I’ve been rummaging about these last few days attempting to pull together a broken dissertation. What began as a passion for discovering how ritual might be used to change organizations has… well, changed several times over the course of the last few years. Then again, I’ve had a bit of a metamorphosis myself these last few years – and I’m not referring to the gray hair.
Where my writing has finally settled is in looking at organizational identity, as well as organizational identification (yes, those are two separate things, and I’ve got the notes to prove it) and how organizational culture helps to shape and maintain that identity through ritual, amongst other things.
“Who do we say we are?” is a core question organizations ask of them selves.
“Who do they say we are?” is also important.
But deeper down are the other questions, the ones we dare not ask because we’re afraid of the answers. How do we know who we are? What informs that knowledge of the self?
I think about our congregations who on March 13th, 2020 could have told you exactly who they were… only to find on March 15th that their entire sense of identity had changed… and I think about building on rock and building on sand.
I wonder about congregations who moved easily into this new territory, even though it meant learning new technology, because their identity was focused not on a building, but on relationships with God and one another.
I’m inquisitive about those congregations who are halfway in the middle – with a core group of folks who made the move to online, as well as those who found their online attendance double that of what they’d see on a typical “in the building” Sunday.
I’m curious about congregations who have found themselves engaged in conversations regarding race, perhaps for the first time, and am wondering how that might change their identity.
My hope and prayer is that even as we begin to prepare for moving back into our buildings we take some time to discover what this wilderness time has said about our identity and what that might mean for us moving forward?
Finally, I always appreciate conversation partners around this sort of stuff. I promise not to use you as a sermon illustration (although, you might end up somewhere in this dissertation!).