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Belonging presentation


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Belonging presentation

  1. 1. The Most Precious Thing: Creating a Sense of Belonging in Your Congregation OMD Summer Institute    July 11-15 Kenyon College, Gambier, OH
  2. 2. <ul><li>John O”Donohue, Irish Philosopher: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The hunger to belong is at the heart of our nature. Cut off from others, we atrophy and turn in on ourselves. Merely to be excluded or to sense rejection hurts. When we become isolated, we are prone to being damaged; our minds lose their flexibility and natural kindness. We become vulnerable to fear and negativity. </li></ul><ul><li>A sense of belonging, however, suggests warmth, understanding, embrace. The ancient and eternal values of human life - truth, unity, goodness, justice, beauty and love - are all statements of true belonging.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>“ Our hunger to belong is the longing to bridge the gulf that exists between isolation and intimacy. Distance awakens longing; closeness is belonging. Everyone longs for intimacy and dreams of a nest of belonging in which one is embraced, seen and loved. Something within each of us cries out for belonging. </li></ul><ul><li>We can have all the world has to offer in terms of status, achievement and possession, yet without a true sense of belonging, our lives feel empty and pointless. Like the tree that puts roots deep into the clay, each of us needs the anchor of belonging in order to bend with the storms and continue toward the light.&quot; </li></ul>
  4. 4. To belong is to be related to and a part of something. It is membership, the experience of being at home in the broadest sense of the phrase. To belong is to know, even in the middle of the night, that I am among friends.
  5. 5. Belonging can also be thought of as a longing to be. Being is our capacity to find our deeper purpose in all that we do. It is the capacity to be present and to discover our authenticity and whole selves. Community is the container within which our longing to be is fulfilled. Without the connectedness of a community, we will continue to choose not to be.
  6. 6. The Elements of Community <ul><li>Invite people who are not used to being together </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on possibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Act as if you are creating what exists in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Allow room for dissent </li></ul><ul><li>Define members of the community by their gifts and talents rather than by their needs and deficiencies </li></ul><ul><li>Create community by focusing on the structure of how we gather and the context in which those gatherings take place </li></ul>
  7. 7. Powerful questions are those that evoke a choice for accountability and commitment. Questions that have the power to make a difference are ones that engage people in an intimate way, confront them with their freedom, and invite them to co-create a future possibility. Powerful questions are the ones that cause you to become an actor as soon as you answer them. You no longer have the luxury of being a spectator of whatever it is you are concerned about.
  8. 8. <ul><li>Questions with Little Power </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get people to serve on the Board? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get people to accept the move to two services? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get people to pledge more money? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we get more people to attend congregational meetings? </li></ul><ul><li>Powerful Questions </li></ul><ul><li>What gifts do you hold that you are willing to bring to this congregation? </li></ul><ul><li>What are you willing to give up in order to move forward? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the commitment that you bring to this congregation? </li></ul><ul><li>How valuable do you want this congregational experience to be? </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Powerful questions give us the means to initiate a community where accountability and commitment are ingrained. In so doing, we also create a sense of belonging. </li></ul><ul><li>These questions lead to conversations that are central to a transformative and inclusive community and include the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Inviting rather than mandating </li></ul><ul><li>Focusing on what is possible </li></ul><ul><li>Creating ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Ensuring commitments without bartering </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledging the gifts of each person and the community </li></ul>
  11. 11. It begins with the invitation <ul><li>Invitation is the means through which hospitality and belonging are created. It is an act of generosity; a call to create an alternative future, to join in the possibility that we have declared. </li></ul><ul><li>In an authentic community, members decide anew every single time whether to show up. If they do not choose to show up, there are no consequences. They are always welcome. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Invitation is not only a step in bringing people together. It is also a fundamental way of being in community. </li></ul><ul><li>Genuine invitation changes our relationship with others, for we come to them as an equal. I must be willing to take no for an answer, without resorting to various forms of persuasion. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Making the Invitation <ul><li>Name the Possibility </li></ul><ul><li>The invitation is activated by the possibility we are committed to. The possibility is the future that the convener is committed to. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: the possibility of a congregation that is vital, healthy and thriving. </li></ul><ul><li>Frame the Choice </li></ul><ul><li>The invitation must allow room for a no. We need to be clear that we will not initiate consequences for not attending and that we respect someone’s decision not to attend. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Name the Hurdle </li></ul><ul><li>The invitation is not only an invitation to show up, but to engage. We need to tell people explicitly what is expected of them should they choose to attend. </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforce the request </li></ul><ul><li>End the invitation by telling people that you want them to come and that if they choose not to attend, they will be missed but not forgotten. </li></ul><ul><li>Make it personal </li></ul><ul><li>A visit is more personal than a call; a call is more personal than a letter; a letter is more personal than an email. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Conversation One: Possibility <ul><li>Possibility is not a goal or prediction; it is the statement of a future condition that is beyond reach. </li></ul><ul><li>It is an act of imagination of what we can create together and it takes the form of a declaration, best made publicly. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li> Possibility lives into the future </li></ul><ul><li>while problem solving makes </li></ul><ul><li>improvements on the past. </li></ul><ul><li> The future is created through a </li></ul><ul><li>declaration of what is the possibility we </li></ul><ul><li>stand for. </li></ul><ul><li>Think of an issue that is prevalent in your congregation today. Frame it not as a problem to be solved, but as a possibility that we can live in to. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Questions for the Possibility Conversation <ul><li>What is the crossroads where you find yourself at this stage of your life or work or in the project around which we are assembled? </li></ul><ul><li>What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we want to create together that would make the difference? </li></ul><ul><li>What can we create together that we cannot create alone? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conversation Two: Ownership The ownership conversation asks us to act as if we are creating what exists in the world. This requires that we believe in the possibility that our congregation is mine or ours to create. It stems from the belief that each of us is cause not effect.
  19. 19. <ul><li>We have to realize that each time people enter a room, they walk in with ambivalence, wondering whether this is the right place to be. This is because they believe that someone else owns the room. </li></ul>Accountability is the willingness to acknowledge that we have participated in creating…the conditions that we wish to see changed. Community will be created the moment we decide to act as creators of what it can become. The question we need to ask ourselves, and ask others, is… “ How I have contributed to creating the current reality?”
  20. 20. Questions for the Ownership Conversation <ul><li>Four early questions: </li></ul><ul><li>How valuable an experience do you plan for this to be? </li></ul><ul><li>How much risk are you willing to take? </li></ul><ul><li>How participative do you plan to be? </li></ul><ul><li>To what extent are you invested in the well-being of the whole? </li></ul><ul><li>The guilt question: </li></ul><ul><li>What have I done to contribute to the very thing I complain about or want to change? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>The story questions: </li></ul><ul><li>What is the (limiting) story about this congregation that you hear yourself most often telling? The one that you are wedded to and maybe even take your identity from? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the payoffs you receive from holding on to this story? </li></ul><ul><li>What is your attachment to this story costing you? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Conversation Three: Dissent <ul><li>Creating space for dissent is the way diversity gets valued in the world. </li></ul><ul><li>Inviting dissent into the conversation is how we show respect for a wide range of beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. </li></ul><ul><li>Neils Bohr </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>The act of surfacing doubts and dissent does not deflect the communal intention to create something new. </li></ul><ul><li>When we think we have to answer people’s doubts and defend ourselves, then the space for dissent closes down. </li></ul><ul><li>All we have to do with the doubts of others is to get interested in them. How? By listening. </li></ul><ul><li>Listening is the action step that replaces defending ourselves. Listening, understanding at a deeper level than is being expressed, is the action that restores community and a sense of belonging. </li></ul>
  24. 24. A Word (or two) about Listening <ul><li>A wise old owl sat on an oak; </li></ul><ul><li>The more he saw, the less he spoke; </li></ul><ul><li>The less he spoke, the more he heard; </li></ul><ul><li>Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?” </li></ul><ul><li>To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation. </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Proverb </li></ul>
  26. 26. Deep Listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand. Sue Patton Thoele Hearing people’s words is only the beginning. Do you also hear their fears? Their intentions? Their aspirations? When you start to hear at a deeper level,… people will know that you care about them and they will eagerly commit to you. Keven Cashman
  27. 27. <ul><li>Authentic dissent is NOT: </li></ul><ul><li>Denial…which means we act as if the present is good enough. </li></ul><ul><li>Rebellion…which most often is not a call for transformation or a new context, but simply a complaint that others control the “world” and not us. </li></ul><ul><li>Resignation…which is the ultimate act of powerlessness and a stance against possibility. It is resigning from the future and embracing the past. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Questions for the Dissent Conversation <ul><li>What doubts and reservations do you have? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the no, or refusal, that you keep postponing? </li></ul><ul><li>What have you said yes to, that you no longer really mean? </li></ul><ul><li>What is a commitment or decision that you have changed your mind about? </li></ul><ul><li>What forgiveness are you withholding? </li></ul><ul><li>What resentment do you hold that no one knows about? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Conversation Four: Commitment Commitment is a promise made with no expectation of return. It is the willingness to make a promise independent of either approval or reciprocity from other people. Lip service is the enemy of commitment. The future does not die from opposition. It disappears in the face of lip service.
  30. 30. Questions for the Commitment Conversation <ul><li>What promises am I willing to make? </li></ul><ul><li>What price am I willing to pay? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the cost to others for me to keep my commitments, or to fail in my commitments? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the promise I am willing to make that constitutes a risk or major shift for me? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the promise I am postponing? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the promise or commitment I am unwilling to make? </li></ul>
  31. 31. Conversation Five: Gifts We are not defined by deficiencies or what is missing. We are defined by our gifts and what is present. Belonging occurs when we tell others what gift we receive from them…when this occurs, in the presence of others, community is built. We embrace our own destiny when we have the courage to acknowledge our own gifts and choose to bring them into the world.
  32. 32. This exercise gets a little sticky  <ul><li>Acknowledge the gifts that others have given you by answering one (or a combination) of the following questions: </li></ul><ul><li>What gift have you received from another in this room? </li></ul><ul><li>What has someone in this gathering done this week that has touched you or moved you or been of value to you? </li></ul><ul><li>In what way did a particular person engage you in a way that had meaning? </li></ul>
  33. 33. Questions for the Gifts Conversation <ul><li>What is the gift you currently hold in exile? </li></ul><ul><li>What is it about you that no one knows about? </li></ul><ul><li>What are you grateful for that has gone unspoken? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the positive feedback you receive that still surprises you? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the gift you have that you do not fully acknowledge? </li></ul>
  34. 34. Space: The Final Frontier <ul><li>Community is built when we sit in circles, when there are windows and the walls have signs of life, when every voice can be equally heard and amplified, when we are all on one level, and the chairs have wheels and swivels. </li></ul><ul><li>The way we occupy the room can meet our intention to build relatedness, accountability and commitment. </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>Sit in chairs in a circle with no tables. </li></ul><ul><li>Put the chairs as close together as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Meet in a room that has windows. </li></ul><ul><li>Leave the door to the meeting room open. </li></ul><ul><li>Put life on the walls. </li></ul>Wait a minute! Without tables, how do I take notes? Won’t the windows distract me from what we’re talking about? If we leave the door open, anyone might walk in.
  36. 36. Putting it All Together <ul><li>What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you? </li></ul><ul><li>How participative do you plan to be? </li></ul><ul><li>What doubts and reservations do you have? </li></ul><ul><li>What promises am you willing to make? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the gift you currently hold in exile? </li></ul>
  37. 37. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.  George Bernard Shaw