it…

St Lydia’s in Brooklyn is my favourite.  They do dinner church so they were already half way there.

Sy Lydia’s Co-working

So, what’s stopping your church from being a space for co-working?

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Steve Jobs 1955-2011

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Whose expectations are you trying to meet?  And why?

People have expectations of us.  At work our boss, our colleagues, our constituents, congregations or customers all have lots of expectations of us, each one as different as they are.

Who sets these expectations and who decides when and if you have met or exceeded them?

I find that often in my work that people don’t know what to expect of me, or that their expectations of what I will do with them are very different to what I think they need.

That might mean that they are disappointed because they didn’t get what they wanted or expected.

Is that a good thing?

Or should our jobs be about meeting people’s expectations?

What room does that leave for creativity, prophecy and vision?

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Seth Godin is shocked.

I was talking to a religious leader, someone who runs a congregation. She made it clear to me that on many days, it’s just a job. A job like any other, you show up, you go through the motions, you get paid.

I guess we find this disturbing because spiritual work should be real, not faked.

I was interested in his perception of religious work because his remarks seem to focus totally on the ‘spiritual’ and not on the ‘work’.

I’m reading Seth’s new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? where he seems to be suggesting that with hard work we can all become the kind of people who create and add value.  He says that we can’t and won’t be a creative genius all day but that the 5 minutes that we are makes a huge difference.  Why should ministry be different?

In his brilliant book Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith Mike Yaconelli tell a story of a preacher he met who was counting the days to retirement, like counting telegraph poles along a long road.  This minister was fed up, tired, drained and burned out.

I’ve met many people who feel like that some days.  I’ve felt like that.  Often.

Spiritual work is hard word.  Some days it feels very much like work, mostly because it IS spiritual work and you feel the pressure to inspire people, to lead and to bring them into the presence of God.

Some days you turn up and go through the motions because it’s work… and we are human.

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In part 1 I suggested that the church is full of ‘bored adults’, a product of the phenomena of  having once been ‘teenagers’.

Principles and Values

Youth Work is based on some principles.  Different places have different core principles or core values.  In Scotland the core values outlined by Community Education Validation and Endorsement (CeVe) are:

  • Respects the individual and the right to self-determination;
  • Respects and values pluralism;
  • Values equality and develops anti-discriminatory practice;
  • Encourages collective action and collaborative working relationships;
  • Promotes learning as a lifelong process;
  • Encourages a participating democracy.

Of course these values apply to the full range of community work activity but within that they cover youth work.  I’d like to suggest that if we were to try to write a similar list of core values for the Emerging Church the list would not be very different.

The Emerging Church seems to me to be:

  • respecting of the individual, placing strong emphasis on our own story or faith journey
  • and the right to draw from different traditions and experiences to form our future
  • based in a theology which values all and challenges inequality
  • all about working together in all kinds of ways
  • engaging people in worship, projects and experiences that are steeped in learning
  • centred on people being involved in the life of the community

I wonder if these values that Emerging Churches seem to display are at least partly a product of the people driving new forms of church having been involved in youth work, either as young people or as leaders?

Youth Work and the Emerging Church seem to share a value base.  Is that coincidence?  I don’t think so.

People, these ‘bored adults’, have in many cases had a good experience of church as young people.  They have been encouraged to participate, to learn, to value and respect each other and to be responsible for planning and delivering their own activities.  Imagine their shock when they are faced with ‘church’.  Sit there, be quiet and listen…

Is it any wonder that people are seeking out ‘new’ ways to be church?  But then I suspect that many of these ‘new’ ways aren’t new at all… they were born in youth work.

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I spent a couple of days in one of my favourite places in the world, St Andrews, this week with a small group of youth workers discovering a bit about myself.  That’s not the kind of thing I’m usually that keen on but I’m really glad that rather than spending the two days of ‘Integrate’ listening people telling us about youth work Dorothy Neilson helped us to listen to ourselves and to God.

enneagram

Dorothy led us through the Enneagram, a tool which helps you discover your ‘personality type’.  I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to these kind of things but I have to say I liked the Enneagram.  It made sense to me.  It has given me lots to think about and lots to work on.

I’m sure a lot of that had to do with both Dorothy’s open and relaxed style and with the other people in the group being prepared to be open and give it a go.

So, what did I discover?  Well, I’m a FIVE.

If you want to know what that means then for starters you could have a look at this free e-book by Mark McGuinness which introduces the enneagram or get in touch with Dorothy and have her come talk to you or your team.

In the meantime… have a look the enneagram and see if you can discover some stuff about you.


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I’m at the URC’s Windermere Centre in, well, Windermere for the next couple of days to help people play around with their WordPress sites.

So, got any great tips for making the most of a WordPress site?  Share with the group… please.

I’ll blog a bit about what we’re up to and any hints and tips I come across on the URConnected page so keep checking there if you’re interested.

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