change…

another excerpt (very, very draft) from my report, building on the comments from craig and roddy below. this bit is about change.

i realise the uniting church is a unique beast, and that perhaps the issues we have with change are, also, unique. but tell me if you think i’m being too harsh… (the writing’s a little clumsy still, ignore that!)

The Project began with only two intentions: to offer opportunities for worship to those who can find no other place to worship, and to reflect on what those opportunities and experiences tell the church.

It was a deliberate decision to make the shape of the position so vague. We have often created positions for change in the church; we have normally assumed that we know what the change needs to be, and how it will best happen. The church and society is in a time of such rapid transition that we can no longer assume that we know what change needs to happen. It was decided that this position would start with a different set of assumptions: that we did not know what the new way for the church could be, but we needed to be willing to take a risk in order to find it. We had a hunch that if we let the position unfold, and were flexible enough to respond to the opportunities, that we might end up in places that we could never have predicted. As it’s turned out, we could never have anticipated where this position would get to, and the shape it would be taking now. Of course, we aren’t used to doing this kind of thing in the church. Having the freedom to try some stuff, get it wrong (which we have, often), get it right (which we also have, often) and then try some more has meant that we’ve taken risks that may never have been taken in any other style of position…

[update: last line would read better as has meant that we’ve taken risks that may never have been possible if the position had been styled another way.]

I realised quite early on that the alternative worship project was becoming a microcosm of the change that the rest of the Uniting Church was struggling with. We know we need change, and we even think we’re ready for it, but we’ve always managed by incremental change in the past. I wonder whether innovation, or transformational change has moved beyond our imagination and capacity. The Uniting Church has maybe been too generous in the past with its capacity to tweak and adapt – we’ve assumed that if we expand a little more, change our shape slightly, that we can fit everyone into the one space. By being so accommodating, perhaps we’ve lost the ability to truly innovate.