Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where is the Ministry?

After more than 30 years of organizational development (OD) and human resources work, I find myself serving as an OD consultant to a local UU congregation and the author of this blog. As a recently minted UU minister, I am trying to figure out what it means to do this work I love as a ministry.

In some ways OD work is naturally a ministry. You are ministering both to an organization and the individuals who make it up. To take a broader, ecological view, you are seeking to understand and support the organization and those affected by it as part of the interconnected web of existence. In business-speak, you look for employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and affected communities. In congregational consulting, you work with the members and friends of the congregation, visitors, the congregation as a whole, the committees and groups, the board and the officers, the minister(s), the staff, neighboring UU congregations and communities, the district, and the UUA. (And, I'm sure I've missed a few.)

Somewhere during my medical center chaplain residency, I recognize that my OD background was not always serving me well as a chaplain. I wrote that I needed to move my attention from the god of efficiency to the goddess of compassion.

So what does it mean to have a compassionate organizational development ministry? In this time of economic and political turmoil, this is a wonderful question. Organizations are dying right and left; individuals are losing their jobs.

Many years ago I read Healing Into Life and Death by Stephen Levine. It had a profound impact upon me. It made me recognize that our ministries aren't always about healing into life; sometimes are about healing unto death. And the "death" may not be the death of the body; it may be the death of old perspectives and beliefs.

Over at Philocrites, there is a wonderful post and comments on the question of whether UUism is or can be transformational. By claiming that UUism could guide one in growing a soul, A. Powell Davies built upon the salvation-by-character theme of William Ellery Channing.

The comments at Philocrites indicate that the word "transformation" has different meanings to different authors. I can testify to the transformational nature of UU communities and UU ministers. What are your experiences of transformation in UUism? Are their competencies possessed by UU minsters that facilitated those transformations?

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