This large-ish question appeared on my radar this week. Thank you, Lori Schilling, for meeting with me Wednesday and your willingness to tell your story and have a delightful conversation with someone new. It was from our conversation that this question emerged for me. I also need to thank Doug Nathan for suggesting that I connect with Lori. Lori and I sat in a bakery on Bainbridge Island for two hours Wednesday. She’s amazing. My goodness, is everyone on this island amazing?! Seems to be the case. But I digress… Among the many things Lori does (mom, learner, community builder, educator, etc.), she’s a member of the New Life non-denominational Christian church, and I was there to learn about what’s working in this large, happy, growing, and new-traditional organization. The story of the church—and the amazing small groups within it—will most likely appear in the Different Work eBook series that Bas and I are writing now. Lori, I am so grateful for you and our discussion. Thank you!
Now, in a move uncharacteristic for me, I’m going to be brief on this subject. These are my initial thoughts based on my conversation with Lori and my reflection on her story amongst all the communities, self-organizing groups, and individuals I study and am part of. Let me know what you think!
What matters most about us as community?
As community we:
- Create space in which self-organizing groups can more easily form and thrive
- Cause people, including strangers, to feel welcome and that they belong
- Never stop learning and teaching ourselves how to support ourselves and others in feeling welcome and that we belong
- Experience abundance
What matters most about us as small self-organizing groups?
As small self-organizing groups we:
- Create space in which individuals can more easily thrive
- Expose our own needs and motivate ourselves to continue building connections
- Bring our individual vulnerabilities* out into the open, experience and move with/through them together, and transform them into learning, power, and action
- Create resilient relationships and intimacy that binds us together and persists even after the group ends*
- Expand the boundaries of community as the individuals within them expand their own boundaries
- Make our communities, and individual selves, stronger*
- Experience deep gratitude
What matters most about us as individuals?
As individuals we:
- Are vulnerable, make mistakes, experience humility and fear, and need help—all of which are connection points that make self-organizing groups and community necessary and possible
- Recognize and name self-organizing groups and community
- Identify and protect the boundaries of ourselves as individuals, self-organizing groups, and community
- Experience awe, wonder and delight
*Lori said something similar to this right off the top of her head—indicating to me that she is clearly part of amazing community and small groups!!