“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

From Nomads to Pilgrims

Last week I attended a presentation by Diana Butler Bass on her research and study of churches today. She sees a phenomenon happening in some churches as they emerge from the depths of almost dying to being renewed. She calls this process a journey of moving people from being Nomads to being Pilgrims.

I have read her books, so some of what she presented was not new. But at the presentation she offered a "model" using tinker toys (so funny, so good!) to describe the three-pole socio-cultural-religious movement in our country today; unpacking liberal to conservative, established church to intentional church, and modern world view to post modern world view, and how they all interconnect. This model really gave me language for understanding how some churches are dying and others are growing or re-growing through reconnecting with Christian practices and tradition in a new way. She gave me language to articulate what I have been struggling to describe for years. She helped me understand where the church I serve is stuck.

Now I am so excited. I have a way of framing what is going on and can unpack it for the people in my church. We have a way of looking at who we are and determining our future. This does not mean that the folks are going to choose to become unstuck, they may prefer to remain as they are and die a slow (or fast) death. But at least what ever they do, it will be a conscious choice.

To help folks understand this I am going to present it in small groups: first the vestry, then some select small group dinners with key leaders, then to the entire parish. Hoping to build momentum and excitement. Or maybe just a way to frame who and what we are right now.

I am also using the concepts to frame my sermons so that the ideas begin to resonant in many ways. Folks have to hear or read something 6 times before it registers....I have a lot of work to do in very little time...