Where does imagination enter into our work?
How do we learn to see new possibilities in the resources available to our congregation?
Who teaches us how to imagine our church life together?
What possibilities do they help us to see?
We think these are great questions for the beginning of a new year in the life of a church board.
Here is an exercise to help you get started:
Place a piece of 6-foot rope in the middle of the table at your board meeting.
Ask first: how might this be used in the life of a church?
Then ask: What is the best use for this church, right now?
Next, read this poem together:
Voice – by Kory Wells
When she’d hand the rope to me,
she could’ve said, Here, jump
on out of my way—
I’ve got laundry to hang,
supper to cook, a shirt to mend,
this book I want to read.
She’d already taught me
Miz Mary Mac, those silver buttons,
all the other singsong rhymes.
Now she was teaching me
about metaphor, otherwise known as
pretend. She could’ve said, Here,
this is a snake—pretend
it wants to bite you, but
she was not teaching me to fear.
She could’ve said, Here,
find someone to play tug-of-war,
but she was not teaching me
to require the presence
of others. She could’ve said,
Here, this is how you make
a noose, but she was not
teaching me violence
or hatred. No,
my mother handed me
one end of that rope
secured in a stiff knot
and said, Here,
this is a microphone.
What can you sing?
(“Voice,” by Kory Wells, from SUGAR FIX by Kory Wells – as heard and read on “The Slowdown” a podcast/daily email by Tracy K. Smith)
- What is a figurative ‘rope’ for your church right now—something you might put to use in a variety of ways?
- What are the range of possibilities you see in it?
- What is its best use for your congregation right now?
- How has your board, in the past, used a ‘rope’ to tie things up in ways that did not work so well?
Walter Brueggemann, among other scholars, has observed how God’s laws and precepts are given to us ‘to lead us to life.” He points to Jewish tradition, noting that any interpretation of the law, no matter how exacting and accurate you think it is—if it does not lead to life, it is not an interpretation of God’s law. Psalm 19 teaches us this way of seeing as well.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
- What are the words used to describe God’s law here?
- How do they make you feel?
- How are they, like the rope, to be used in church life?