It doesn’t really matter what kind of change a meeting is trying to make; the first thing to do is simply prepare for change. If we skip that part, the change making eventually stagnates.
So what indicates that a meeting is ready for change? Below, you’ll find my suggestions in a format traditional to Friends: advices and queries. These can be used in worship sharing, in committee meetings, in meetings for business, or in private reflection.
Click on any of them to read about the concept in more detail.
These advices and queries are a product of my own experiences working with Friends, distilled during some work I did as a consultant New England Yearly Meeting. My process of developing them included interviewing members of the staffs of New England and New York Yearly Meetings, reading research done by nonprofit organizations (including Project Include), and considering principles gleaned from a Massachusetts Council of Churches podcast interview with Marty St. George, executive vice president for commercial and planning at JetBlue Airlines.
- A meeting that is prepared for culture change will commit to clear communication and mutual transparency.Nothing gets hidden under the rug. An unknown future is difficult enough; we can’t engage with the unknown future when we’re also using energy to deal with an unknown present or an unresolved past.
- A meeting that is prepared for culture change will value relationship and function over structure and process.This will mean understanding that no structure or process is “one-size-fits-all” and that a commitment to relationship and function will require ongoing (not one-time-only) willingness to adjust/adapt structure and process.
- A meeting that is prepared for culture change will take joy in experimentation, understanding that long-term growth requires patient devotion to perpetual learning.
- A meeting that is prepared for culture change will bravely ask for specific new information, new tools, and new skills from sources outside of the meeting.
- Are we committed to clear communication and mutual transparency as we move forward together?
- Are we placing first the relationships between the people in the room, our relationship with God, and our ability to be wholeheartedly faithful? Are we prepared to prioritize faithfulness and relationship over comfort and predictability?
- Do we take joy in experimentation and celebrating small successes, understanding that long-term change requires tremendous patience?
- Are we actively seeking new information, new tools, and new skills from beyond our local faith community? Are we asking bravely for the specific help we need?