I spent Monday-Wednesday of this week learning how to be a facilitator of the Healthy Congregations program (developed by Peter Steinke).
Healthy Congregations is based on the work of Dr. Murray Bowen in Family Systems Theory, a theory I’ve studied before but had mostly forgotten before I took the primer on Monday morning. The Bowen theory resonates with me as a student of interpersonal relationships and church. I’ve always been a sociologist and student of all things psychological, and I especially love learning about how and why people relate to each other the way that they do and because of that this intense class was right up my alley.
By the end of the 3 days, I had developed a callus on my index finger where the pen made contact (because I took actual notes rather than typing this time). My eyes were tired. My brain was tired. I knew a lot more about myself, my church and the program.
Things I was challenged to do::
1. Resist triangles: I tend to be a person that people come to discuss other people. Like, “Wait until you hear what soandso said about suchandsuch.” People like to gossip to me or try to get me to validate their anger/frustration/anxiety/hurt.
2. Control my own anxiety in situations of conflict and uncertainty. This is a big one.
3. Although I’ve definitely matured and have become more self-differentiated over the years, I still have a bit to go when it comes to taking words and reactions personally. This includes realizing that the way people react to me or my words often has more to do with what’s happening for them personally and not as much with me. I heard someone say recently “Hurt people hurt people.” I’ve been turning that over in my head since then. It’s true, isn’t it?
4. Consider all the ways our family system has probably messed Jonas up and attempt to fix that. (haha, just kidding kind of. But seriously, consider how the healthy or unhealthy ways you think about various subjects is influenced by your family of origin.)
5. Study more by reading through all of the material and some of the books related to this topic.
Things I feel good about:
1. The concepts and ideas presented all “clicked” and registered and I feel like everything I learned will be valuable from here forward.
2. Since I left Montreat, I’ve had 2 phone calls from friends needing advice in areas of church leadership and I felt like I was actually able to help, even if was just through being able to talk their situations through with each friend.
3. I think teaching this class is something I will do well. I suppose the members of Presbyterian Church Henderson will find out soon enough as John and I are sitting down next week to look at the material and calendars and figure out when we will start implementing the program!
I do plan to do some studying and thinking about how these concepts relate to
- Our church family
- The non-profits I serve
- Youth Ministry (I’m thinking a blog series on Youth Ministry and Family Systems after I’ve had adequate time to think about that?)
- My own family (families, really)
It was a great place to spend three days with some wonderful friends.
“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” –Rabbi Hillel