Category Archives: community development

Every Monday Matters

no-cat

As we begin this new year, many of us are making resolutions. And here, on January 7, my guess is that many of us have already broken those resolutions. There are any number of reasons why we’ve already given up – lack of discipline, lack of motivation, abundance of distractions and temptations. However, there is a simple component which, when missing, makes room for all these other roadblocks…and, when present, levels the field tremendously.

So very often, for whatever reason, we make our resolutions in isolation rather than in community. We may tell others what we “want” to do and hope that the accountability will keep us on track. But the kicker is, we don’t really expect to do well…and the prospect of having to tell others we didn’t follow through simply isn’t that much of a motivator.

There’s a reason “strength in numbers” is a saying we all know. Whether we’re talking new year’s resolutions, a Rule of Life, or walking through the woods at night, stuff just works out better when there is someone(s) else along for the journey.

The accountability structure, where we tell others what we’re going to do so that they can later check-up on our progress, tries to distill the benefit of community for use in our hyper-individual society…without having to actually do things together. It is better than nothing, but pales in comparison to actual shared experience. Accountability is often based on fear – fear of looking like a failure, fear of breaking faith, fear of mutually agreed upon consequences. And that can be effective. To a certain degree.

But the actual shared experience is different. It isn’t about avoiding, it is about embracing. Avoiding fear and consequences becomes embracing hope and adventure.

To be sure, in situations where shared experience isn’t possible, we’re certainly better off having others who can at least encourage us in word, if not deed. In coaching, my primary task is to help the client determine their goals, form a plan with concrete action steps, and then evaluate the effectiveness after the fact. It isn’t my job to make people feel guilty when they don’t follow through. It IS my job to help them understand why they didn’t and address the barriers. Often what we determine is that, for whatever reason, they just aren’t going to complete this task on their own. “Should” and “ought” are pointless when combined with “but don’t.” In that case there are a couple logical responses.

The first is the goal isn’t really that important. Perhaps in this case, what they “should” do is stop stressing about it and move on. Of course, we often resist this option. But here’s the deal – if we aren’t going to complete this task, the consequences will be the same whether it remains on our “to do” list or not. So we have to ask, how important is this task? Is the stress of an incomplete task greater than the actual consequence of not completing?

Many times the stuff we’re stressing over isn’t that important. Letting it go can open the door to more effectiveness in other areas – and often we’ll find ourselves circling back to this issue down the road.

But when the goal is important, and we realize we are not going to get it done on our own, then it makes sense to find someone to work with us. Maybe its asking a spouse, sibling, coworker, neighbor or group of friends to join us. Or it could mean hiring an assistant, consultant or contractor.

I didn’t make any individual resolutions this year. I’m not very good with them and I decided to pass on the personal guilt trip this time around the sun. However, Rachel came across this book, Every Monday Matters. The book is part of a growing movement of people choosing to reclaim the least desirable day of the week as a time for shared experience and positive change. Check out the introductory video below.

So yesterday The Gathering decided that we would take up this challenge together as families. We won’t all do the activities together as a large group – the basic unit of “we” in this shared experience is the household. However, we’ll discuss our activities as a community, encourage one another and from time-to-time orchestrate larger joint efforts.

I encourage you and your family to join us. You can order a print copy of the book HERE or download the Kindle version HERE. Check out the EMM facebook page and website for updates.

If you’d like to join The Gathering in participating and discussing, just use the “contact us” form in the right hand column and put Every Monday Matters in the comments section. We’ll send out reminders each Monday and provide opportunities to dialog about experiences and team up for group activities. We’d love to have you join us.

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The Traveling Companion: episode 6

I just started my next to last class for my D.Min at Perkins – Spiritual Leadership in Missional Churches. One of our assignments is to keep a journal during the 2 weeks of class. I decided to blog mine…
Today was a good day…
I went on a field trip.
Its been a while, and in some ways it was reminiscent of my days of youth ministry (which are mostly positive memories!) All but one person in our class piled into a suburban to head out on a tour of some tremendous missional community development endeavors around Dallas. The remaining classmate followed behind in her car…well she tried to follow anyway. We didn’t exactly follow a logical path all the time, but that’s how journeys are, right?
Though I was terrified for everyone’s safety (yes, dear reader, even yours) at several points riding down I-35 with the Reverend James (just kidding…but seriously), it was good to have those brief moments of connection that inevitably accompany a road-trip – even a brief one.
Parts of the field trip made me a little sad – specifically I began missing the relational connections that we were forming with the community lunches we shared with Harvest House. But then I began thinking about the great things that are happening in Shenandoah – great things that we were blessed to play an early role in, but which have now taken off and flourished as a locally led and driven phenomenon.
I enjoyed seeing places like the Romero House and Christ Foundry – sacred places that I have heard about in stories but wanted to see with my own eyes. I have great hope and anticipation for the development of greater collaboration between our two movements.
But the really exciting part of the day for me were the conversations with new friends who are beginning to passionately explore ways in which the missional life can infect their own established church contexts (sorry Marci, I know you don’t like the virus language, but I find it incredibly appropriate!)
I listened as leaders began to adapt and even start over in their project proposal to incorporate the kingdom focused values we’ve been discussing. I hope and pray that under their leadership these bands of Christ’s disciples will witness radical transformation in their lives and in their neighborhoods and communities. I pray that God will bring them into contact with the spiritually confused sojourners that have been longing for someone walk alongside them in their search for meaning and significance. I beg our Father to throw open the floodgates of the kingdom and allow a fresh experience of vitality to sweep through the streets of their hometowns.
And I pray the same for ours.
Perhaps this is the most significant development in my own spiritual formation to date. I found myself just as excited – and in some ways, even more so – about what God may be planning to do in these other communities as I am for what I know is happening and will happen in our own.
Today I quote with hope and joy the lines from psalm 70, which have often been my cry of despair…O Lord come quickly to help us!
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