When I was in seminary at Unity Institute, I was introduced to the Enneagram, which is a system of identifying personality types. Although at first resistant to any sort of “made-up system of putting labels on people”, I quickly found that the Enneagram was almost eerily accurate, and that the self-revelation it contained could teach me much. One of the things I learned about my personality type (I am a Seven with an Eight wing) is that I love planning, which when I thought about it, is absolutely true of me. I love planning fun things most of all (hallmark of a Seven), and I am also good at planning my work, which has served me well over the years whether I was directing a play, on a staff in the military, or serving as the minister of a church.
Even though my return to Unity of Birmingham is still eight months away, I have begun to plan. Planning for a church (at least in my mind) requires leaning pretty far forward in the saddle. Anyone who has ever been upstairs at Unity of Birmingham since I have been the minister will have noticed our strategic planning calendar, which covers the current six-month period, and the entire year beyond that. I am already considering what we will be doing in eight months, just as I would if I were in Birmingham. And I’d like your input.
One of the nice things about the digital age is the ability to stay in touch. I have heard from a few of you, some asking theological questions, and some simply checking in. And the questions have already given me ideas for a talk or two when I get back, as well as inspiring me to ask all of you, “What’s on your mind?” What sorts of questions have you considered, but perhaps not asked? What areas of our theology seem unclear? Which ones do you have a problem with? Are there any areas of theological consideration about which you have been looking forward to getting some clarity, but we just haven’t seemed to have addressed since you’ve been in Unity? Is there something that’s been heavy on your heart?
And, it is often useful to re-visit lessons that resonated, but may not be as well-remembered as we might like. Are there some things we’ve done in the past you’d like to see us go over again? (For example, the Keys to the Kingdom, the Four Agreements, Lessons in Truth, etc.) I know that I can reread certain books and certain Scriptures, and they will land a new and different way, providing more insight than they did previously. And, because we have new people coming into Unity all the time, even the basics will always be new to someone.
In addition to subject matter, I am also open to looking at the way we do church together. Had I not been deployed overseas, we would have brought in Rev. Therese Lee to help facilitate another look at our Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Strategic Plan. I would like for us to do that work when I return. Much has changed in the time since we came together as a community to chart our course, and it is time for us to gather and collectively and consciously reaffirm our direction as a spiritual community. We can also examine not just Why we do church together, but How. I want to engage in dialogue about the direction of our Small Groups. I want us to become both conscious and focused on our presence in and efforts to affect this city we call home. I want to see if we are really ready to make a difference by doing things differently. And I want to be clear that I am not advocating change merely for change’s sake, nor do I intend to lead anyone down a primrose path. What I am proposing is conscious, communal, and intentional. This simply cannot be a “me” thing, it must be a “we” thing.
One thing implicit about my planning process contained in this message I will now make explicit: I plan on returning to Unity of Birmingham, and being the minister for many years to come. And I am excited to hear about your vision for what those years may bring. Although my regular email account has been disabled for the duration of my deployment, I’d like for you to send me your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
, or message me on Facebook. You may not hear back right away, but I will respond. And together, we will build a spiritual community that can affect not only the lives of our members, but can reach far beyond our walls. Maybe we can even study the Enneagram…
With much love and many blessings,