I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I posted on the Churchwork blog. Today, I’m happy to share a guest post from friends serving a congregation in my diocese. I had never heard of Strategic Doing or homebrew for the vigil. I thought readers would be intrigued by the possibilities. I am! – Nurya
Holy God, creator of all good and beneficial things from this earth you have created. We recognize the abundance from which all things come of you, including this grain,these hops, this water, and these friends. Bless and sanctify this offering, we pray, to be a blessing to your people. May it be a vehicle to bring together diverse peoples, please the hearts and merriment of the masses, and bring glory and honor to your name; in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
About a year ago our Vestry was in the process of re-evaluating our 3 year “Strategic Vision.” Our consultant, Lois Maassen, introduced us to a process called “Strategic Doing” as a way to frame how we think about the work we do in our common life and mission. Ms. Maassen describes this process as a way to form collaborations quickly, especially in an environment without authority; to enable momentum, based on what volunteers are willing and energized to do; to provide tools for teams to be agile, learn by doing, make changes as they go. Maybe most importantly, this process cracks open the tiered models of leadership that depend upon the mighty few to do the work of the many.
For more on Strategic Doing, check out this handout or the video below:
When it comes to church work this method is particularly empowering for laity. Newcomers and long-timers alike can engage in this process and have their voices heard! Maassen describes this dynamic like this:
The power of decisions and doing the ministry is distributed according to interest, time, & talents. There are only a few ground rules to the process: Speak your truth, listen with respect (and listen to your listening), ask questions to seek clarity, don’t make assignments to anyone but yourself, and have fun!
Our Rector, The Reverend Jennifer Adams, embraced the process because of the new life it gave our ministry and mission. As a former member of the Taskforce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, she recognized the need for the church to continue to explore structure and governance issues.
Having discovered Strategic Doing, the team at Grace that generally addresses our Church Family and Fellowship projects met to engage this process when thinking about our Easter Vigil and celebration to follow.
A few of the members brought up that there are quite a few home-brewers in our community (which included some of the folks making the suggestion) and began to dream about an offering they could make for the communal celebration that follows our Easter Vigil.
The idea got energy around it, which was the feedback needed to get this idea to the next level (determining the 2-3 things we could accomplish by our next meeting in 30 days).
It was set!
- The action needed was identified.
- The person taking charge was determined.
- The goal date was agreed upon…
Go, and Do!!!!!
After clearing the idea with the Rector, the next step was to invite one of the homebrewers to join the team on this adventure, then to issue an invitation to anyone who might be interested in helping with the process of brewing, bottling, and intentionally offering this gift and oblation to the resurrection community that gathers as Grace Episcopal Church, Holland after the Great Vigil of Easter.
Alex & Derek Foster are the members of Grace who graciously volunteered to host this process and bring to the table their many years of experience of brewing craft beer. Alex served on our Vestry for the last three years and was one of the liaisons to the Church Family and Fellowship Commission, and Derek co-led a group of teenagers on a 15 day Pilgrimage to the U.K. next summer. Clearly they are both invested in the longevity of this faith community.
In Derek’s words,
My life is busy, busy like so many others and I don’t give as much to the Church and the community as I’d like. When the two of you asked us to make this beer I thought this was a good opportunity to do something that is unique that I can bring to the table…”
Because of time constraints and for general acceptability of the beer, I decided to make an American Style Wheat. This a beer that is light to medium bodied with a golden color that has a malt and hop balance that is a easy drinking, refreshing choice for spring and summer. It is 6.0% ABV with 35 IBUs. so it’s no slouch.
In layperson terms…it’ll meet the palate of craft beer connoisseur and all-day enthusiasts alike!
I was particularly struck by what Derek said in his reflecting on this experience,
I’ve been making beer for what seems like a long time now. Although I still enjoy the process, it’s been quite some time since a batch felt that special. The prayer you offered while we were brewing really set a the tone for me. My prayers in the past had more to do with necessity, such as the yeast failed to take off, rather than being humble, hopeful and thankful for the experience.”
And isn’t that the point of prayer?
Of Christian community?
To bring our offerings of thanksgiving and praise with us as we approach the altar for Eucharist?
To be transformed by the prayers of the people, strengthened and renewed and consoled and empowered?
Prayer, to me, is meant to shape our lives to match our hearts.
This was proof, if ever there was, that prayer can transform everyday seemingly secular activities into offerings of holiness and community!
Brewing has also been the ultimate ice breaker. You will find that people share a curiosity for the process of making beer, especially at home and in small breweries. It has a way of bringing people together for a moment to discuss a process…”
A process that by all other accounts goes on behind the scenes, un-noticed till the moment of consumption. Much like our liturgies, our studies, our meals, etc.
Derek pointed out,
Brewing and the Christian church have also shared the same space for ages. Beer has been a common thread that has tied the church to the community and helped allow the church to do the work of God. Beer was given away and sold to the public. Early German monks used the Doppelbock as sustenance as they fasted for lent. Beer has served as a sort of vehicle that affects your spirit and inspires you to ask questions about what life could be like if…”
In our time brewing together, conversations drifted to the common conversation topic of “Why don’t we do this full-time, start our own brewery…”
Being a clergy couple and filled with dreams of ways for the kingdom of God to break through in new and exciting ways…this is the stuff that fuels our passion for ministry!
Derek recalls, “I’ve had many conversations over the years about how to approach the business of a craft brewery but unfortunately, none like this. Everyone has something they can do and it is an opportunity to give back…an opportunity to bring something special to our group of parishioners.”
We decided to make enough to bottle some into 22 oz. bottles (to encourage sharing a bottle with a friend) and some for a small pony-keg to have on draft, which amounted to 10 finished gallons of hand-crafted homebrew from the hands and love and prayers of 4 adults and 6 kids at Grace. (Side note: The kids didn’t brew, they just helped decorate the paper sacks, eat the food, and play street hockey while the adults operated the equipment.)
And that, my friends, is how these things came to pass for one Easter Vigil Celebration, engaging the gifts and offerings of a few creative souls to the benefit of the collected masses joined together to celebrate the ultimate victory over all fear, death, and disconnection from the source of all creation!
We hope you are encouraged to try your own unique adventures in your community.
Strategic doing asks participants to collaborate on an achievable action in a 30 day time frame.
What might this process lead to in your congregation?