Kaleidoscope of Flourishing by Stewart Perry
Well Synod is over for another year and unsurprisingly the world has kept turning. It is an important process in the life of the Anglican Church but it is a long and draining weekend for those involved.
Synod can be quite dry and legalistic in many ways, I often describe Synod to those who don’t know what Synod is as “like the parliament of the Church”. Over recent years those who plan and prepare the Synod have tried different things to make it more engaging and relational. This year we tried a process known as “talking circles” which has some similarities to what First Nations people might call “yarning circles”. You have a symbol known as a talking piece and when someone has the talking piece they have the floor and no-one interrupts them, once they are done, they pass the talking piece to the next person who can choose to speak or pass the symbol on to the next person.
I was asked to facilitate one of the groups, which were a maximum of 20 people, and we were discussing questions around the theme “what does it mean to be a flourishing faith community”. There was 1 or 2 people who spoke a bit longer than others but it was great to have each person given equal opportunity to share their thoughts and perspectives. Some found it quite emotional to hear what their faith community (which was a combination of church, schools and workplaces in our group) meant to them.
I shared my thought on the 3 questions first and as facilitator it was my role to “model” how the question could be answered and also model keeping the reponses short (which is not always easy for me). I shared my thoughts briefly and then passed the talking piece to the next person. Interestingly I found myself thinking more deeply by listening to the others respond than thinking quietly to myself and then coming up with my own answer.
One of the the thoughts I had, which I didn’t share with the group was around what it actually means to “flourish”. Now I should say that I am no horticultural expert, I’ve been known to dabble but that’s about it. But it struck me that not all plants in nature flourish all the time and the ones that do, the evergreen types, tend to be fairly monochrome. The plants that flower or bear a fruit can be really vibrant or striking, but they are not always like this.
This thought got me thinking… are we an evergreen church that keeps on keeping on… or are we a seasonal church that is flourishing at different points in different seasons?
I’m not sure I know the answer… part of me likes the idea of being evergreen but another part of me likes the idea of vibrant flourishing.
It might be something that you might like to give some thought to and I’d love to hear your thoughts!
If churches are like the 2 different images of evergreen and seasonal then those churches will need different nurture, attention and care. The evergreen will need constant nutrients and space to keep on producing, while the seasonal plant will have times when it needs to be pruned, or times when it doesn’t seem to be producing and there’ll be other times when it seems to all just come together for the glory of God.
If churches can be like that, people can too… I wonder if you’re an evergreen person or a seasonal flourisher? It’s probably something I need to pay more attention to myself.
God does call us to flourish but we don’t need to all flourish the same way to flourish together. Perhaps our current image of the kaleidoscope can help again… can we, together, as Church, be a kaleidoscope of flourishing?
I hope and pray we can.
Have a great week!