The Church is Open for Business

The Churchis Open for BusinessWe spend the majority of our waking hours at work between the ages of 20 and 70. Jesus was constantly entering into people’s work places and spaces – the fishing  pier, the market, the town square, the tax office. When we fail to show up and engage in the work place, we are missing an essential aspect of Jesus’ ministry strategy, and missing the opportunity to bless and be blessed by our neighbors.

Sometimes we can go to them, but we also have an opportunity to create a space where they will want to gather for work and community building.

Congregations have several elemental strengths when it comes to incubating small businesses:

  1. They are already physically present in communities.
  2. They are geographically close to individuals who are longing for greater meaning in their lives and a rewarding way to financially support themselves.
  3. They historically have a web of relationships with which to engage and collaborate
  4. They have property (buildings and land) which are often underutilized resources that can be leveraged for new and innovative projects.
  5. They may also have a tradition and a theology that encourages helping people to flourish and thrive in a holistic way – in every aspect of human life.

For more on this topic:
Small Business Incubators, Community Development, and the Church
Social Entrepreneurship on KenGCrawford.com

iVM in the Spotlight

“You are not alone.”  

These life giving words are like cool water to a parched spirit for many who serve in ministry – both clergy and laity alike. Living one’s faith and spirituality by serving in ministry is an opportunity for incredible joy as we learn with, from and about other people. We can stretch ourselves as we lean into the places and situations that challenge us, perhaps even where we feel a sense of anxiety. Every day can bring new experiences and discoveries as we embrace Community, Loving God and Neighbor, and the Eucharistic Life – the three legged stool of discipleship that we seek to live at the Missional Wisdom Foundation.

And, it can be really tough. The Institute for Vital Ministry (iVM) was founded to meet people in the midst of their ministry and be “companions on the journey.” This companionship from iVM emerges primarily through coaching, pastoral care and spiritual direction offered to individuals, groups, and ministry teams. At the Missional Wisdom Foundation, we like to say “Go out. Go Deep. Go together.” Missional is always contextual, and it is always relational. For those of us raised and trained by and in the mainline Christian traditions, this sometimes comes as surprising good news. MWF seeks to respond to proclaim this good news in a variety of ways, including incubating other nonprofits whose vision is complementary to our core. The Institute for Vital Ministry is one such organization.

The founder, Ken Crawford, has served for over 25 years across multiple denominations and in ecumenical settings, both congregational and nonprofit. Through his own experience, and the research and observation of peers and colleagues, he has developed several resources and processes that support flourishing and wholeness for lay leaders and clergy. His most recent work has been with clergy who trained for and served in settled pastorates, but have found themselves drawn out into multivocal expressions of their ministry that include congregational, non-profit, for-profit, and social entrepreneurship settings.

At the center of all the work at iVM is an understanding of what we call a “Synchronous Life” – one in which individuals and groups are able to see and pursue wholeness across all of life. We help people move beyond surviving to thriving in ministry by integrating the life-giving energy available in each facet of life into a harmonized system. Too often we live siloed rhythms where our professional, personal and private lives do not overlap – if we can at all help it. Unfortunately, living this way is exhausting, and robs us of the gifts that each domain of life can offer to the rest of who we are and who we are called to be. Drawing upon the skills of coaching, pastoral care, and spiritual direction, working with individuals and groups, we are here to accompany you, because we believe that “wherever your road leads… you don’t have to travel alone.”

You can learn more about the work of iVM and Ken’s ministry at www.iVitalMinistry.org. If you would like to explore working with a coach or spiritual director, please contact Ken at KCrawford(at)missionalwisdom.com.

* from the Missional Wisdom Foundation’s “Wisdom for the Way

______________________
ABOUT:  Rev. Ken G. Crawford serves on staff with the Missional Wisdom Foundation as a holistic leadership and life coach to the people who work at The Mix Coworking. He is also part of the leadership team for Anam Cara. Ken was fortunate to work under the guidance of Elaine Heath who served as his DMin thesis advisor. 

Hearing, Seeing and Speaking

101712_2206_DreamDiscov1.pngOutsiders bring fresh perspective and new insights into our world. Inviting someone in to hear and see our lives, to reflect prayerfully and then to speak faithfully, this is a great challenge and opportunity. We risk hearing uncomfortable truths with the hope and expectation that we will be renewed and transformed as a result. The Kingdom of God is found where our internal needs and resources intersect with those of the community around us.

TBSP LOGOThe Missional Church finds its fullest expression at this intersection. The next week will be spent pouring over data, stories and collections of interviews as we prepare a Comprehensive Report. In June The Best Start Project began working with our first congregation. This is a congregation with great strengths and competencies already on board. They have a strong history over their 20 years, and are positioned now to be transformed and grow into the mature Body of Christ that they are called to be.

This work begins with the congregation centering itself in prayer and bible study. On this foundation it builds by bringing together information gathered from Market Research, customized Congregational and Community Surveys, Listening Conversations, Leadership Style Assessments, Ethnographic Interviewing, and Congregational Analysis. The Comprehensive report synthesizes all of this information into a digestible format with the addition of Observations and Opportunities. The congregation then has a path forward and the increased capacity to use these tools for continued renewal and transformation.

Wake up and dream

These aren’t day dreams. These are life dreams.
These are kingdom dreams, God-sized dreams.

Sleeping dreams are weird – like a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass. They are the result of a swirling mix of your subconscious mind, your anxieties, and whatever you had for dinner. Like I said, WEIRD. They may be scary, or fun, sad, heartwarming or erotic. More often than not, they seem completely detached from reality.

And yet how often do we let them control our reality? How often do we shy away from a challenge because of some nightmare of the danger or risks involved? How often do we pursue a path of unhealthy self-gratification or self-glorification that originated in a dream state? We consume stories in prose and poetry, songs, TV and movies – some of which create a very literal interpretation of these dreamlike experiences – I’m thinking of The Matrix series and Inception. You may know of others that like an MC Escher print fold dimensions inside each other as though each of us were a series of interlocking Mobius strips.

The 2013 holiday release of the new Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – a remake of the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo – is based on the James Grover Thurber (1894-1961) story from The New Yorker magazine. Mitty is a character who lives in his imagination, with his real life bearing no resemblance to his dreams. Eventually he awakes to this situation, and makes a conscious decision to go and do something else, to Wake up and dream.

Thurber is reported to have said, “Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” So many of our dreams have us looking in anger or fear.

God’s dreams for us begin with our waking to what is real, right here and now, in our very midst. God with us, Emmanuel. God here in the sorrow and struggle, the laughter and love. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God’s thoughts toward God’s people are of blessing, and a future with hope. (Jer 29:11) God’s dream is to restore that which has been lost, or that which we only glimpse “as through a veil dimly.”  (1Cor 13:12)

The first and last scenes of the Bible are of a beautiful garden in which human beings are in harmony with one another, they undertake meaningful creative work caring for the world as a central feature of their blessed state, and they are in communion with God who dwells and walks among them. Their home is God’s home. This is the vision, the dream which God is continually dreaming for us and working with us to unfold in and through us.

“And they called him Emmanuel, God with us.”

Most often the Bible uses the word wake with reference to calling people to pay attention to what is happening around them, to shake off the stupor of their sinful and slothful ways. Shake off the haze of the culture which invites you to deny the reality of God and the spiritual world, and even your own spirit. Shake off the sleep that lulls you into believing either that you are the only thing that matters, or that you do not matter at all.

The sojourners from the east came, wise and wealthy – and thereby powerful – yet they humbled themselves before the child Jesus. Shepherds, the least and lowest, the most despised among Jewish society, found themselves with personal engraved invitations to the party of the ages. The “reality” in both situations would have told them to stay away – one because they were too good, and the other because they were not good enough. Yet through dreams and visions they all came to realize that the invitation was for them, and for everyone – “Peace on earth, good will to all.”

What will your dreams reveal, when you begin to let yourself dream them? What is God longing to show you? What is being prepared for you to be and do in the world so that others might experience Emmanuel? Whether you’re a shepherd, a wiseman, an innkeeper, a carpenter, or a young and innocent woman, you have a role to play in the unfolding drama of God’s dream. Will you open to it?

+++++++++++++++++
These reflections were written in preparation for a sermon on 12/29/2013, first Sunday after Christmas. The sermon scriptures were:
Isaiah 52:7-10  ~  Psalm 98  ~  Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)  ~  John 1:1-14