my friend Sue rang on Saturday night to see how the nosh went. To every bit of my analysis (which was thorough, precise, and entirely skewed by exhaustion), she responded by saying “but you could never do that at the first nosh… you needed to have a nosh like you had to now be able to have the nosh you want to have.”
It was a good few days. i remember 4 or 5 points where i thought ‘it was worth it just for this conversation / moment / space’. And it was. The group of people who came were fantastic. It was such a privilege to be in their company for three days, to hear stories, to be challenged, to see some of the stuff they’ve done, to create stuff together. It was rich and blessed. So these reflections – fairly random and incomplete – aren’t regrets, or even things I’d change (though there are plenty of those). They’re more some reminders for what is possible next.
We really needed an extra day – it would have made the world of difference. We couldn’t have added an extra day to this first one – it would have made it too much of a financial and time risk for many people to be able to come to an unstructured conference. Now that people know the kind of event it is, and can trust it to a certain extent, that will be less of an issue.
We needed the extra day to move beyond having conversations, and to begin to actually do stuff. We talked a lot about worship, but never actually created worship… there are a number of reasons – some very valid – why that happened. [i don’t know if this is connected at all but i remembered today how when I first began this position I was surprised by how reluctant people are to move from observation to participation in worship… i’m not saying that this was the same, but it did feel like a similar kind of hesitation.]
I think i’d have everyone involved in planning worship for the event at some point during it, rather than leaving it up to a few people. There were some unexpected complications in all of that, which has probably disappointed me more than anything else. We need to think more about how to make all of that safer.
Next time I’d bring in professional artists to run some ‘how to’ stuff. It would be pure self indulgence…
In terms of my own sanity, I’d make sure there were a few more small-picture people on the planning team, rather than it all being big-picture people. I had to turn into a small-picture person, and it’s never pretty when i have to do that!
I realised again that it’s really hard to move out of a culture of having stuff done for you, to a culture where we take responsibility for making things happen. I’m going to have intentional conversations with people who run these kinds of events all the time, to ask how to build that kind of culture.
That’s what I’d change for the next nosh. This is what I hope continues…
The space for storytelling around the table (i loved hearing sarah’s story about the jazz church, and having that quick conversation with Adele about her women’s group. left me wishing for more.)
The depth of conversation (i loved the conversation with (the other) sarah and dave, and another conversation with Richard Harris – beginning to articulate the philosophy behind what i do, and the questions that are shaping it, is so important for me. and i’m always reduced to humble-ness in the presence of these people – their passion, commitment and genuine-ness).
Bringing in someone whose thinking is in a very different place to ours – i loved hearing more about Steve’s thinking on third spaces. I’m itching to do that here. It’s so good to hear concepts and language that makes me think way outside my context and box.
I’d have Craig cooking again. I’ve found a source for pomegranate molasses…
Thanks to all those people who made stuff happen – especially to craig and darren who planned the event alongside me. And thanks to Sam, whose unflappable presence in the kitchen made the event work (the fact that people won’t realise that is half the reason why…).
The following is a list of websites for those who attended. Not everyone who came has a website – i’m going to contact some of those who don’t to ask whether they’d write up a bit of what they’re doing for me to put up here, just so the stories get out there. There’s such good stuff happening…