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Alternate Activity 2: On the Brink of Big Change (40 minutes), Workshop 10: Understanding Systems In Your Congregation

In "Harvest the Power," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • If you have not already done so, copy Handout 1 for all participants.
  • Read Activity 2, Applying System Thinking, to become familiar with how to diagram a congregational issue or challenge from a system perspective.
  • Post a sheet of blank newsprint.
  • Prepare, but do not post, a sheet of newsprint with these questions:
    • Does system thinking point to any larger questions our leadership and congregation might want to address?
    • Has something unbalanced the system?
    • What are management questions? What might be the leadership questions?
    • What might be some next steps for the leadership and the congregation to take?

Description of Activity

Use this activity to lead a system analysis of your congregation's real life, including a planned major change such as a ministerial transition, a new worship service schedule or addition or removal of program staff positions. Follow the process outlined for the Heavenly Unitarian Universalist Congregation scenario in Activity 2, except that you may want to keep the leadership together rather than forming small groups.

Tell the group they will examine their congregational challenge from a system perspective. With input from participants, diagram on newsprint all those affected, directly or indirectly, by the change. Diagram the relationships (see Activity 2). Invite the group to consider the emotions involved in the relationships. Take 20 minutes to create the diagram.

Post the questions you prepared and distribute paper and pens/pencils. Invite participants to consider the posted questions and write their responses individually on paper. Allow 15 minutes.

Now invite participants, one at a time, to share what they have written. List the responses on newsprint as they are shared to document the group's collective thinking on the congregation's current challenge. Engage the group in making plans to continue the conversation and seek ways to move forward.

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Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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