this may seem a strange theme to follow on from refounding but it's equally a theme on creativity in lots of peoples writing and in my own experience. perhaps an example is the easiest way to get at this...
i vividly remember feeling that grace had got stuck some years back and that we needed to stop the way we were doing things in order to be able to find something new. in practice this meant stopping weekly meetings and letting go of what we were doing. we had a grace service where we wrote down things that we held dear about grace on plates and smashed them and the word grace on a mirror was smashed with a sledge hammer. this was in part inspired by ikon's service at greenbelt exploring eckhart's god rid me of god prayer. what felt scary about this was that we hadn't worked out what came next and had to trust it would emerge. our sense was that until you let go of the old or in some cases kill it the new simply can't emerge. it would be so much simpler and safer and easier of course if you did know what came next but it just doesn't work like that! and often that season of limbo goes on longer than you think.
writers variously call this experience liminalty (maybe being in limbo is a more common way of expressing it - inbetween), darkness, chaos, unknowing. jenny wrote a couple of brilliant pieces of liturgy that captured this moment in grace - we are creatures of comfort and god of broken people and places . i love the line - nothing good or creative emerges from business as usual...
the most extreme version of this is death! i was reminded of this in a quote from steve jobbs that was all over the papers this last week following his own death where he says that death clears out the old to make way for the new. jesus said something similar (i am not for a moment trying to equate the two persons btw!) - unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seed. but it needs wisdom to know what needs to die and when and i have no idea how you discern such things or persuade others.
here's a couple of quotes from arbuckle on this (yes sorry there had to be a quote)
To sit in the liminality or the darkness/chaos of not knowing without distractions or the escapism of busyness is the way to new insights. (in refounding the church)
Though experiences of this kind can be confusing, even terrifying, paradoxically contact with chaos or the world of the unpredictable or the unkown is critical if there is to be creativity in life or culture. Innovative scientists, poets, philosophers, artists, refounding people of organisations or cultures, all have one thing in common: they venture into the unkown, into the unpredictable, into chaos, in search of new meanings or new ways of doing things.(in out of chaos:refounding religious congregations)
it sounds straightforward enough but it takes courage to be in this space and to lead others into this space. the temptation is to try and curtail it and move on. it's especially difficult if you have no money and others dependent on you asking for some strategy wondering what on earth is going on! i can think of a couple of people who are training with us as pioneers at cms who have been in this sort of a space or scenario in the last year. out of it has come and is coming wonderful new things and this phase was crucial to that. but it's a hard journey at times. as leaders it requires the ability to live with unknowing and chaos. and in the letting go of the old, communities often need space to grieve what is being lost, before they are ready to move towards the new. it was instinctive at the time but ritualising this moment in grace really powerfully helped us let go and greive and eventually embrace the new out of which so much life has come.