Building a New Way

We are rebuilding, as a church. On March 16, 2020, we closed our doors and began doing church in a completely different way, with computer screens and occasional drive-thru events taking the place of all the other ways we were accustomed to connecting.

More than two years later, it should come as no surprise that we have to rebuild committees, programs, and indeed, our entire sense of being a community where we care for one another.

Since we have to rebuild programs and processes, we are also taking the time to ask, “Well, why DO we do it this way?”

This is an important question to ask. There is an old story about one newlywed asking the other, “I notice that when you make a pot roast, you always cut off the ends and discard them. Why is that?” Their spouse says, “I don’t really know – I do that because my mom always did.” So then they go to the mom and ask her why she does that. “Hmm. I don’t know. But it’s how my mother taught me.” So they go to the spouse’s grandmother and ask her, “Why do we need to cut off the ends of the pot roast?” She stares at them a minute, then dissolves in gales of laughter. When she can get her breath, she says, “Because that was the size of the pan I always used.”

Our Stewardship Team decided to question the process we use for running the canvass every year, and in doing so, began taking steps toward what will be a more streamlined, less-stress, and more efficient process. They have completed this year’s canvass and will be proposing changes moving forward for the Board to consider. Thank you so much to Joel Bercu, Sue & Tim Buckley, Barbara Coldiron, Linda McCullough, Becky McPherson, Liz Schwab, and Diane Stepakof-Fay for their work and their wisdom.

You may often hear us talk about being “always in beta.” This is an aspirational statement, not always a matter of fact. As business consultant Olivier Blanchard writes,

“What does being in Beta mean? It means being in perpetual test mode. It means constantly asking “how could I do this better,” even when this worked just fine. How can I listen better? How can I make my billing process smoother? How can I engage my user community even better? How could this brochure have been better?

The point is this: The moment you start thinking that you have found the perfect model, the second you start adopting a ‘let’s not change anything’ mentality, you’re screwed. The ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’ saying I hear a lot in the South may have been pretty good advice a hundred years ago, but it isn’t anymore. Not if you want your company to stay competitive. Not if you want to see your company grow. Not if you want to see chronic improvement in everything you do.”

We are a religious community, not a business, but there are tenets of business that apply to us, and I believe this is one. We should adopt a willingness to be in perpetual test mode, questioning how we do things, and how they could be better. It should be a deep part of our congregational culture that we reject sacred cows and the inertia of “we’ve always done it this way.”

As we sing in hymn #1017:

We are building a new way,
feeling stronger ev’ry day,
We are building a new way!