Thursday Thoughts on “One Word: Follow”

As part of my involvement in the One Word 2012 campaign (go to I am taking this Thursday column to write about my journey with my one word “follow.”

And today, I was reminded that I follow alongside others in the community of faith called the church as I attended a wonderful seminar on the Spiritual Foundations of Congregational Leadership. It was sponsored by the Center For Congregations – Northeast that is an organization formed by the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis.  The seminar leader was Don Zimmer who has written a book, that we received today as part of the seminar, entitled Leadership and Listening: Spiritual Foundations for Church Governance. (Published by Alban Institute)

It was a wonderful gathering and, my current thinking about the process of leadership as part of congregational development and health, was affirmed in several places. Here are a few thoughts from today, from Zimmer and others that have given me some fresh perspective on my role as a leader and a follower: (italics mine)

Our corporate processes, decisions, and actions and how people experience their service while participating in them are our theology in its most concrete form. Timothy Luke Johnson


Church governance presents a unique challenge: the paradox of the transforming power of religion and the stabilizing power of organization.

This statement gave me some immediate clarity about the tension over change that occurs in congregations. Think Jesus and the wineskins statement.

The great uniting desire in the church is to do God’s will; the challenge is to listen to the master story and the stories that are the fabric of your life and the life of you community.


Understanding the nature of our work together is critical. (There are two types:) technical work which is clearly defined (think budget) and adaptive work which requires learning (think how to best disciple people).


Finally, one that really gave me pause!

Sources of Resistance: Assertive groups, primary emphasis on the business of the church, business experience of board members, vested interest in roles and organization, Culture of Robert’s Rules, Lack of preparation of clergy and laity, unresolved conflict.


All of this reminds me that in my journey to follow Christ that I am walking with a host of others, some very up close and others further away, but a host that cuts across denominational lines. My following is not in isolation. I follow Christ. But I also follow along with others who are following Christ as well. And sometimes this journey is hard and frustrating.  But very, very essential.

These are my Thursday Thoughts


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