By Eddie Pipkin

December 22, 2017

This blog, which will close out my entries for the tumultuous year that was 2017, will be the 46th blog I have shared with you in the past 12 months.  If you are a loyal reader, thanks!  If you are an occasional reader, thanks!  If you’re a first-time reader, thanks!  I looked back over the ideas we’ve shared together, and today in this space, we’ll highlight some of the recurring themes, as well as some of my favorite posts.  The whole point of these columns from week to week is for us to gain insights into ministry trends and best practices, mixed with occasional quirky observations about things we overlook in our rush towards ministry perfection.

First off, just looking back to some of my favorite posts of the year, I would recommend the following:

  • “Ten Meter Tower,” which grew out of a wonderful short video from some German researchers into the variety of approaches that different people used to talk themselves into leaping from a high dive platform. It’s a revelation and provides some great ministry connections:

“[W]e repeatedly express the importance of people making leaps towards new connections, new experiences, and deeper spiritual growth if they are to become yoked to a faith community.

People must develop several meaningful relationships to truly feel part of the faith community.

People must be stretching themselves spiritually and experiencing significant growth to truly feel the value of their faith community.

Sixty-seven people went to the high platform in the “Ten Meter Tower” film, and in the end, some 70% took that leap into the unknown.  How are the new people in your ministries doing in their “leap percentage” (and how often are you jaded, longtime leaders making new leaps of your own)?”

  • “The iiwii Audit,” which deconstructed the popular phrase, “It is what it is,” and argued that those words, left unchallenged, are a ministry killer. It closed with a meditation that is worth its weight in gold as we think about our accomplishments and struggles in 2017 and look ahead to 2018 (quoting from Portia Nelson’s “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” from The Romance of Self Discovery:

“Chapter One of My Life. I walk down the street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in.  I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault. And it still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit! My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter Four. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five. I walk down a different street.”

  • “Roadside Couch,” which sprang from my mid-year fascination with abandoned furniture to consider the obvious opportunities we are missing in ministry:

“There is a ministry lesson here: there are many opportunities that are right under our noses, and we miss them just because we aren’t fully paying attention.  This is true both for people we have an opportunity to serve, as well as people who are looking for opportunities to be servants.  We get so caught up in the habits of our ministries, in our perspective of the world we move through as leaders, that we cruise right by these opportunities.  They can be as obvious as a piece of perfectly good furniture stuck directly in the right-of-way, but because they are not what we’re looking for at the time, we don’t even acknowledge them.”

There were blogs that gleaned leadership lessons from the words and experience of the famous:

  • “Insights from Out of this World,” which drew from the wisdom of astronaut Scott Kelly’s year in space to explore how accomplishment is most often the accumulation of many small things done well.
  • “How Elon Sees the World,” which focused on the philosophy of tech visionary Elon Musk, as he breaks seemingly unsolvable challenges into manageable bites and asks, “Why not?”
  • “No Left Turns,” which considered UPS’s policy of strongly discouraging its drives from making left-hand turns to make the point that “sometimes the most obvious option is not the best option.”

There were blogs that focused on my slight obsession with millennial-think:

There were blogs that asked questions for institutional soul-searching about community engagement:

You might as well just set aside one of these slow holiday recovery days and peruse the whole blog listing.  You’ll find entries on using technology effectively, techniques for boosting creativity, and tips for capitalizing on your unique personality as a congregation.

The new year, 2018, is just around the corner, so let us know what kinds of topics you’d like to see us explore in the 12 months ahead.  Share your favorite insights, ways in which we’ve been helpful, and ideas for how we can be more so in the comments section.  And in the meantime, a blessed and happy new year to you!