Holy Curiosity: Spiritual Posture of Adaptive Congregations

I was amazed at their creativity.
We were a couple hours into the seminar on Leading Adaptive Change in Your Congregation, when this happened. First we explored our current ministry context in North America, recognizing church-as-we-have-known-it is losing currency. At the same time, strong faith movements within churches are rising up (church-as-it-is becoming). This group, gathered for their annual denominational meeting, was all too aware of this major shift in how we are church.

Before engaging the eight key practices of adaptive congregations, we stepped back, considering our faith. When we pray, we often literally position ourselves into a posture of some sort. Head bowed with eyes closed is more typical than not. In the same way, we tend to live spiritual postures as we go through our days. Churches and denominations collectively are living their spiritual posture all the time. So, we introduced the recommended spiritual posture for those congregations and denominations who aspire to proactive adaptation in their ministry contexts: Holy Curiosity.

I asked the participants to help me identify words which describe curiosity, resulting in this list:
open, seeking, active, engaging, inquisitive, confident, proactive. To help clarify, they identified words describing behaviors in congregations when curiosity is not present…anxiety (fight or flight), anger, blame, control, etc. Then we considered how the qualifier “Holy” changes our understanding of curiosity. When we drill down into our faith we find the power, love, grace, and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord. When we connect with God, experiencing these gifts, the negative attitudes and behaviors identified above shrink. This is what empowers a church or denomination to grow curious; our faith in God. Faith-Based Curiosity or Holy Curiosity opens the door for spiritual and organizational movement.

The creative fun part came next. Participants were placed in groups who’s assignment was to demonstrate the spiritual posture of Holy Curiosity. Immediately lively chatter and funny movements erupted as they acted this out. Watching them demonstrate holy curiosity, each group in turn, included great laughter and fun, while also a deep awareness of something sacred. There’s no way to summarize these demonstrations, given their variability and creativity. Suffice it to say, they exceeded my expectations in creative engagement.

So what about your congregation or denomination? What is your collective spiritual posture these days? For those eager to follow the Spirit’s leadership into the next expression of being church, this Holy Curiosity engagement activity may help your movement. The reverse is also true. Those congregations and denominations resistant to adaptation adopt postures designed to discourage curiosity or questions (arms folded over the chest, intimidating looks, turning away from others and the world). One could easily design several movements with this activity for a church, identifying its current posture and the posture to which we aspire.

May we be faith-based disciples, who banish the fear, growing open and engaging with the world around us, through the powerful love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark Tidsworth, President PLA