I recently came across an article about the 10 qualities of creative communities. The authors conclude that faith communities that exhibit these 10 qualities are more vital and better able to respond to a culture that is in flux, shaping the future of religion in the process.
I hope that authors are right, because I think we’re doing pretty well with all of these qualities.
It struck me to be a little strange that the first quality identified is Bounded. One might assume that creative communities would be so far outside the box that nothing is left inside. Actually, they found that having some constraints of religious tradition and ways of operating supports boundary pushing. I think we’re pretty good at boundary pushing within the constraints of our tradition and ways of operating.
Creative communities, the authors say, are Authentic, but I don’t fully get what their buzz-word explanation means, so I’m interpreting this to mean that creative communities have integrity, that the face they present is accurate to who they really are. I think this is true of us as well.
Creative communities are Embedded, committed to a particular place and want to make a difference there. This is true of us.
Creative communities are Pollinating, more interested in spreading ideas than in establishing or maintaining institutions. I think Niles Discovery Church is willing to take risks in an effort to spread the really big idea of love.
Creative communities are Embodied, in the flesh. I think we get the radical good news that is in the incarnation. We don’t separate the “spirit” and “flesh,” but recognized that the flesh alive here and now is just as sacred as whatever it is that lives on in the life after this life.
Creative communities are Activated, taking ideas and putting them into action. We are definitely a congregation that wants to get our hands dirty making the world a better place.
Creative communities are Empathetic, grounding their actions in care and compassion, often for marginalized people. I think this is also true of our congregation – so true that I think we always want to be better at it.
Creative communities are Networked, connected within and across traditions. Again, this is true of us. In addition to our connections to our denominations, we have three church members who are active in the Tri-City Interfaith Council (which is three times the norm).
Creative communities are Enfranchised, more interested in welcoming ideas from many points of view rather than adhering to a strict hierarchy. Why this can feel “loosey-goosey,” our structure that encourages the formation of Special Ministry Teams to undertake new ideas is designed specifically for Enfranchisement (we just didn’t have the world for it at the time).
Creative communities are Adaptive, responding to new social challenges and opportunities with a sense of possibility, rather than a sense of fear. I think that most of the time this is true of us, too.
We won’t have time in our Annual Meeting for me to offer any sort of a “state of the church” address – we simply have too much business to conduct. I hope this column has sufficed as a summary of the state of our church’s health. I welcome your feedback and/or assessment.
See you at the Annual Meeting and in worship.
Peace, Pastor Jeff