Discovering Your Green Growing Edge


“The hard thing when you get old is to keep your horizons open. The first part of your life everything is in front of you, all your potential and promise. But over the years, you make decisions; you carve yourself into a given shape. Then the challenge is to keep discovering the green growing edge.”
-Howard Thurman

Ah, “the green growing edge”! As one who stands on the precipice of turning 50, this quote by Howard Thurman suddenly has new meaning. While those who have long passed this milestone assure me, often overzealously that age is nothing but a number and my best days are ahead of me; the pitying glances of those younger than me reinforce the sneaking suspicion that misery is merely seeking company. Age is an inevitable fact of life for individuals, institutions and movements and Howard Thurman invites us to consider how to navigate this stressful dynamic in unwieldy environments. Rather than pour energy and resources into maintaining the shapes we’ve carved ourselves into, perhaps it’s time to accept the challenge of continuing to discover our green growing edges.

In my mind one of the best ways of doing this is through good old-fashioned sharing or collaboration. I wish I could claim this idea as my own but the bible is replete with scriptures that admonish us to see to the needs of others over our own (Philippians 2:3-3) and to practice hospitality by sharing with those in need. (Romans 12:13) What we sometimes fail to realize is that in some capacity we are all in need of something. As leaders, taking inventory of our organizations means taking a close look at our successes and failures; our places of plenty and our places of lack and finding innovative ways to bridge the gap.

One such way a form of sharing is referred to in business circles as collaborative consumption or the shared use of a good or service by a group. According to “Whereas with normal consumption an individual pays the full cost of a good and maintains exclusive access to it, with collaborative consumption multiple people have access to a good and bear it’s cost.” In other words, collaborative consumption can be seen as a fancy way of bartering or allowing one set of consumers to obtain resources they need, while also allowing them to provide resources that others need and are not being fully utilized. When we think about what our churches and organizations stand in need of, this way of stewarding resources could be a win for all involved, however, it forces us to face a dirty little secret in the Kingdom.

Too many times, we don’t explore these types of innovative solutions because we either harbor a scarcity mindset and/or don’t trust one another. Whether we don’t believe we have enough to share or don’t trust the integrity of those in our circle, I believe both come from a place of fear, which we know is the enemy of Truth. Through cohorts, experiments, and curated gatherings The Ministry Collaborative seeks to dismantle the lie that pastors and churches can’t work together for Kingdom building and resource sharing. Over and over, we have seen individuals and communities come together over meals, in worship, through social gatherings and spiritual formation to form bonds of trust and safety which expand our personal and institutional green growing edges. If what they say is true, that everything old is new again, then whether we call it bartering, collaborative consumption or good old-fashioned sharing we have an amazing opportunity to keep discovering our green growing edges together.

Article Written By:

Rev. Jennifer Watley Maxell, Co-founder + Pastor, The Breakthrough Fellowship & Program Curator for The Ministry Collaborative, a Project of the Macedonian Ministry Foundation.

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