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Reflection Paper Based on the responses to the Appreciative Inquiry interviews and my work on other assignments OD791 Missional Leadership Cohort Year 1 Allan Madsen Interviewees: a. Ingar Nergaard (+Gunn Berit Nergaard) b. Alf Erik Solbakken (+Kjellaug Solbakken) c. Aslak og Sebjørg Marie Jordheim d. Toril og Hans Vidar Sørensen e. Hilde og Leif Erik Haug 1. Information about the congregation in Hemsedal based on Appreciative Inquiry interviews. I interviewed 8 people and had my dear wife write at their dictation. 6 of them were over 50 years old – 3 grew up in Hemsedal and still lives there, 3 married into the community and the congregation; 2 of the people were in their 30’ties, one of which also grew up in Hemsedal – the other in the vicinity of Gol (nearest city). There were 5 males and 3 females. The oldest are and were very important leaders in this congregation, and one of them is even secretary general of the Sunday School in Norway! Another is the chairman of the board in the congregation – and since 1982 director of the Children’s Gospel in Hemsedal with his wife Kjellaug, who makes all the texts and music (Children’s Gospel is practically all kids in Hemsedal between 9 and 12 years of age – approximately 130 kids in 2010) I am still new as a minister here in Hemsedal, and it was very interesting to hear their stories! I am talking of really committed people who love the Lord and pay their due in the congregation – 4 of them have even been doing Sunday school and children’s work for about 30 years! 3 important observations up front: 1. The minister was only mentioned upon my inquiry – but there were some lay leaders playing major roles in the lives of the interviewees! 2. The “Youth Music” played a major role in the lives of the +50. 3. Even though some of them are very faithful to their vocation, there seems to be a notion in Hemsedal about “taking your turn”. 1. Being in a course about Leadership it was to me very strange, that the different ministers never were mentioned, unless I explicitly asked about them – and it seemed to me as if all the sermons, funerals, weddings, confirmations and baptisms weren’t even worth mentioning as something which made an impact in their lives. Having written that, it was very easy and with a good feeling I left Hemsedal to go on vacation – I could personally lower my shoulders and be assured that everything would work out fine, and be, when I come back, as if I never had left for a whole month (Study permission); but it makes you wonder about your actual role in the congregation! Different lay leaders were mentioned over and over again, and had, with their a) openness to the youth and b) their broad framework for christianity, enormous influence on the framework of faith in Hemsedal – some of which even got involved in politics and prepared the ground for political engagement of some of the young of that time. 2. The “Youth Music” in Hemsedal was the emergent reaction to the church choir of the time in the late 70’ties. They were up to 40 young people from a community of about 1500! - who toured the regions around Hemsedal with their drums and guitars, being asked to play on all kinds of rallies in “the church” – and there seemed to be no difference between the youth group as a working branch in the congregation and the “Youth Music”. They were accepted right away and not getting criticized for their style of music, and they kept playing until the beginning of the 90’ties. All the 6 +50 were participants in the choir – but not all singing, in fact you were not even supposed to could sing to be in the choir! - and all of them talked with passion about the time and their experiences and community building which was more than just fellowship; they deliberately chose to 1) rent a bus and 2) not sleep in huts - to avoid formation of cliques! 3. Some of the leaders were considerably older than the choir itself – some even in the grandparents’ state, but did not have any difficulty leaving the younger ones in charge of all, when they had taken their turn – which sometimes could be a very long term for decades. At some point or other it would always be “your turn”! Everybody had potential, but not all were that good at it – but it seemingly didn’t matter; another would soon be taking over anyway. Certain names kept coming up, some of which took charge of some of the work branches in the congregation, some of which made a name for themselves in local politics, and through that opened many doors for the gospel in the community – to some people in Hemsedal it could even be “too much christianity”! Some had the position of mayor – and today we even have the vice- mayor representing the “Christian Party”. The mayor himself sits even inn on parts of the parochial church council. 2. Reflections on how I currently perceive the church in Hemsedal I am very happy to be in Hemsedal – and I still now and then pinch my arm to see whether I’m awake or not, then it is almost too good to be true. I’m glad that when transition was due God provided a place for me here. There a fractions in the church in Hemsedal, there are liminals and emergents – and not least there is a memorable history of a high time for the current leaders of the congregation. There are challenges concerning discipleship training and when it comes to the amount of members participating in small groups. But the interviews with the leaders of the congregation shape the foundation for this church to be a missional church – I hope that they have been talking about the interviews during my vacation. 3. Reflections on my leadership concerning readiness for becoming more missional in my basic identity and in practices. To me as the “agent of word and sacraments” it is also a question, whether the reforms in the Norwegian Church are too many at one time for the people to grasp and accept; and in case we need priorities, which then are the most urgent? I am tempted to go for reforming the Sunday services! I am still in the phase of “sticking my finger in the ground” here, learning how things are done in the congregation, and as a matter of fact also doing half my regular churchly affairs in Gol as well. But I definitely am ready for becoming more missional! My “thorn in the flesh” is my patience – and if I really had once fallen prey to one of the concepts for growing churches, I would have tended to implement it right away; but fortunately I’m not a believer in systemic concepts! But I find the ideas presented about missional church most attractive – they are in line with newer pedagogic, they are helping ministers to lower their shoulders, they are based on scripture – which unfortunately is one of the foundations in the church challenged at the moment – they are as such charismatic oriented, and they are forwarding the mobilization of all the members of the congregation. 4. Comments on the theological frameworks undergirding my understanding of leadership and change. The biblical narratives gives a spectrum of ways to understand leadership, and it is true as mentioned in several of the books, that the role-model of a shepherd is the most common – and the one we were educated for! In recent business the role of a facilitator has gained increasing popularity, and so now in the missional church, looking for the charismate of the apostles (I understand apostles being defined as the ones who walked the Earth with the Son of man – and if that is the case, there can be no more apostles). I have gained much more understanding of the role of a minister in postmodernities through the books of the honorable professors – in a time of discontinuous change it is of tantamount importance to initiate a co-operation between the liminals and emergents of the local congregation (in the valley of Hemsedal there is only one!) and this is my upmost priority! The talk has started through the interviews, and I am excited to bring the interviewees together to sum up and make priorities, and I would very much want them to go on interviewing some others; and hopefully this will in turn bring some changes about in the congregation – it is of everyone’s interest that there is (remains) only one church in the valley. I need wisdom to handle the emergents, who for the most part are unhappy with the liturgical oriented services of the Norwegian Church – and to be honest, I am not too fond of it myself; but having employed a musical director who, as he says, is “playing in the Spirit”, I have much hope for the different types of services. Actually I have started talking to the emergents about an alternative arrangement, which will not take place in the church building, but in the building next to the church used for informal gatherings (“The Church House”), and will start on the Sunday afternoon on Sundays where there is no morning service (the first Sunday each month); it will be modern music, teaching for all ages (like Sunday School in America) and it starts with a meal. The group I summoned consists of emergents from different background in the church – even believers who are not members of the Norwegian Church. 5. Primary challenges in my ministry context My focus is divided as I implied earlier: a) I have to do the work the bishop expects of me – b) I would very much like to spend more time talking to different christians in Hemsedal, in the hope of being able to engage them in what God is up to in their lives. Hemsedal has an air of hope and expectation about it – different people have dreams and visions about the valley being the center of a revival in Norway; people come to me voluntarily and tell me that they would like to engage themselves in other people; many are yearning to learn more about the Lord. It will certainly be a major challenge to reform the Sunday services – I need to be careful and patient with the liminals, and I would be happy to see the changes come from the different groups working with the liturgy; I started 3 groups: 1) The main service, 2) family- and youth-services 3) the one mentioned above. Another challenge would be to develop and broaden small groups in the congregation; strangely enough there are only a few functioning – starting September we are regathering a group that formerly worked but disintegrated due to a divorce; and I would like to challenge others in our congregation (or from the church in Hemsedal) to start small group fellowships as well. Primary challenges with my leadership 1. I am a “lone wolf” type of guy, and teambuilding and teamwork is a big challenge for me - I’d much rather do the job myself; actually I would have preferred living in another century where the minister was the CEO – but I do not, I know that! And there is no way around training to be a facilitator in order to cultivate missional transformation - in myself first of all, and then in the church. I’d really like to be the leader God wants me to be – and as it is: wolves normally live in packs! - I must learn that. 2. I like to change things and do not accept status quo; but this eagerness always to do things differently, alter systems, say it “my way”, never to be satisfied with how things are is a scourge for me. It is challenging for me to get my priorities straight, when it comes to what then actually to change – I must learn that as well! As mentioned before patience is also an issue; will I be able to take the time necessary to cultivate missional transformation and not get tempted by smart programs for and good ideas about nurturing my congregation; then I am sure - even if the congregation in Hemsedal has gone a long way already – time is a key factor! But the steps have started with the interviews, and I’m sure the next will soon follow. 3. I’d like to do more discipleship training; nursing some apprentices – be the abbey (from the Irish context). I really believe that this is the road to renewing the church in order to cultivate missional transformation and being more missional myself. Having finished the MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School I started back then in the 80’ties right away in my first church having 3 guys as apprentices doing discipleship training over a period of time – it was a rich time (one of them later became a minister through the grace of God). I’d like to do that again – but I’m not sure if I have the time, in other words if that should be one of my priorities.
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