Identify and Teach about Sub-Cultures

It has been my experience that most church leaders do not think in terms of congregational sub-cultures. I have already mentioned that we tend to treat everyone the same, not realizing that each sub-culture in the ministry has its own identity and needs. I have spoken to this dynamic during my Center Updates because it is helpful for the congregation to see and understand the implications of these unique groups within the broader context of the ministry’s culture. This is especially important when it becomes time to bring online the enhancements and upgrades that activate tipping points.

I have also mentioned that before you can evolve the community and the organization, you must first reach a tipping point. For instance, the culture of ownership (the financial and volunteer Subculturescore) is typically 20% of the congregation providing 80% of the resources. Before the church can move to the next level the culture of ownership needs to be 51% or greater since 20% is insufficient to shift the whole organization. Once the tipping point has been reached, transitioning to a higher level of functionality is possible. The biggest mistake ministry leaders make is trying to evolve the church before they reach a tipping point with respect to the culture of ownership.

Therefore, strategies to increase the numbers of individuals in ownership are essential to the activation of evolutionary drivers. Before an intentional process of cultivating greater ownership can occur, individuals within the congregation need to know which culture they occupy. Next, those who are in the culture of receivership need to see themselves distinctly–differentiating themselves from the culture of ownership. They need to see the distinction between having a relationship with the community and having a relationship with the organization. Once this is evident, ownership opportunities can enter the conversation.

Blog Ownership ReceivershipAnyone who is reading this blog is probably in ownership of their ministry. If you think back to when you were in the culture of receivership and consider what pivotal event happened that caused you to move toward greater ownership, you probably discovered that you could actually receive more by…giving. So the question is: How can we create this epiphany as a natural part of our ministry practice? Because you just can’t announce to your congregation, “give more and you will receive more”. Oops, that’s typically what we DO say! The problem is that we don’t create natural pathways for people to discover this as an effect of their own curiosity, initiative, or guidance.

It is human nature for people to move towards whatever provides them greater value and influence. If the majority of our congregation is in receivership, and they, by definition, are not very interested in the organizational, we need to begin to link their experience of the community to the well-being of the whole ministry. In other words, the quality of their community experience is directly dependent upon the health and integrity of the organization. In addition, the health and integrity of the organization is interlocked with the emotional and spiritual maturity of community members.

All of this might seem daunting, but what I have discovered is that there is an authentic interest among the majority of the congregation (both in ownership and receivership) to understand the inner workings of the ministry. For me, I want my congregation to know everything I know about the challenges and opportunities of getting to the next level. I am wanting them to understand and learn about the integral model of ministry not as a conceptual framework, but as a ministry practice that is designed to grow ownership and activate tipping points.

Jane and I want to partner with the community rather than lead the community. A partnership requires a maturity that goes beyond mutuality and teamwork. It requires a willingness to journey together and share in taking responsibility for what is seeking to be birthed. As we consider the next level for Unity Spiritual Center, while we don’t know what the next level looks like just yet, we do know how to get there. We hope you will enjoy the journey with us.

Blessings, Gary

 

 

Retraining Brains

Now that I am back in the role of minister I am finding that I have a much different approach to ministry than I had ever imagined. While I have much more insight and understanding regarding the dynamics of ministry (thanks to having an integral context) and how to take a ministry to the next level, my way of being with people and how I show up in the ministerial role is less ministerial and more as a corporate trainer or martial arts instructor.

I have also noticed that I am very aware that not everyone comes to church every Sunday. Obviously, this is just the way it is. But in the context of discovering that my ministerial style is now one of a trainer or instructor, and not as the typical pulpit minister, I find that it is much more difficult to develop a concept or build upon previous topics when some people miss services. I even mentioned this fact early on during my Center Updates, explaining that it is difficult to build a conceptual foundation regarding a principle or spiritual practice when some people have missed what I shared the previous Sunday.

Consequently, I now provide a bit of a review, so folks who missed an Update or a particular Sunday talk can be brought back up to speed. This has worked very well. People have reported that they appreciate hearing new concepts and principles multiple times. They like having the review as it helps them track new ideas more completely.

As I think more deeply into the challenge of attendance fluctuations, I can now see how difficult it is to evolve a ministry–to take it to the next level, when you only have 20 minutes or so a week to impact peoples consciousness. By impacting people’s consciousness, what I really mean is helping them create new brain maps. The key to getting to the next level, for either the individual or the organization is creating new brain maps or neural pathways congruent with Principle. This video illustrates how important it is to retrain our brains in order to evolve, loose weight, or learn a new language.

I am planning to show this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0) during my next Sunday talk and say this is what it is going to take for us to embody the art and practice of living with nothing and no one against us (our theme for the entire year). We are going to retrain our brains, create new brain maps and neural pathways consistent with the Principle that there is just God going on. Our current brain maps are hard wired for a dualistic context for meaning making. In other words, our current default self operating-system is portraying reality upside-down and backwards.

For example: It seems as if the source of our discomfort and well-being is “out there” in the realm of what happening. This is why we are compelled to have things be a certain way. But, let’s say that you hear me say, there is really no such thing as “out there.” The source of your well-being or discomfort is not external to you. You are a localized point of Source. Yet, to have access to the resourcefulness of this context (I am Source), I will need to retrain my brain to out picture a reality consistent with this Principle. I will need to learn how to ride the backwards bicycle (metaphorically speaking) because my brain can’t flip what is real to me until it acquires the map or the neural pathways to construct that reality. (If this is difficult to get you head around, read Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Dr. Joe Dispenza.) This is why spiritual practice and shadow work are so integral to emotional and spiritual development. We have to retrain how our brain constructs our reality. It take at least 21 days of continuous practice for the brain to commit to a new sequence of neural pathways.

So now each Sunday, there is a 5 – 10 minute organizational training segment that I call Center Update with Dr. Gary followed by a Sunday lesson that is linked to previous lessons. Each lesson is likely to contain a review of a previous talk. And, people are encouraged to listen to the Updates and lessons they missed online. The worship service has become a blend of celebration, fellowship, leadership training, prayer, spiritual practice and emotional & spiritual development.

According to the survey I mentioned in the last blog that was conducted as a part of the search process, only 25% of the congregation indicated participation in classes and workshops. That percentage is now closer to 50%. I believe that we are making progress with helping people understand that the spiritual journey is not a passive assimilation of ideas and doctrine, but an intentional and systematic process of remapping how our brain constructs its representation of reality.

Blessings, Gary

 

Enough of Not Enough

When Jane and I were first exploring whether or not Unity Spiritual Center would be a good fit for us, we examined the documents that were provided by the church as a part of fulfilling the requirements for the placement process. These documents included past financial statements, bylaws, a brief history of the ministry, community demographics, attendance stats, and a list of the professional competencies that the search team and board identified as additional qualifications.

In addition, I created a congregational survey that was sent out to their entire community. This survey was administered online and requested tons of info about the leadership and cultural dynamics of the church well beyond what could be provided by the documents of the placement packet.

I asked questions like: What is the one thing that you’d like the new minister(s) to change? What is the one thing that you do not want the new minister(s) to change? Are there issues from the past that are still unresolved? Are there money issues? How confident are you in the leadership of the church? Do you believe that you are ready for new ministerial leadership? What is your pattern of giving? And lots of other questions that when filtered, allowed for a comparison of the interests of those in the culture of ownership vs those in the culture of receivership. The results of the survey were shared with the all of the ministerial candidates trying out for the job.

(If you are interested in a copy of this survey, let me know via email: drgary@unityspokane.org.)

Not EnoughIt was clear to us after reviewing the survey responses, after our interviews, and after our contract negotiations that the ministry was not unlike 4 out of 5 ministries in the United States. It was dealing with a sense of “not enough” which could show up in a number of ways. Not enough money, not enough volunteers, not enough training, not enough accountability, and not enough emotional and spiritual maturity. In spite of these factors, the dynamics of Unity Spiritual Center appeared to us as normal and very typical. “Not enough” is a post-modern normal.

According to Pew Research, 4 out of 5 ministries are either in decline or have plateaued. This trend has no simple explanation, but many have linked this phenomenon to economic instability or the exodus of boomers who are finished with the “plop, pray and pay” approach to the Sunday service experience. For me, the issue is much deeper and rooted in the shadow dimension of ministry and its community.

The shadow or pain body of the ministry arises as shadow dynamics of community members inform the cultural imperatives of the ministry. For instance, if you have a community of people who all carry with them on an unconscious level a sense of not enough, lack will manifest as an organizational insufficiency because church culture arises in the context of people’s values, beliefs, issues, etc. And when the leadership of the organization tries to deal with the church’s insufficiency, they inadvertently get triggered. The church’s not enough triggers their personal sense of not enough. Ministry leaders (present company included) tend to deal with the church’s not enough the same way they deal with their own personal sense of lack–by trying to get more.

Just prior to being offered the job at Unity Spiritual Center, Jane and I were in the throws of our own sense of not enough. I hadn’t had any income for three months. We had two houses on the market that seemed unsellable. With mounting credit card debt and uncertainty about whether or not we’d get hired, we found ourselves wondering where we failed in our own practice of prosperity principles. And, with the prospects of taking a ministry that was also challenged, what had to shift within us in order to become effective leaders?

“To those who have, more shall be given. To those don’t have, even that which they have shall be taken away.”

As we waited to hear from the Board about their selection, Jane and I immersed ourselves deeply in the principle that “what we have IS our abundance.” As we focused on expanding our sense of gratitude for the abundance of good friends, expanding opportunities and as we renewed our trust in Principle, we felt a shift in our consciousness. We switched off our sense of not enough, refraining from subjecting ourselves to self-inflicted torment because the outer didn’t seem to match our inner resolve.

Our sense of not enough actually created more lack when we sought to remedy the issue by looking outside for what was missing. This is why prosperity programs have little benefit to the individual participant as well as the sponsoring ministry because the deeper sense of “I am not enough” will eclipse the spiritual practice of generosity or tithing. Until we address the shadow dimension of ourselves and of the ministry, it is difficult to create a thriving spiritual community.

I am happy to report that within a week that we were offered the job, Jane I sold our house in Lee’s Summit, received and accepted an offer on our house in Arkansas, made our move with ease and grace, and are now confident in our ability to help this community transcend any limiting belief.

In subsequent posts I will unpack this phenomenon more completely. Suffice it to say, that before shadow work can become a community-wide endeavor (it needs to be community-wide) the congregation must first get that Source is not out there.

Source

Blessings, Gary

 

Don’t Treat Everyone The Same

We are not accustomed to thinking about our congregation as an aggregate of nested sub-cultures, each with their own unique identity, characteristics, and needs. I have on a number of occasions on Sundays during my Center Update segment talked about three primary sub-cultures: Stewardship (the Board culture), Ownership (the financial and volunteer core) and the culture of Receivership (those who are participating in only community activities like the worship service, pot-lucks, celebrations, and classes).

I explained to the congregation that those who are relatively new to the church have no authentic connection to the ministry as an organization. Their interest and focus is on their experience within the context of the spiritual community, not the organization. As long as they are spiritually fed, welcomed, accepted and valued for their mere presence in the community, they hang out and journey with us for a while. In time, 90% will leave the ministry in one year. This is normal. Nothing is broken. Don’t try to board up the revolving door!

Then there are those that have been with the ministry over the years. This smaller group of faithful supporters are interested in the relational dynamics of the community as well as being concerned about the well-being of the organization. They know that the vitality of the community is linked to the health and sustainability of the ministry as a whole (community and organization).

I also explained that the culture of Stewardship (the Board) is all about taking care of business, planning, fundraising, risk management, paying the bills, setting policy, etc. This small group of volunteer leaders are tasked with the ultimate responsibility of ensuring the overall integrity of the ministry.

My guidance with respect to what I share during my Center Updates  is to help the entire congregation understand the not-so-obvious dynamics of ministry. It will be Jane and my intention to interact and work with each of the sub-cultures in a way that honors their individual identity, characteristics and needs. For instance, we will work with the board, the culture of ownership and the culture of receivership differently because each of these sub-cultures has their own context and perspective in relation to the ministry. Those in ownership have different needs that those in receivership.

Not Your Parents Offering Plate

Clif Christopher explains that the biggest mistake churches make with respect to their donors is that they treat everyone the same. Everyone gets the same announcements, the same financial report, the same donor letter, etc., when actually and depending upon the sub-culture of the donor, each will have a different expectation or need with respect to their financial involvement.

As I studied the giving patterns in this ministry, I discovered four distinct tiers among all of Unity Spiritual Center’s donors. I ended up writing a different donor letter for each group in an effort to align with their particular cultural identity.

The same principle is applied to the classes and programs Jane and I are conducting. We send out a private invitation to a class or a training to a targeted group of people. Then, we repeat the same program over and over until everyone is included. The classes and trainings are very coherent and transformational because each group’s participants are by design in the same sub-culture.

It may seem counter intuitive to treat people differently based on their financial support, involvement, tenure or stature in the ministry, but the reality is that until we align with their cultural identity we are missing their mark. We are very good at treating everyone the same, giving them the sense that they are valued and loved. We begin with this but the problem is that we end with it as well. In reality, people deep down inside don’t want to be treated the same. They want to be treated as an individual for their specific expressions of gratitude and support. When we are able to align with their identity by speaking their language, meeting them in their world-view, we succeed in creating empathy and understanding. The takeaway is that people in receivership will upgrade and become owners. And the people in ownership will become owner / partners.

Blessings, Gary

 

As Above, So Below

Next Level QuestionsAs I mentioned in my last posting, evolving the ministry–getting to the next level–requires a tipping point where there is sufficient capacity of the organization and the community to take on a new ministry practice that can actualize a new pattern of being and doing. Of course, the tipping point is only a hypothetical possibility until the elements of cultural change come into play. This requires a comprehensive picture of what the next level looks and feels like. People will need to see themselves in the same future together if there is to emerge a coherent movement towards it as well as a clear methodology for bringing it forth. In other words, people will need to be guided, led, supported, and trained as to how to BE or how to inhabit an evolved paradigm of ministry. Think of the caterpillar who may take on faith that the butterfly is its latent potentiality, but has no context for the experience (consciousness) of its future self.

To get your head around the complexity of evolving culture ask yourself this question: What is my “next level?”

How would you answer this question? And, what would your next level look and feel like? Would your next level mean greater emotional and spiritual maturity? Would it mean greater health and vitality. Would it include more money, more time, less stress or worry? Would your next level mean you are no longer a victim or would it mean healing the past?

Absent of a well defined description of what the next level is for yourself, it is unlikely that you will get there directly. Yet, once you get very clear as to what the next level looks and feels like, you can begin to define the steps (new ways of being) that move you toward a new paradigm of self expression.

Similar questions are asked and answered by those in the culture of ownership except in the context of the next level for the ministry. However, it’s not until the culture of ownership gets to 51% that the tipping point becomes a potentiality. Until then the focus needs to be on cultivating greater ownership within the ranks of the culture of receivership (those who only have a connection to the community).

The “tip” of the tipping point is the Board culture. It is also the starting place for increasing ownership. The assumption is that anyone who services on the Board is in ownership of the ministry. While this may be generally true on some level, the depth and scope of ownership is sometimes insufficient with respect to inspiring others (especially those in receivership) to care deeply about the well-being and sustainability of the organization.

In the Integral Model of Ministry, the Board’s responsibility includes developing other leaders and modeling what it looks like to be the ideal governing (voting) member. The performance (how people show up) of the community will not exceed the Board’s capacity to model by example what it looks like to be in financial integrity with respect to the support of the ministry and other practices: commitment to personal health and well-being via spiritual practice and shadow work; the application of Unity principles in the presence of challenges and opportunities; service and meaningful involvement both within and outside of the church community. If we as a Board desire a practice, trait, or quality to show up in the congregation, then we as a Board need to model it. As above, so below.

Thus begins our conversation with our Board to consider raising the bar with respect to these arenas that constitute ownership. I am pleased to report that our Board welcomes being in this crucial conversation. I think that they really get that we cannot ask the congregation to do anything that we as a Board are unable or unwilling to do.

Blessings, Gary

 

Only Those Who See the Invisible Can Do the Impossible

The challenge of taking the ministry to the next level is all about cultural and systemic evolution. When Jane and I interviewed with the Board, we made it clear that our vision for ministry was not about growing numbers or rescuing the ministry, but rather to partner with the leadership and the community to take it to the next level.

InvisibleWe did not define what we meant by “the next level” except to say that it’s a question for the entire spiritual community to answer in time. What we did explain was that our efforts would be focused on emotional and spiritual development in preparation for a process to discern what the next level might be.

During my Center Update, I shared the saying: Only those who can see the invisible can do the impossible. It could be said that the spiritual path is all about learning how to see the invisible. Organizationally, the invisible includes working with the cultural dynamics of the ministry that constitute the pattern of community life. I shared with the congregation that typically ministry leaders are not conscious of their ministry’s culture and for the most part, oblivious to the invisible dynamics of status quo, conflict norms, family system imperatives, and the various sub-cultures within the broader context of the community at large.

These sub-cultures include the culture of stewardship (the Board culture), the culture of ownership (the established financial and volunteer core) and the culture of receivership (those that are only in relationship to the community rather than both the community and organization). Each of these sub-cultures has different needs and will be in “the next level” question from a different context.

While ministry leaders may be aware of the need to evolve the cultural dynamics of the ministry, what is missing is engaging each sub-culture individually rather than working with the entire congregation as a whole when discerning the next level.

In addition, we must keep in mind that evolving culture requires a tipping point–a momentous leap into a new pattern of being and doing. It is unlikely that a tipping point can occur when the percentage of culture of stewardship and ownership is only 20% of the community.

Pareto's Principle

This necessitates growing the culture of ownership PRIOR to redefining the ministry mission and vision (the context of the next level).

Growing the culture of ownership requires an intentional process or pathway by which those who are in receivership authentically desire a more meaningful relationship with the ministry as a whole, not just the community. Future blogs will unpack the complexities of this process.

This Center Update concluded with sharing that the goal for the tipping point is 51% in ownership. The “how to” grow the culture of ownership will also be addressed in future blogs. Suffice it to say, evolving the culture of the ministry takes time and happens as an effect of growing the emotional and spiritual maturity of the community.

Blessings, Gary

 

 

 

Co-Ministry

Its been 18 years since I have been in center ministry. While Jane and I are co-ministers, each half-time, but together fulfilling one paid position, we got clear that it is important that we eachSHARED ROLE focus on our passions with respect to the role of senior minister. During one of my Center Updates, I shared how Jane and I have divided up the responsibilities of the senior minister role. We thought it helpful for the congregation to understand  the many areas of responsibility that constitutes the job of minister. Most people only imagine the minister’s job as speaking on Sundays,  teaching classes, visiting the homebound, and conducting the occasional wedding, memorial, or christening.

As you can see, once all of the duties and responsibilities are mapped out, the Venn diagram illustrates that Jane and I are only doing the things we are passionate about. With everything on Jane’s side, I am either not good at, or just barely, or can do, but with little passion. And vice versa for Jane with my stuff.

The congregation as well as the leadership found this helpful both in understanding the distribution of responsibilities as well as in appreciating the complexity of our job. We also explained how time at the office would be staggered with each of us at the Center two week days in addition to Sundays and classes.

The other benefit of this sharing is that the community learns the difference between passion and competence.Passion

When we are not passionate or excellent at a particular task or responsibility, we lose energy, become stressed, and tire more quickly. But when we focus on doing what we are very good at or passionate about, we actually create energy and produce healthy anti-stress hormones. We wanted our community to understand that Jane and I are committed to fulfilling our duties, but only in the context of our passions, gifts, and authentic callings. Fortunately for us and our congregation, the very things that I dislike or have no passion about, Jane is totally all over.

Jane absolutely loves people and all things that serve, support, and lift up. Now its not to say that I don’t care about these things, its just that I am not passionate about them. I’d rather be figuring out a way to create a sustainable organization than thinking about sacred service or who needs to receive a thank you note. I guess what I am trying to say is that our co-ministry is the best of both worlds. From our perspective, Jane and I have the perfect job and Unity Spiritual Center has the perfect ministerial presence. Truly a match made in heaven and something that will be fun to watch as we take ourselves to the next level.

Blessings, Gary

 

 

 

Order of Service

Every new minister who arrives at a new assignment knows to be weary of making too many changes that alter the pattern of relationships or experiences in the community as one may inadvertently trample on the sensibilities of the established core. And so, how shifts or enhancements come into being is key to anything new or different being valued and welcomed.

heresthechurchDuring our tryout visit, we noticed that first time guests were welcomed early in the service followed by a meet and greet activity. I have known for some time that according to “best practices” it is better to welcome guests toward the end of the service not near the beginning. This allows first time visitors to have an experience of the service before being asked to identify themselves as first-time guests.

Once we arrived to begin our ministry, we asked that the acknowledgment of first time guests happen just prior to the offertory. This way they can be invited to fill out a guest info card and then asked to place it in the offering bag instead of feeling obligated to make a donation. They are also told that, as a first time guest, they can receive a complementary CD of the service a beverage at our Barista.

What happened next was not anticipated, but a very cool unintended consequence of making this minor change in the order of service. Our communications director (paid staff person) routinely creates an AV script for the sound booth technician music team, and platform volunteers as our service is relatively high tech with respect to PowerPoint, lighting, and sound levels. Anyway, I digress. Much to my surprise, not only did she make this change in the AV script, but she also moved the meet and greet activity as well (since they were already bundled) in our order of service. And so,  the welcoming of first-time guests happen just before the offering as planned, but unbeknowst to us, the meet and greet activity happened next.

Now, its been my experience, that meet and greet (sharing of the peace) happens early in the service in most ministries. I have never really liked the meet and greet part of the service as it feels contrived and not very authentic (at least that’s what I typically feel). Being an introvert makes this activity even more unappealing. But, everything changes when people greet each other AFTER they have had the experience of the meditation and lesson. The difference in how people interact and engage the process of welcoming and greeting each other is both inspiring and transformational. People absolutely loved interacting with each other, especially immediately after the experience of a dynamic and inspiring talk.

We received so many positive comments from the community from the very first Sunday this change in the order of service went into effect. The experience lasts about 5 minutes. People reluctantly settle down after we resume the fellowship song.

Here is our current order of service:

  • Musical Prelude
  • Opening Affirmation (There is only one presence and one power active in my life and in the universe, God the Good) This means that nothing and no one is against us. So we are here today to deal with our exceptions to this principle.
  • Fellowship Song
  • Community Announcements
  • Center Update with Dr. Gary (more about this later)
  • Meditation Song
  • Meditation
  • Special Music
  • Sunday Lesson
  • Acknowledgment and Welcoming of first time guests
  • Fellowship song followed by meet and greet
  • Offertory Affirmation
  • Special Music
  • Blessing of tithes and gifts
  • Introduce Chaplains
  • Welcoming & Blessings of Children and Youth Educators
  • Closing Prayer (Prayer for Protection)
  • Peace Song
  • Benediction

One other unexpected benefit: the number of guest info cards returned to us has tripled since this change went into effect. It seems that people are more inclined to provide their contact info AFTER they have had the complete experience of participating in the service.

Blessings, Gary

A Bit of Context

Gary HS 2015It was very clear that when the Board offered us the position of senior minister of Unity Spiritual Center Spokane that they felt very confident in our ability to take the ministry “to the next level.” For me, personally, this became an opportunity for me to share all of the program elements that I had created for the Pilot Program with Unity Spiritual Center.

For so many years, my critics have correctly asserted that I have never put my theories into practice with my own ministry; that my ideas about integral ministry arts have been theoretical and not field-tested or proven. While the Pilot Program has been a momentous learning experience for those connected with the design and implementation of the Transformation Experience, much of what these ministries experienced was, indeed, truly evolutionary. Since the program’s conclusion in 2012, much thought has been given to repackaging the successful program elements into modules that others could use. Several guidebooks will be available next month from Unity Worldwide Ministries as resources to ministry leaders interested in utilizing these successful modules.

What this means is that Unity Spiritual Center will become the benefactor of the programs that I have created that have been field-tested and proven successful. In other words, I am unleashed! I get to demonstrate the value and efficacy of what has taken my entire ministerial career to formulate and create.

With this said, the voice of Spirit has informed me that, while my work has been significant and ground-breaking, it (my work) has simply got me to where I am now. My mission is not necessarily a matter of simply bringing the Transformation Experience to Unity Spiritual Center, but rather partnering with this community and leadership to take it to the next level. My past experience has given me skills, insights, understandings, vision, and an integral lens through which to see how to evolve the cultural and systemic dimension of ministry. Yet, I am discovering now that I am in the role of “consultant / guide”, that there is no linear path to second-tier and that the deeper breakthroughs happen in the context of being Spirit-led rather that “module motivated.”

This means that I am starting over in so many ways at being a minister. It’s been 18 years since I have served in this capacity. And, after 35 years of ministry, I believe I am now sufficiently awake, grown-up, and clear enough to be successful. It is now obvious to me that my co-ministry with Jane and Unity Spiritual Center is one finding the “sweet spot” where Spirit guides us along this journey rather than Jane or I thinking that it is up to us. The best thing is that this community is really ready to get to the “next level.”

In the months to come, getting to the next level will be a central theme of this blog. But, there is still more context and background that is needing to be declared in order for everything to make sense. My hope is that this sharing will provide ideas, insights, and conversations that support the success and well-being of our ministries and their leaders.

Blessings, Gary

Welcome to Integral Ministry Arts

Gary Simmons, Th.D.
Gary Simmons, Th.D.

Jane and I began our co-ministry at Unity Spiritual Center Spokane Easter Sunday, 2015. I have received guidance that I should begin this blog to chronicle our approach to taking this ministry to “the next level”.

I initiated a new element to our Sunday worship service liturgy called Center Update with Dr. Gary. It is for the purpose of sharing context for cultural and systemic evolution, what I call “getting to the next level.”

So right off, I want to say that what the next level is, is the question–for both the ministry and individuals within the ministry. I will not be able to describe the next level for this church until we arrive. But the journey is what this blog is about.

In future posts, I will share our beginning efforts to “set the stage” for “getting to the next level conversations”, and the activities, programs, and trainings that will comprise our support of creating a new ministry practice which I have called the Integral Model of Ministry.

While I refer to “our” and “us” meaning Jane and me, these posts will reflect my strategy and learnings regarding evolving a ministry from first to second-tier.

Blessings, Gary