Here Comes the Future (Orlando on Thursday)

Ric Hudgens Pastor's Corner

Delegates had a very long day of meetings yesterday finishing at almost ten p.m. last night. And here I am before eight a.m. today, back in the Convention Center ready for day two of the “Future Church Summit.”

All 600 plus delegates are arranged in table groups of eight. These groups will be permanent for the length of the process. We spent a good bit of time getting to know each other and “building relationships” by answering some questions about sharing our name and city/church of origin, what we wanted to be when we grew up, and our hopes for the Summit. We created a “covenant of values” for our table group discussions. We then did some appreciative inquiry interviews with one another about our connections with the Mennonite Church and shared what has been most life-giving and essential about being an Anabaptist. All of this was recorded by an appointed “recorder” who was sending notes to a “theme team” through the iPads placed on every table. Here comes the future.

As a plenary, we were led through a review of Anabaptist history with an extensive and extended timeline posted on one side of the room. Some appointed authorities made observations about this timeline before each table was asked to discuss important learning points from the discussion and what it might mean going forward.

By the end of the day, we were all very tired but the energy in the room was notably positive. The overwhelming affirmation of the Israel-Palestine perhaps created (or was the effect of?) a positive energy for this process.

I won’t add much more today except to note how often the structure of our communication processes contribute to many of our unresolved problems. We sometimes structure our problems in by not making expectations clear, or values central, or processes clear. This Convention is using some new conversation processes that seem to work much better than many of our inherited customs. I’ve been encouraged by that. Perhaps it is time for the open mic (as one example) to die in order for a new congregational life of thoughtful, discernment to emerge. Here comes the future.