Expanding the dream for The Grove Dallas

The Grove, Dallas is a new kind of social space, dedicated to promoting human flourishing through entrepreneurial innovation and collaboration in the heart of the city. Because of the immense need and opportunity, we are expanding, and we are inviting you to join with us. Click on the image below to learn more about the Grove Expansion campaign. The Grove Expansion Campaign

I’d love to share more with you about The Grove, and what socially conscious coworking can do to enhance your work and remake your community.

Exploring the bounds of truth

May God give us strength…

“There is no class of people upon earth who can less afford to let the development of truth run ahead of them than you. You cannot wrap yourselves in professional mystery…you cannot go back and become apostles of the dead past, driveling after ceremonies, and letting the world do the thinking and studying. There must be a new spirit infused into the ministry….We must be more industrious in investigation, more honest in dedication, and more willing to take the truth in its new fullness.” Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Yale, 1871. (Niebuhr, Williams, Ahlstrom 1980, 257-8)

Interesting how the arguments of our own day often mirror those of earlier ages – in this case the period between 1860 and 1900. This debate is nothing new. One could argue that a similar struggle existed between the Sadducees and Pharisees who believed that the cannon of truth was tightly proscribed (in the case of the Sadducees) and more open to continuing revelation (in the case of the Pharisees). Of course, even the Pharisees wanted to place a limit on that revelation that found Jesus’ own teachings distinctly on the outside.

The challenge becomes, as it has always been, how to hold to and honor truths of the past while also remaining open to new and continually unfolding insights and receptions of revelation from beyond human intellect and creativity. And for clergy and congregational leaders, how to stand in the midst of that tension, with it also existing internally in the heart and mind of the individual leader, and facilitate a process of dialogue, mutual appreciation and growth in maturity toward wholeness. May God give us strength.

 

How do you see yourself?

Certainly our opinion of our physical appearance matters. Messages from family and friends mix together with subtle and hugely overt valuations based upon body type and various standards of beauty. We then internalize and process these messages and draw conclusions about ourselves which impact how we move through the world. Watch this video, and then let’s continue the conversation…

Clearly these women were impacted by the stark difference between how they described themselves and how complete strangers, after only a brief meeting, described them. Seemingly without exception the descriptions of others were softer, radiating greater openness to others and peace with self. What a gift this became for participants.

I wonder how else this principle might be applied. I wonder if we similarly judge more harshly our personality quirks and foibles. What if we had a way to receive warm affirmations from others of what they see and appreciate in us, holding that alongside our own views, and allowing them to inform one another? the exercise in the video included an interpreter, someone who listened to both descriptions and then sketched what was heard.

This exercise can be used in coaching, spiritual direction and counseling, where an individual (it also works with groups) is invited to self-describe. Then outside observers are asked to give a separate description without any collaboration or comparison. The coach then is in the position of reflecting back what was heard in both descriptions, literally sketching out the images that have been offered, and then exploring the similarities and differences and walking with the client toward new insight into themselves, greater appreciation and love for self, and thus more compassion toward self and freedom and peace in life.

Organizations (businesses, non-profits, churches) can benefit from a similar exercise.

Less formally, friends could do this for one another. In the simplest terms, at church camp we frequently have kids give one another “warm fuzzies” – brief notes of affirmation – “What I see and appreciate about you is…” These are incredibly powerful for many, to the degree that friends of mine have held on to theirs for 35 years and longer.

  • How might you benefit from a neutral set of eyes on your life, highlighting beauty you are unable or unwilling to see?
  • When will you be ready to invite someone to facilitate this new growth for you?

Jeremiah 29 (NKGCV)

(The following is my own modified translation from Jeremiah 29, following closely the NRSV. NKGCV => New Ken G Crawford Version)

This text, I believe, is both central to our understanding of God’s call upon the church, and terribly misunderstood by congregations and especially when applied to individual lives. I invite you to read the text, and then I’ll explain why I think this is true.

4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let the prophets and the diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord. 10 For thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

11 For surely I know the dreams I dream for you, says the Lord,
dreams for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Again, v 11 “For surely I know the dreams I dream for you, says the Lord,dreams for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Those familiar with this passage typically know it with the word “plans” where I have translated “dreams.” The Hebrew is “Machashabah”  (thought, device, plan, purpose,invention) from “Chashab” which can mean “to plan” but also means imagine, consider, think upon, recon, and esteem. “Plan” is an unfortunate and limiting translation because of it’s concrete and specific connotations in our modern culture. We think of building plans, schematics, of a plan for a trip or event, that has every detail clarified and managed. By implication, then, this would suggest that God’s intentions toward us are similarly concrete, specific and managed town to the last detail. Two problems with this, biblically speaking: 1) The text is about “The People of God”, not about an individual or individuals; and 2) the scripture simply does not support the notion that God has every detail thought out in advance. If that were true, then our task would be to discern and follow every micro step in our journey. At any point in time there would be one and only one right and perfect place and way to be in the world, everything else would put us outside of God’s perfect will and plan for us.

Certainly there are times when the Spirit does seem to have a concrete and specific intention in mind for us, individually and collectively. Those moments appear in scripture as well – and they are the exponential exception, not the rule. Take the story of David, for example. We have dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of days accounted for in his life. This leaves the vast majority of days unaccounted for. This does not mean God was absent (“Where can I flee from your presence?” Ps 139:7) but rather that God’s presence is more like the wind that blows, as Jesus suggests (John 3:8). Some will counter with “All our steps are ordered by the Lord” (Prov 20:24). I would submit that we hear Proverbs in light of Psalms “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a Light to my path” (Ps 119:105) and understand that God’s Word and Spirit are leading and guiding us in the way of righteousness, but not micromanaging our choices along that way. Each day may present us with multiple good and right options for living our lives. Righteousness comes in fidelity to God’s spirit i the choosing, and in our commitment to the choices we have made, recognizing that each “Yes” also brings multiple “No”s. My yes to my wife means my no to that kind of intimacy with all other people. My yes to my children means my no to pursuing my own interests (and even what call I think God may have placed on my life) at their expense.

What of these dream then? How and when do they come? The context gives us those answers. God says, “Bloom where you are planted. Bless those around you, even if you see them as your enemies. For your blessing hangs directly on your willingness and actions to bless others.” So, while I am waiting for God’s dream to be revealed and fulfilled in my own life, I am to be faithful to the call of this larger context from Jeremiah 29. I am to to as Micah 6:8 direccts “Do justice together with God. Love mercy together with God. Walk humbly together with God. This is the whole of what God requires of you.” (NKGCV)

Ministry Training Program Courses

Download pdf flyer here: Ministry Training Program – Fall 2013
Introduction to Leadership Development & Spiritual Formation
(Two courses – Offered in Dallas)

Leadership Development – September 6-7
Click here to visit the course home page.

This survey course provides an overview of congregational leadership, including both organizational systems and dynamics as well as reflection on the person and functioning of the leader. Participants will reflect upon their own leadership style and how to best leverage it in the places where they serve. Students will also have opportunity to practice and discuss different approaches to situations. By the end of the course students should be able to articulate how they lead and identify areas for future study and growth. Session Topics:
Biblical Leadership Models; Leadership Theory; The Person of the Leader; Transformation Principles; Crisis and Conflict; Faith Formation as Leadership Development: Teaching as Leading; Leading Children and Youth; Sharing Leadership & Equipping; Missional Church Leadership; Where do you lead?; Strategic Planning; Becoming the Leader God made you to be. (SL MTP – Leadership Development Introduction – Course Outline)

Leadership Development – September 6-7
Click here to visit the course home page.

This is a foundational course in Christian spiritual formation. The primary goal is to help participants develop a deeper spiritual life by exploring these practices, their roots, and the interconnections among them. Students will have opportunity to experience, individually and in groups, various practices of prayer and other spiritual disciplines. This course lays the ground work for a series of future courses that will explore in greater depth various aspects of spiritual formation, for both the participants’ personal lives as well as their ability to nurture and guide the spiritual formation of others. Session topics: Finding Your Heart’s True Home; The Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament; Eastern Wisdom, Western Wisdom; Reformation, Reformed and Restoration Insights; Charismatic and Pentecostal Insights; Receiving the gifts of global spirituality; The New Monasticism and Missional Spiritualities; Spiritual Formation throughout the Ministries of the Church; Spiritual Direction as a part of your ministry; Psychology and Spirituality; Spirituality and Health; We are in God and God is in us; Spiritual Discernment. (SL MTP – Spiritual Formation Introduction – Course Outline)

Training events will be held at Northway Christian Church, Dallas
Cost is $229 including lunch, refreshments and course workbook.
For out-of-town students, we have arranged a special group rate at a local hotel.
Schedule for both will be: Friday 6-9 and Saturday 8:30-4:30
followed by 4 weekly conference calls with all participants
(Discounts available for registering for both courses at once,
and for 3+ registrations from the same organization)

Additionally, a retreat will be scheduled at Disciples Crossing in Athens in mid fall to include practice of spiritual disciplines and reflection on leadership planning for 2014. Cost tbd will include room and board.
TO REGISTER – CONTACT:

Rev. Ken G. Crawford, ordained minister and leadership development coach and consultant.
Ken@SynchronousLife.com ~ 214-288-1663 Linkedin, Facebook & Twitter: KenGCrawford.
Additional resources @ http://www.SynchronousLife.com and KenGCrawfordCoaching on Facebook.

Please visit http://www.TransformingTheChurch.org for details on these and other courses offered by Christian College and the Atlanta United Divinity Center

http://www.TheDisciplesCollege.org ~ http://www.DisciplesDivinityCenter.org

Ministry Training Program
About the course and instructor

Rev. Ken G. Crawford has spent more than 20 years as a ministry leader in congregations, non-profits, hospitals and colleges. Originally from Philadelphia, he was raised in Texas, where he now lives with his wife Laura and their two children. He has been active in Disciples, Presbyterian and UMC churches, and has served as a Disciples of Christ minister for 20 years. He plays guitar well enough to lead worship at camp, where he first received his call to ministry. His favorite place is at the beach with his family. He loves sailing and hiking, and writes poetry as a spiritual practice.

Ken’s passion in ministry is to support leaders as they pursue the deepest and fullest expressions of who they are in Christ, for the sake of the church as a vessel and vehicle for God’s transforming love. He is currently pursuing a DMin at Perkins, SMU, in Missional Church Leadership and Spiritual Formation. His MDiv is from Brite, TCU, and his bachelors from Texas Tech. Synchronous Life is a leadership development organization rooted in a tri-fold approach that integrates best practices in organizational leadership with emotional and relational vitality and grounds these on a deeply formative spiritual foundation.

These courses will satisfy, in part, educational requirements for non-seminary trained candidates under the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Apprenticeship Path to Ordination and for those seeking to be Commissioned in The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  All courses are developed and delivered with the intent of preparing candidates for standing in the area of competency set forth.  The courses will be taught in a way that makes them accessible and valuable to individuals from other Christian traditions as well. Future courses will expand on these themes by narrowing the focus to particular aspects of the field.  All courses utilize the ONLINE Learning Platform of http://www.TransformingTheChurch.org  and are provided through a “blended” format of onsite learning (one intensive class session of a Friday evening and all day Saturday) and online learning (weekly class meetings through conference calls/webinars following the weekend intensive). More information about the curriculum can be found at http://www.disciplesdivinitycenter.org

Our guarantee being offered by this program is that students will engage with the instructor and peers around a variety of topics vital to healthy and fruitful ministry. We make no other guarantees related to other ordaining or certifying bodies. Students are encouraged to request a copy of the course prospectus if they wish it to be reviewed by such a body in advance.

Please note: Courses are intended to serve a diverse ecumenical audience. Content is not specific to one denominational perspective or experience. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on their own tradition and experience, articulate that in the group, and engage in fruitful dialogue for mutual benefit.
Please contact Rev. Crawford for further conversation about these or other programs.
214-288-1663 ~ Ken@SynchronousLife.com ~ http://www.SynchronousLife.com