This page is a thankful response to the recent e-mail newsletter on the CDI in the Diocese of Colorado. It's exciting to see all the good work being done by that CDI, its trainers and participants.
What follows are a set of resources connected to the newsletter. I think I was last with you in 2009. Since then you've continued your efforts as a diocese participating in Diocesan CDI. As you might expect I've continued to develop models and applications. I want to share some of those with you here. I'll be picking up on the themes from the newsletter.
Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
and a few other items
This comes with my best wishes and prayers.
Robert A. Gallagher
A dispersed Benedictine community dedicated to parish development
The members of the Order of the Ascension have all been through CDI and take a Promise of Obedience, stability, and conversion of life. You may want to consider OA membership if you think you may have a vocation combining your congregation development ministry and Benedictine spirituality.
Benedictine Spirituality and the Parish Church
Parish churches get healthier when they begin to live into their own true self. That “true self” consists of elements that are already strong and valuable. Often there are other elements that are of the larger and wider tradition that the parish has lost connection with.
Both the “warm and welcoming” parish and the Anglo Catholic parish need an appreciative strategy for what they already do well. They require an enriching strategy with lots of experiential training and hands on coaching so they might ground themselves in a more Benedictine spirituality. Affirm and build upon the particular, introduce and import the more universal and ancient. MORE
A program grounded in Benedictine spirituality Caesura explores ways to reducing the amount and degree of conflict in congregations while also promoting healthier relationships.
There will always be grumbling in the parish. Always.
I suspect that the reason Saint Benedict wrote so much about grumbling was because there was so much of it in the monastic community. I doubt Benedict ever believed it would stop. I do think he had a few useful ideas about how to contain it and reduce the damage it did. He also seemed to know how to harness the energy of it for the well being of the community. Some containing and a lot of harnessing of energy might be useful for our parish churches.
Is it really necessary for those in the parish of Apostolic faith and practice, and those progressing toward that, to go outside the parish for food? When that happens our parishes lose something of the grounding these people can provide for parish life.
Whenever anything important is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call the whole community together and explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the brothers, let him ponder it and follow what he judges the wiser course. (Rule of Saint Benedict Chapter 3:1-2) I’m assuming that our parish churches would benefit if the rector and vestry did more face-to-face consultation with the whole community?
Our need is to keep conflicts at low levels. We want the tensions to be at levels that permit the parish to better generate and harness productive energy arising from the parish’s hopes, expectations, new ideas and existing challenges. This involves helping leaders establish processes, structures and a climate that allow these normal and inevitable sources of tension and energy to enrich the life and ministry of the parish instead of moving into depression or destructive conflict.
Don’t go on the attack. Don’t get pissy with the other person. Allow your feelings to be what they are and manage them. Put a guard on your tongue. Pray for the person offending you. Forgive before they ask for forgiveness. Don’t seek apologies before being willing to let go. Better yet, don't seek apologies. Find the lightness in yourself. Above all pause. And then pause again.
Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
This is an exploration of the map of spiritual life that Henri Nouwen offers in Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Along with the Benedictine Promise his three movements of the spiritual life is one of the most useful resources for understanding and assessing the spiritual dynamics of a parish church as well as in the life of individual baptized person.
The pages are reflections on Nouwen's model as it relates to parish development. The pages also include handouts you might find useful for educational purposes.
These reflections are about the role of leadership in the development of one parish and a transition in leadership.
And a reflection on Two Misleading Mental Models of Leadership
In Your Holy Spirit
This model had its start at a Colorado CDI. It had been sitting in the back of my head for a few days and I decided to share it with the group. It received as strong a positive response as I've ever experienced. That lead to a couple of books based on the model.
In Your Holy Spirit: Shaping the Parish through Spiritual Practice , Robert Gallagher
Michelle's book was the One Book - One Diocese selection for Advent & Lent in 2011-12. It's been used in many parishes as a five session introduction to Anglican spirituality. Here's the educational design.
Understanding From Within
Earlier this year Michelle Heyne and I were asked by the editor of the OD Practitioner, the journal of the Organization Development Network to write an article about working with religious systems. It was an interesting task. How to offer something that a largely secular audience would find understandable and maybe even interesting. This provides a link to the article.