People Like Us

written by Kat Bair
6 · 20 · 24

We were in a Ministry Incubators staff meeting the other day, and a new teammate was introducing herself. When Mark DeVries asked her why she joined the team, she said,

“All my career, people have always said I had too many wild ideas, that I was always trying to do something that was too out there. I just always felt like ministry should be fun! Then I met Mark, and Kenda, and it was like, wow. There’s people out there who are like me, there’s people out there who are crazy as I am. There are people who make ministry fun!”

We describe our work culture and ethos as “playful excellence.” We handle a lot of spreadsheets and presentations, we move quickly and place high value on outcomes and accountability, but we also are deeply playful. We believe that partnership with God in the work of innovation should be creative, energetic, and yes, fun. The Spirit is playful, moving in all kinds of unexpected directions, and through it, we are given the permission, the love, the grace, the imagination to be as well. Why can’t ministry be fun? Why can’t we chase whatever sets our hearts on fire? 

You are reading this blog because, no matter who you are, or where you work, you resonate with that. You wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t some part of you that yearns to have a bit more of that wild Spirit spark in your ministry. You are one of us, and you are not alone. You may be the only one at your church or in your conference, but you aren’t the only one. 

And it can be hard to feel like the only one in your context, but here’s the good news, people can come around. Once people see what is possible, they can garner a taste for more and more of that wild freedom, that fun, that the Spirit invites us to in our work. 

So, how do we create that freedom for others? How do we give them a taste of what we have seen? 

  1. Tell stories

People don’t know what they don’t know, and as it says in Isaiah, and as Paul quotes in Romans, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Kenda Dean, as part of her work at Princeton, created the Hatch Deck, a card deck with the stories of faith-friendly social entrepreneurs all over the country. And throughout this blog, you’ll find dozens of stories of clients who have created something, big or small, that has changed their communities for the better.  

  1. Encourage Imagination

Once people have been exposed to the stories of all the ways the Spirit has worked elsewhere, let it inspire imagination of what the Spirit could be doing in your own midst. People tend to think their community is uniquely incapable of the kind of transformation they have seen elsewhere, and we promise its not. We use a lot of games to help people break through the crust of “that could never work here” and “that might work for them but we…” particularly Ripple Effect. That game helps people collaboratively understand the interrelatedness of problems in their context, and of the solutions they feel called to. Once they realize what a single change could do, they may begin to see their context’s problems more compassionately, and the invitation to engage with them more hopefully.

  1. Give permission

Even once people have been exposed to the idea of the kind of change that is possible, and have imagined some of the possible work they could be invited into, people can get stuck thinking that they have to do it perfectly on the very first try. The fact is, the style of design thinking we promote with churches encourages iteration, prototyping, and changing our minds. In our standard Hatchathon cycle, 6 months after a project has hatched, leaders regather at a Pivot Retreat to address and rethink through all the things that inevitably changed and shifted since the idea was launched. We can encourage this kind of low-stakes, iteration-oriented thinking from the beginning with games like Blow Up Your Idea!, a card deck with thought-provoking (and yes, fun) prompts like “How would your idea be impacted by an alien invasion?” and “How could your idea incorporate fanny packs?” Granting permission for silliness, for trying something imperfect, for taking a first step before you know every twist and turn of the journey, is vitally important in allowing this process to actually be fun! 

How have you encouraged a mindset that allows for play, for fun, and for experimentation? What difference has it made in your community? Let us know! If you’re looking for a jumpstart, check out the products linked above, or contact us if you’re interested in talking to one of our team about how we can work together!

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Kat Bair

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