Upon first reading the words “Transformation Experience,” I know it doesn’t appear that are there any “C”s in those two words. However, our experience here in Buffalo has found many “C”s in the experience. I’d like to share some examples of how this program is helping us to “see” the possibilities of ministry in a new and expanded way.
First of all, Change-friendly. Moving into being a culture that is more change-friendly is, in my opinion, a tremendous strength and asset for our ministry. One thing that is certain in life is change. It is happening in every area of our lives and world. I think of being “change-friendly” as a sign of self-confidence, trust in oneself, and faith in God that as things change, we will be able to grow, be resilient and learn to work with change in a positive and productive way.
I felt that just the fact that our congregation voted “yes” to being part of this pilot program was a sign that the ministry had made great strides in its openness to change. If we never got anything else out of the experience, the fact that people were willing to be part of an “experiment” was to me a sign of the self-confidence of the congregation—that we can try something new, work through the challenges that will inevitably come up, and be all the better for it. I’m proud to be part of a congregation that embraces new ideas and new experiences.
And, of course, we have reaped many more benefits from the experience. The second “C” is for Commitment. This has been the first time in the almost nine years that I have been here that our full board has made the commitment to tithe to our ministry. We now have a pool of people willing to model what we teach and set the example for the congregation. The Transformation Experience has also called for us to organize several new teams to lead us through the various processes, including drafting new mission, vision, and core values statements; assessing the present status of our ministry in many areas; and now developing a strategic plan. At each step of the way, we have had excellent leaders step forward to participate. A high level of commitment to our ministry has been demonstrated by our taking on these significant activities over and above all the other regular areas of our ministry.
Creating a Culture of Leadership is another “C” that has blessed our ministry. We have really taken to heart the leadership dimensions of being Enlightened Leaders. I had a wonderful feeling a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning when I walked through the door of our church and saw that one of our Strategic Planning teams had already been meeting for an hour before I got there, under the very capable leadership of our church members—and without my needing to be present.
The “Community-centric” model of ministry empowers lay leaders to step into leadership roles that free up the minister’s time and energy to concentrate on the things that they do best. A wonderful example of this happened last fall when we had some congregants who were involved with extended hospitalizations. The way the congregation “self-organized” around providing the pastoral support needed was a great example of being “community-centric.”
Our Consultant Guide, Linda Davidson, has been another very important “C.” We have been blessed by the professionalism, spiritual consciousness, and a true love for this work that Linda has brought to our work together. The “C” in her title also stands for coaching, something I can’t imagine doing ministry without.
We’ve also had some other “C”s that have been part of our TE experience—conflict and chemicalization are two examples. My view is that these are part of life and part of ministry. Our job is to learn to be present when they come up, developing skills and practices that help us grow through the experiences. The Art and Practice of Living with Nothing and No One Against You is a tremendous program for helping us work with challenging situations in every area of our lives. I highly recommend it.
These are some of the “C”s that we have found to be part of our Transformation Experience. They are all things that have helped us see ourselves, our ministry and our future in a new light. Along the way, here are some other changes that have occurred with our ministry: An increase in financial giving each year, and a shift to a larger percentage of our congregation providing the 80% of our income.
My prayer is that the learning we have experienced is adding to a body of wisdom about Unity church ministry that will help all of us have an even greater experience of thriving in ministry. I extend my gratitude and appreciation to all those who have contributed to developing and administering this program. I am also most grateful for my fellow “pilot colleagues” who were willing to grab hold of this adventure and said, “I can see the possibilities here. Count me in!”
Seven Leadership and Ministry Resource Guides have been developed from the Transformation Experience program. Unity ministers and ministries may download them for free. Learn more on the Leadership and Ministry Resource Guides page.