It was brilliant to be together at Swanick last week with 70+ practitioners and leaders from across the Fresh Expressions movement.
We spent time thinking on the subject of leadership and vulnerability and as if to practice that, had a powerful open time at the end of the gathering – sharing thoughts and questions in an honest, open handed and real way.
The gathering began with two excellent sessions from Nigel Rooms. Nigel opened up the dynamics of the material he teaches for Partnership for Mission Church and had us thinking about fractals, technical and adaptive challenges and vulnerable leadership.
One of the highlights was when we tried to replicate ‘mumurations.’ These are the beautiful sweeping movements that flocks of birds make by moving towards the centre of a flock. This fun exercise (below) helped us understand how leadership works and particularly how we are better served by creating places where there are easy ways in and easy ways out for those on the outside. Do we create structures in church which sometimes make it great to be ‘in’ but hard for others to reach in?
Our first evening was filled with brilliant chats and time to be together. We were pleased this time to provide focused conversations around wellbeing and mental health too.
Then on the second day we heard four brilliant stories of local leadership with vulnerability. Beth Honey, Sue Steer, Ben Lucas, and finally Sarah Collins together with Stephen March. These were four different, varied and excellent stories. Beth shared stories of discipleship – committing to involve people and sharing what they had. Sue shared stories of new communities and a sometimes tough journey from starting to building. Ben was vulnerable about his ministry, his knowledge of those around him and showed a wonderful willingness to learn from God. Then Sarah and Stephen shared Leicester’s stories of new pioneers, communities of support and hope for the future.
We each had the opportunity to then hear more from one of the four speakers. It was a valuable and deep time of learning.
Finally, Tim Lea left the floor open for people to share questions, hopes, dreams. This was a very poignant time. We finished by considering “who’s not returned” after coming to one of these gatherings. How can be even more of a movement, even more a network of practitioners empowering each other.
It’s great to journey with you all.