Here are the notes from our Community Building meeting that took place on January 15th, 2018.
Scott facilitated the meeting and he began with an overview by saying a few things:
He and I (Teresa) have thoughts and intentions in our head that it might be helpful to state to the group. One of those is that we think building community requires intentionality, and we want to consider upping our community-wide intentionality. He followed that up with an example. Back in the olden days of NSC, we had a welcoming team. Once we got in the building we didn’t continue that practice – who knows why. Partly it felt like the space was small and we’d bump into each other naturally. Years into it, with a couple people tell us that they felt under-greeted, we see this as a good moment to up our greeting skills. Again.
Scott reminded us that we have no grandiose plans, but in fact a really small and invaluable mission – and it is good to move in small, incremental next right steps toward our goals. This is consistent with our philosophy of almost everything – small next right steps. Progress over perfection. When we have these meetings (rarely), they aren’t to make major changes, just small tweaks. We don’t expect major changes to come out of a community meeting – that would be too grandiose to be recovery friendly.
But we are encouraging a few next right steps…
Our mission is to be warm and supportive and helpful to those that come to us looking for resources and hope. In order to do that, we need our old-timers to practice the power of presence so we can reach, receive, and retain any new-comers. We “retain” not so we can grow numbers but so that we are truly providing the community at large the support it so greatly needs.
Presence is a form of service. He reminded us that there is power in our presence – and by virtue of the fact that we show up, we are doing something quite lovely and important. We wouldn’t exist if folks didn’t show up! People wouldn’t feel at home or receive help if people didn’t show up. Weekend services, groups – all places where we add value by sharing and faithful showing up.
Finally, he noted a tendency in all churches, as evidenced by an example from Eugene Peterson (author of the Message translation of the Bible), to shrink when they don’t have an explicit agenda at a moment in time. This is a tendency we will constantly battle because we are committed to being laser-focused on our calling: providing recovery education and faith-based community to people with recovery issues (and the like). We, as a community, will continue to seek small next right steps. This is in-keeping with recovery principles which teach us that life and faith are not about becoming addicted to adrenaline and grandiose achieving but, instead, to powerful presence through showing up for one another.
Following this conversation, we entered into an “ongoing brainstorming” session about the kinds of service opportunities we have already in place – we asked the group if there was anything on the list they wanted to eliminate. We talked about how there were components to our partnerships like Rams in Recovery, The Healing Place, Caritas, and our Family Education Program Partners that is behind-the-scenes work, but wanted the group to know it was significant – including plans for service when The Women’s Healing Place opens up. No one voiced interest in ending our current commitments.
Tami talked about having an interest in serving more – which of course is cause for celebration! She said sometimes she doesn’t know what those opportunities are. We chatted briefly and then the next slide in the presentation provided an overview of a bunch of stuff that could be extremely helpful. Here are some examples:
a. Schedulers for things like the bus and other on-going events where reminders are necessary for volunteers. Helping organize sign-up sheets was another example.
b. Editing work for blogs and other writings.
c. Social media/marketing support.
d. Event hospitality
e. Prison Ministry
f. Bus drivers – big need.
g. Supply gatherers – going to the store and getting our supplies for the monthly lunches, staples for weekend services (drinks, etc.)
h. Video – Scott is looking for folks with certain experiences to be willing to tape a video of their experience for the website.
i. Community meal – in an effort to increase our capacity to connect without an agenda, we are going to host a monthly meal, potluck, on one Monday evening a month.
In response: We are currently working on finding software that is a good fit for us in managing volunteers and service work. Our goal is to end up with a system that makes it easy to participate and easy to see where there are gaps. This should be settled within the next week or so.
Habitat for Humanity came up as something we used to do and would like to do again. We have volunteers who are checking on options for re-engagement.
Someone else mentioned that they would like us to consider doing a retreat of some sort.
Sally brought up a good point about receiving information and we are looking into ways to up that visibility. Teresa made note that it has proven a challenge to get people to respond to announcements – always a challenge. But we’ll all keep trying.
Folks were encouraged to take initiative in a couple of ways: Be aware that your presence is your vote about keeping or ditching a program. If we get no/low attendance, we drop the offering. We think dropping things is fine – no need to keep doing things that folks are not interested in supporting.
The group was encouraged to take initiative in asking to take a lead, or provide support, or utilize their passion/strength. We deliberately do not try to push volunteer projects on folks. We believe this supports decent recovery principles. Speak up about things you’d like to do and the community will do its best to utilize ideas that fit our capacity and mission scope.
That’s it. Please contact us if you have further questions or great ideas! Or you want to volunteer and need suggestions for places you can plug in!