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It's time to test new ideas

It's time to test new ideas

It's time to test new ideas

11 September 2020

A community garden at Villawood Salvos in Sydney’s south-west is part of the Communities of Hope church model.

By Nicky Gangemi

Imagine you are sitting in a room discussing a topic and out of the blue someone comes up with the most incredible idea. It is not something that you would have ever thought of by yourself, but having heard it, your mindset shifts. Suddenly, the room is abuzz with new ideas including a whole new set of questions.

This is the dream of The Salvation Army Faith Communities Development (FCD) team. Across corps, the FCD team wants to see peer-learning discussions that inspire. It creates spaces for corps leaders to hear fresh ideas or gems of wisdom that they wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to hear and discuss.

“We call this idea or moment ‘the wild card’. It leads to the next question: ‘Who had the wild card in the discussion?’” says Major Sandra McLean, FCD Secretary.

These peer-learning groups are part of a twofold approach being developed by the FCD team. Peer-learning groups and webinars enable corps leaders to gather with like-minded leaders. Together, they problem-solve, inspire and support each other in their individual missions and areas. This better equips corps leaders to serve and grow their members and reach out to their communities. The approach is all about cooperative learning.

The FCD team recognises that, in the past, a prescriptive, technical approach to ‘fixing’ or equipping our churches may have worked. But now, Sandra and her team suggest that times have changed and this generation needs something different. “We need a more adaptive, collaborative approach,” she says. “No one person has all the answers or a silver bullet. We need to adapt, explore and go on a journey together.”

This is the mentality for Sandra and her team to facilitate their peer learning groups and webinars. The facilitators are not the singular expert in the field addressing the room. “The role of the facilitator is to guide the conversation in order to maximise the learning on the topic from the whole group of gathered individuals,” explains Sandra. “The facilitator brings their own expertise on the topic but is not there to deliver this knowledge. Rather, they use their knowledge to draw out the learning from the network.”

Sandra says that the COVID-19 crisis has revealed that the traditional model of church is not working for the large majority. “We have seen corps take up the opportunities that COVID-19 has provided to stop doing things that weren’t working for them and to try new innovations,” she says.

The FDC team supports faith communities at times like this, by meeting them where they are at. It helps corps leaders to turn things they have been doing out of necessity during the coronavirus time into an intentional strategy.

If you are an area officer who thinks the FCD team could facilitate some helpful discussions for your area and value-add to your missional goals, or a corps officer looking for some help to problem-solve or innovate an area of your ministry, email the FCD team at faithcommunities@salvationarmy.org.au

Nicky Gangemi is a resource writer with the Territorial Mission Support Team.

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