August 22, 2019
Dear AIIM members:
This Summer the Center for Congregational Health, Chris Gambill and I have been focused on researching and writing a grant proposal for the Lilly Endowment on Thriving Congregations. That proposal is due today! We are excited to have prepared, with the help of many others, those documents to be submitted. Yesterday, we were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief as we refined our draft to the point of declaring it ready (not necessarily finished/complete….there is always room for improvement)! We express a special “Thank you” to Dawn Hall and Robin Danner for their support, help and encouragement in this endeavor.
I have come to believe that in Thriving Congregations, the participants/members practice kindness toward each other and beyond the membership. Kindness is not necessarily a marker of thriving (maybe it should be), however it shows up in many places that are indications of thriving, such as managing conflict, engaging in community, practicing spiritual growth and nurture, and even in setting and holding boundaries. Also, I believe that in our very challenged social climate, congregations practicing kindness can model behavior for a better and healthier society.
Following are several articles and a podcast about the simple act of kindness and how kindness changes things with positive effect. Many of these articles are based in the workplace or in the classroom; congregational life encompasses the workplace and the classroom and goes beyond those entities as well. As you read the articles and listen to the podcast reflect on how congregations can improve congregational life, even (maybe, especially) during times of transition, impacting each of those markers of a Thriving Congregation.
Karen Liebenguth’s article, Leadership: why kindness is an underrated quality at work, provides some simple steps for leaders to impact the culture by practicing kindness with co-workers and colleagues.
Liz Jazwiecis author of Eat That Cookie!: Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off … For Individuals, Teams and Organizations (2009), has an article suggesting 5 ways to Start a Kindness Revolution at Work.
PositivePsychology.com has wonderful resources for helping people of all ages with Empathy and Kindness. 40 Kindness Activities & Empathy Worksheets for Students and Adults provides an extensive resource for classrooms, teachers, families and leaders of any group.
The Kindness of Jesus, is a blog by Pamela Williams inviting the reader to remember that Jesus practiced kindness, to all people especially those that society pushed to the margins.
Blessings on you and the people and places where you are serving. As you read, listen and reflect on kindness may you make a difference on the many people around you and may there be a ripple effect of your kindness.