What a month October has been for leadership formation in NT-NL. We kicked off our online series on October 21 focused on various aspects of leadership in the church. Our first session was a great success with leaders from around the country zooming in to join Synod VP Tom Blaney and myself. Technical difficulties hit us on October 28th but please register for our session Nov 4th which will pick up the conversation about lay leadership on council and the executive team.
From Oct 18-20th our first ever hybrid Leadership Convocation challenged us to think about how we have been changed in this season and how we can be intentional about learning and growing further. To do the work of engaging and listening to our neighbors and then crafting experiments to test new ideas and opportunities. As our in-person presenter reminded us trying new things doesn’t immediately mean we quit doing what we have been. And two weeks out I pray that many of us have taken on the challenge of intentionally having a real, listening, conversation with 5 people not directly in our faith/family group.
Taking on that challenge was tough. Our conversation circles are often limited. In my own intentionality around this I will confess I didn’t get to five conversations. But I did have three and in those conversations I learned many of their concerns are my concerns. We worry about economics, our families, the future, our divided political and cultural world, and wonder where common ground can be found. This was encouraging, to know that I was not alone, and neither were they, in these concerns.
However, what I also learned again was that my language for addressing those concerns is conditioned heavily by my life as a church leader. Even something as seemingly benign as “peace be with you” can mean very different things to someone not used to that language. Whose peace are we talking about? World peace? Personal peace? Is this a promise? Or a far off hope?
I believe our Lutheran faith has a word for today. As we celebrated Reformation Sunday we were reminded that our tradition came about because Martin Luther wanted the people to hear clearly the gospel message. That God is for them. And I think that word is needed today. In a world which continually tells us we don’t measure up God’s word of peace and promise can bring comfort and clarity. But to communicate this message we must listen first to our neighbor. To not answer questions they aren’t asking, to speak in a language they can understand.
There is no easy answer for this. But by taking on the challenge to listen. To ask “what keeps you up at night?” gets us started on the way.
In God’s abundance grace,