Eco-Style Leadership

A little over a year ago, as I was beginning this new job, I felt like I kept having the same conversation over and over again. Whether it was about the local church, youth ministry in the local church, leadership development, our state-wide youth events, etc. the conversation always went something like this…. “Something needs to change. We are ready for a change.” Me: “What needs changing? Do you have any new ideas?” “No. I don’t know how it needs to change, it just needs to change.” I was fresh out of a church where this cycle of conversation seemed to be the norm as well. We knew things needed to change but had no language for it, no perspective for it. We always wound up using “church” language which limited us. Church language is always steeped in the traditions of our faith. To talk about canceling a program, brings up the decades of fond memories for the group and individual memories of how important that program was for their faith development. We can’t get rid of something so important. To talk about adding something into the schedule, the language always takes us back to the same things we have always done. It didn’t work before, why would it work now? To talk about changing the way we look at our facilities means that others might trespass on our holy places. I felt like I needed a new language to help leaders process the possibilities for the future. It needed to be something natural, something everyone could easily relate to and identify with. Something that would draw people in but also something that was outside of the typical ways we talk about church. As I sat on the deck of my home brainstorming with my coach, I was gazing at this tree. It suddenly became clear to me, what if we could use nature and ecology to talk about the church and leadership? I was a science teacher and have always loved biology, so I connected with this idea. I spent intentional time talking with agricultural educators, farmers, even a peanut expert. Pardon the pun, but the connections between what we are facing in the church today and the natural ecology that surrounds us provides fertile soil for lessons and a new way of thinking and talking. I guess it’s not really new at all though, Jesus knew the importance of looking at the natural world around him to teach the people, but I hope to engage ecology in a new way for a new season of ministry. Certain entries in the blog will be devoted to this idea of eco-style leadership, including one that will follow this soon. This idea is still a work in progress but I’m looking forward to sharing my ideas and thoughts with you as we all grow together.

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