The Grace planning weekend in May 2005 was a very significant step forward for Grace, in which we mapped out the values and structures that would guide us in the years ahead. Our tenth anniversary in 2003 had caused us to think about our long-term future, as a community not just a worship experiment. We realised that we needed to change how we did things to enable and sustain that community.
Meal at the Roses' house.
We spent Saturday at a very large house in Oxshott belonging to Paige Allen, a friend of Moya. This was the day set aside for discussion of our values and how we operate. Out of it came the Grace ethos, confirmation of the curation model for making services, the facilitation group for overall direction, and encouragement for small groups to do other kinds of things apart from making worship.
People also found time to use the hot tub in the garden, and watch the FA cup final!
Country pub in the Chilterns followed by optional walk 1pm.
Gracelet – Richard and Sue used the new ethos words - Engage, Participate, Create and Risk for the first time.
Notes from the weekend by Jonny.
1. Bring something that you feel represents what you like or are positive about in Grace:
- leffe - friends
- stained glass - skills/gifts that people bring
- tea light - space, thought and energy that goes into grace on sat nights
- finding neverland 'unlock your imagination' - weaving everyday into story/worship using imagination
- thomas merton photos - inspired grace even if we don't realise it
- probes by marshall mcluhan - creativity
- 45 singles - grace being a place to fit when i can't fit into church elsewhere, grace having a bit of rebellious attitude
- music CDs and wine - love it
- dial up cable - connectivity made through grace
- passport - man united - supporters globally but not so many locally
- vampire blood - wacky, different, unexpected, fun
- lies damned lies used in nine and lent blog - participation
- singles - great moments in grace (believe + creed and dreams)
- paracetemol - chilling out
2. Bring something that represents something you feel is missing from Grace:
- condom - sealed life - needing to get out
- risk - need to take more, evolved culture can be cozy
- picture of smashing stuff - need to be prepared to let some things go/die for new to emerge
- kendrick song - missing and should remain missing
- questionnaire for prophet service - need to encourage more risk taking
- book 'walking to the mountain' - been careful... get into the world - mountain won't come to us we have to go to it...
- crayons - basic creative stuff that everyone can use and that is just for the sake of it not necessarily for a service
- blank CD - big project
- tube map with ealing removed and other global locations added - not doing enough locally
- stone with switch hidden - haven't yet found creative outlet personally
- big fat book - too family friendly, fluffy and nice - want space for heavy, adult, scary, dark and difficult, intense
- album from loft that is embarrassing - how honest can we be in what we bring? do we just bring the cool side?
- newspaper - grace can feel like a special event every so often but doesn't connect with daily life
- the monastery - watched it and felt hungry for connection with god and intimacy, ironic that it doesn't fuel my personal faith
- picture of hand with isaiah verse 'i have craved you in palm of my hand' - need to connect more with our own need for and hunger for god
- time out - need to get more organised to lift pressure?
We revisited the list of things we value about Grace from January. It's quite a long list. See photos below.
group 1 -
high quality and risk taking and creativity
all others maybe under heading of hospitality....
and curation is not a value so is removed
group 2 -
risk taking and consensus opposites
creativity in middle - core thing
is high quality important? - seems to be a tension around that - is it high quality of input or output?
group 3 -
reduced to values to three groups and added in engagement as a new heading -
We also discussed Steve Taylor's notion of peg and ethical community from the chapter Jonny had copied and given out before the weekend.
Moving On To The Next Phase
We began to discuss that participation/involvement in Grace revolves around joining the planning group. Whilst this has been great it is time to risk breaking it/changing it. It is a stumbling block because a) it can only be a certain size b) it's intimidating to join c) people who want to be involved but not join a weekly commitment are put off d) it doesn't give space for involvement that isn't worship planning. But the flip side of that is that it is also where we regularly meet and make things happen so if we lose the main planning group there is concern that we may lose too much? But overall people felt we should risk a change and see how it goes.
The life of Grace will revolve around the following:
1. A dreaming weekend in the summer to reflect annually on where Grace is headed, dream new ideas, and agree the direction/vision for the next year. This is open to anyone.
2. Grace services monthly The broad themes for these will be agreed in the summer at the weekend or soon after.
3. Gracelet monthly
4. A Grace meal monthly - with the change in structure this will be a key place to meet and catch up.
5. A monthly open planning meeting
6. Fluid small groups meeting for different purposes including but not solely planning services.
In practice this might work as follows:
a) We agree service themes and names of curators/lead person for those. This is communicated round the wider group and people are invited to express what they would like to get involved in. Alongside this the lead person might actively encourage a few people to join their team including trying to identify at least one person who hasn't been a regular member of the planning group. Some services might have 2/3 people planning, some might have 5/6. Once that group has met and started dreaming they might them want to invite other people to do things in or for that service.
b) We hope that small groups don't just involve service planning. So say there is an opportunity to get involved in a local mind body spirit festival, a team might meet to pray and plan involvement in that. Or someone wants to develop a lent course looking at Ecclesiastes through film - they might pull a team together for that. Or Grace response to Make Poverty History...
c) It might be that a team meet to just have fun creating stuff not for any particular service? Say Mark wants to make some films invites people to get involved in that and learn about 'after effects' software in the process... Results of course could then be incorporated into something.
These groups might just meet for a task and then disband or they might meet for a longer period - it just depends on what they are set up for. The plus is anything can quickly and easily be set up. We can create space for anyone's dreams within a loose structure. The danger is that we are a small group and if we are not careful may just plan services and nothing else. So we need to encourage the diet of services to happen whilst also creating space for dreaming new ideas etc. We didn't talk about this but maybe we should agree that all new groups/ideas get brought to a Grace meal or planning meeting or the faciliation group before being set up so that we can keep a handle on what's happening. It is also clear that with a greater level of complexity we really do need to improve our communication.
7. A small facilitation team (2 or 3 people) who are trusted to serve Grace by
a) taking what was agreed at the weekend or on other occasions and making sure it is followed through
b) communication - within the grace community and wider group
c) decisions that need to be made are brought to Grace and communicated (at meals, planning meetings, or electronically)
d) ensuring that things that need to be done are talked about and someone takes responsibility for making them happen. this includes the big picture and keeping an eye on the small detail
e) diary planning - getting community dates planned and communicated
Next Year's Programme
We outlined service ideas and headings for the next year. Mike will send these round.
The three in Sept, Oct and Nov are on create, participate and engage to give space to reflect on and introduce these changes to people coming to Grace.
We need to digest these plans and react to them. Then several things need to be done which minimally include:
a) Agree programme for next year and assign lead persons/curators
b) Decide on 2/3 people to be on the small facilitation group
c) Work out the process of how we encourage small groups and new activities
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1. Bring something that you feel represents what you like or are positive about in Grace. See above and also next year's Grace flyer at the top of the page for the key to the objects.
2. Bring something that represents something you feel is missing from Grace. See above for key to objects.
Discussions about ethos and structures.
Some people availed themselves of the hot tub. Others looked on bemused.
The house from the end of the garden.
Post-punk singles - signifying authenticity and rebellion.
Discussing the ethos words.
group 1 - high quality and risk taking and creativity - all others maybe under heading of hospitality.... and curation is not a value so is removed
group 2 - risk taking and consensus opposites - creativity in middle - core thing - is high quality important? - seems to be a tension around that - is it high quality of input or output?
group 3 - reduced values to three groups and added in engagement as a new heading - creativity | participation | engagement
Walking in the Chilterns on Sunday afternoon.