What does it mean to you? When have you seen it? What does it feel like? When is it useful? What do we hope comes from it?
A good chunk of my life, I’ve avoided collaboration, at least a form of it.
I’m thinking about all those group projects I’ve encountered in a variety of settings and classes. Usually these groups devolved into a controller (like myself) unwilling/unable to surrender their grade to the efforts of others. If it’s going to count, I want to be the one responsible for the end product. Naturally, I felt frustrated when under-performers underperformed. Not that I allowed room for any other outcome.
But what if there is a different kind of collaboration?
What if we could be equally invested and mutually responsible?
What would it look like and feel like and result in?
I’m been enjoying a bit of this via the church as part of an evolution in how we craft and deliver the Sunday messages.
Jeff (see his blog here) and I get together and begin discussing where we’re going as a church…where we’ve been…where we see God…what we think the people need to hear…what’s stirring in our hearts. These generally start as casual conversations. They sometimes lead us down paths we ultimately decide to abandon, or which lead us in directions we wouldn’t have considered without the exchange of ideas.
I acknowledge some of what drives us is the pragmatic/logistical concern of preaching multiple services in multiple venues with multiple voices. We have to have some discussion of what we are going to do and when.
At the same time, there is something deeper going on here. A discernment. A seeking and responding to God’s nudges.
Eventually, the conversation expands. More voices are brought into the process. Not so much to generate something brand-new of drastically divergent from what we bring to the table, but to add flesh to the bones we have discovered. There is an incarnation of the message; a genesis of the bigger thing God is doing through the Word.
This is where I’m finding the most joy in collaboration.
Art. Music. Image. Song. Story. Experience. Prayer. Dreams.
A small seed is planted and through the creativity unleashed, it begins to grow and flourish. Sometimes it dies before it is fully realized, but often the process refines and strengthens what Jeff and I have started with. It’s pretty cool. Best of all, I don’t have to control (or try to control) anything. Instead, I let the Spirit lead and wait to see what the results will be.
So, what does collaboration look like in your world? If you’ve only experienced the group project-type, give the creative-type a chance. It’s worth the effort.
Life is better together,