Our congregation has committed to engage in workshops once a month that help us think about the ways to be a healthy church that is for proclaiming the love of Jesus to all the world. At workshop #1, we learned about making "I statements", about how congregations are connected in emotional systems, how we affect one another, and how anxiety is spread throughout the system.
Two Hours of Time
White Board/Chart Paper and Markers
Creating a Healthier Church by Ronald W. Richardson, Ch. 4-6
Everyone chose a marble from a container, and then we went around the circle of 12 people. Each person shared how they thought that marble represented them. We found out that everyone used different words to describe their marbles, even when they appeared the same way to the eye. Words like: maybe some will think this is ugly, but I think it’s beautiful, pretty, pitted, different, sparkly, textured, interesting, iridescent, see-through, gold, yellow, clear, opaque. This became a helpful discussion about perception, and the multiple ways one might describe the same thing.
Part one: Bible
We worked with Acts 4:32-5:11 and noticed some things about the text. We noticed that God doesn’t kill Ananias, but that he just falls dead. Maybe from grief? Maybe from shame? How does it hurt us when we can’t live in community well? Does living in community mean giving up everything we have? We didn’t have any good answers; however, it was interesting to sit with a group of congregation members and interrogate a Bible story about togetherness and separation. If nothing else, this story highlights how hard it is to live in community, and gives us motivation for learning to do it well.
As people said what they noticed about the story, their answers were: fell down and died, great fear, none had any need, alarmed, power, lied to God, [guilt/shame/shock]
Part Two: Life Forces
Part THree: Tug Of War
Four volunteers demonstrated the close/distant dynamic with jump ropes. They also included the pursuer/distancer dynamic. People tried to put others closer, while others tried to pull away. For example, see below:
A: Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in a week, how are you? When we can get together?
B: Ummm, I’m not sure. I’ve been really busy lately.
A: Let’s have dinner tonight!
B: I can’t, I have family coming over.
A: How about Monday? Or Tuesday?
B: [Drops her end of jump rope and leaves conversation.]
A: Hey, welcome to our church! I’m glad you came today. How are you? Would you like to get together for dinner soon?
B: I’m not ready for that, could we meet for coffee instead?
[They stay connected by the rope, AND respected one another’s boundaries.]
Pastor Jess is all about sharing the life-saving love of Jesus with the world. How she does it is up to the Holy Spirit.
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This work is licensed by Rev. Jessica A. Harren under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.