Searching for the Spiritual

In 1969, I wrote a thesis arguing that the Spiritual was present in all drama. If I was writing that thesis today, I would argue that all life is Spirit filled.  The Spirit is like a sacred river, flowing through all things. There are points of contact, as  many wells tap into that river. Within the limitations of our language and thought we describe our experience of the sacred as best we can, hopefully realizing that our own experiences of the holy are just some among many. Even when we put our collective experiences together, still we are unable to see or experience the Whole. This does not stop us from trying, nor does it stop us from spiritual searching. We are often surprised, sometimes struck with awe, when the Spirit bubbles up in our lives.

Some might argue that all of this spiritual stuff is just an illusion. Humans attempting to justify their actions or rationalizing their paternalistic religious ways. Religion has been misused in both ways, but religions are limited by their supporting cultures and are only  guides to spiritual attainment and descriptions of that culture’s spiritual experiences.  Religions are not bad. They are just Spirit inspired constructs of the human mind as it defines the Spiritual presence.

The challenge today is for more people to risk stepping outside of their contextual limitations, to see the processes of Creation at work and to discern the existence of the Spiritual in their own experiences.

A Special Word for You!

Blogging 101 Task – A Blog to My Dream Reader

But who is my dream reader?                                                                                                                              I would like to think that I was writing for Generation X: people born between 1966 and 1979. Millennials can jump in on the twitter feed, …..if they want to…

Every blog that is written, every word on every page is like the sound of a tree falling in a forest devoid of life. The tree falls, did it make a sound? The blog is written, did it make a difference?

Only when the blog is read, will any feeling be conveyed, will even the minutest change take place. And he, she or other who reads the blog cannot help but grow in wisdom, feeling and understanding. If they agree with the words and sentiment, they will be thrilled with the presence of a fellow traveler on their road of life. If they disagree with the content, they will have learned that not all people have the same view as themselves.

But who is my dream reader?  Generation X

                                                               My dream reader is You!

Blogging 101 Task #1

After playing at social media, as time permitted over the past couple of years, I decided to give this basic Blogging 101 course a try. This post is my first assignment.

Who am I? I guess it requires a story?

I took a lot of time to get through university, and perhaps I never did… After three years of Chemistry I learned to read and immediately switched to Arts. The English language became my passion until I ran into Blake’s Book of Thel and, before I realized it, I was studying theology! Well what do you do with degrees in English and Theology?  You preach! The Church sent me to a lonely hilltop in rural Canada and I prepared for a lifetime of green grass and co-ops… Salvation came in the form of a military chaplain who made me an offer hard to refuse and led me into 30 years of service to Queen ( I am Canadian)  and country as a military chaplain.  Always a teller of stories, the chaplains asked me to tell their story and back I went to university to study History.  The result was a book: Peacetime Padres. You are young when you retire from the military, which led me back to my job with the United Church of Canada. Over the past 20 years, I have been part of the change that has swept the church  and now actively try to figure out where religion is headed. Along the way I learned how to make money as a writer (personal histories) and then discovered television production and social media. Throughout all, I remain a teller of stories.

So what am I doing here? Many of my peers are busy relaxing on sandy beaches and studying-up for their finals… but for me there are still roads to travel, bridges to cross and mountains to climb. This is my time to learn how to write an effective blog.

 

 

Marketing the Church

churchapp

 

 

In the 1950’s Canada’s population moved from the center of the cities to the suburbs and so did the churches. As realtors like to say: “Location. Location. Location. Location is everything.” In 2014, the best location is whatever screen is in front of the religious “consumer.”

People are busy and do everything on the internet, from shopping to seeking help with a problem. The church that gets their attention will be the church that gives them something they will find useful. Forget about what you want them to do and think about what they would find interesting… not necessarily your church. If you can give a person something that they will actually want and use, they will follow you forever and they will tell their friends.

It doesn’t have to be sexy, but it has to be useful. It has to simplify a person’s life, or make it less stressful. Put yourself in their place and think about something that you could really use. If you are a parent of young children or a senior citizen, you need to know the location of public was rooms in your town. But what if you were visiting a different town? Someone came up with an app for just such a need. Put “Sit or Squat” on your iPod and you will never be stuck again. There is a map and you even get to add your comments about the condition of the facility. Every time you use it , the first thing you see is a cover page with the name of the App’s creator. You bet people will tell their friends about it. It doesn’t have to say, come to church… they will know what church to turn to if they have a personal or religious need.

If an app is too much for you to consider, 26 % of apps are only downloaded and opened once, you can still make use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Take a look at what is trending… what people in your city or neighbourhood talking about or interested in now. Join in the conversation. What can you give them that they will find useful? You probably have a list of what to do or who to call in cases of sickness or family distress. Perhaps a list of organizations concerned about climate change or in getting people out to vote? Maybe you will even have a list of public wash rooms within a 1 km radius of your church or a popular shopping mall?

What would you find simple, useful and stress reducing? Others are looking for the same things. Get it out there on the internet and people will tell their friends where to find it and more.

How to Grow Your Church

who

 

For years churches have been loosing touch with the younger generation. Now days, that could mean most people under the age of fifty. What can a church do to turn this around?

 

 

Forget about traditional advertising.

Start listening to people and building a direct relationship with them.

Have a good webpage and a social media presence.

Focus on who those people are: your true fans, and on how the church can connect with them.

Go to where they are, and where they are is on Facebook, twitter and You Tube.

Don’t look for likes on your Facebook page, but like their pages first.

Be active on every blog that relates to church activities, but don’t expect everyone to come to you.

If your twitter feed is nothing but announcements about coming events and no one is sharing your content, think about adapting your content strategy.

Get creative. You can answer real questions, and give customers a sneak peek into your church and into what it will look like in the future.

Above all:

  • deliver value
  • be open
  • be clear and consistent
  • create a mutually beneficial world

Find and nurture your true fans. Your heavy users will become evangelists for you and then you will begin to experience a network effect .

The Double-Loop Theory of Change

In order to continue in these time of rapid change organizations, including the church, need to recognize some basic theories about how social and cultural organizations change. One such theory is known as the double loop theory of change . As one institution approaches the end of its time, innovators from within evolve in new ways, eventually replacing the old organization with something new and different. The following illustration shows how it works: (clicking on it may help you see the details.)

double loopSome innovations fail, but others succeed and communities of support form around them. As these new communities evolve they gain supporters from the old organization who help steward the process as it continues on.

There are many organizations and processes in Western society beginning their descent to oblivion. In these rapidly changing times we need innovators willing to risk the leap and, in so doing, keep our culture from decay.