Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Missional Musing: Narrating the Transformation

In working with over 20 congregations over the past few years, I've been thinking a lot about why some of them experience "missional" transformation, and why others go through the process we offer and stay roughly the same. There are no doubt many factors, and none of them in and of themselves guarantee a shift in congregational imagination. Still, there are some things that seem to be predictive.

Here's one: congregations that have someone who can faithfully narrate a coherent story in the midst of the confusion of change fare better than others.

I think there are several reasons for this. Venturing a narrative with plot and characters brings a congregation closer to naming God as an actor in their midst. This is huge. The act of narrating also brings together a useable past with a promised future. If there is no narrative, then the past is simply a mistake, something to be discarded, and people need to hold on to aspects of their past to be able to imagine a habitable future. One more. A faithful narrative has to ring true. All narratives are selective, some details highlighted, others repressed. The ring of truth comes when the worst can be admitted out loud without foreclosing on the future. Hope.

This kind of work is an art. I am wondering whether it can be taught.


Doug Peters said...

I think your observation is so true. There is power in a leader articulating what has been, is and will be. That kind of articulation can truly lead to transformation. It is not always easy to be that one... but at least one is needed.

Mark Love said...


You're a great example of the kind of leader I'm talking about.