Study Sheets and Manifesto

When I was a student in both high school and college, I was pretty good at making “study sheets.” In a way, they were “cheat sheets” that helped me to distill what I saw as most crucial points to remember and to integrate. I had rather neat and tiny printing. I used different colors to distinguish ideas and important principles. I didn’t know it then, but a big part of me learned visually. I could remember it more when I could see it, particularly when I written some of it down.

The folks at Forum for Theological Exploration that I wrote about a few days ago, using their C.A.R.E. model (create hospitable space; ask self-awakening questions; reflect theologically; enact the next most faithful step) have created a tremendous study sheet, harvesting from their journey of learning in invoking participative leadership in faith communities. They call it a manifesto, pictured above, for conditions to create Another Way.

Enjoy these statements — my tail wags when I see such tight, yet imaginative distilling of principles that guide a whole mess of us in the mess of being better humans together. And then pick one and go do, or be, something useful with it.

In no particular order:

  • There is a future that mourns if you and I do not step into our purpose.
  • Vocational discernment is a dangerous dance that requires risk and courage. It may lead you where you did not plan to go and instigate profound change in self, others, and the environment.
  • Cultivate your own interior life and its communal sources. Leaders who lack awareness of the inner sources tend to reproduce what already exists.
  • Leadership is more about public listening than public speaking.
  • Leadership is a communal practice that builds the capacity of a team, community, or organization to envision and enact a future informed by the past and the diverse people around us.
  • Dialogue is an essential leadership practice and a core process for change.
  • Create settings on purpose, to engage wisdom of the room versus a “sage on the stage.”
  • Better choices emerge when the parts of a living organism are connected to the whole.
  • Strengthen your capacity to embrace mystery by thinking about, playing with, and adapting to uncertainty, because it, like death, is inevitable.
  • Embrace multiple ways of knowing: theory, practice, sensing, and intuiting are latent but powerful sources for creating change on purpose.
  • If you face uncertainty and destabilization, give yourself permission to prioritize experimentation and prototyping. Pay attention to history, power, justice, and equity or you will merely make change without making a difference.
  • Sing, dance, move, take a meditative walk, and engage other embodied practices. Integrating these ways of knowing moves us past the places where we get stuck.
  • The wisdom of our ancestors and descendants is always present and available to us, so remember to welcome them as we face the most difficult tasks of our lives.
  • Learn from multiplicity. Most of us are more than on thing simultaneously. Appreciate the complexity of other stories and perspectives.
  • Cultivate new possibilities that energy by resisting the tyranny of either / or. Hold the paradoxes that shape our communal life with patience and curiosity.

Is your tail wagging now?





  • Create hospitable space
  • Ask self-awakening questions
  • Reflect theologically together
  • Enact the next most faithful step

There is a lot that I like in this simple acronym, offered by some leaders from the Forum for Theological Exploration. “CARE” is a snippet of offering and distillation from three people, Stephen Lewis, Dori Grinenko Baker, and Matthew Wesley Williams came up with. Once upon a time, maybe around 2012, they were participants at an Art of Hosting training and retreat that I co-hosted with Chris Corrigan, Caitlin Frost, and Teresa Posakony. I remember Stephen, Dori, and Matthew — for their insightfulness and full hearts, that shows in this article that harvests some of their path of learning.

Give the article a read. There are themes that stand out to me. One, “willing to do something different.” This is evident in their book title, Another Way: Living and Leading Change on Purpose. There’s much to be said about the mere willingness to explore how change happens, whether in faith communities or the many other systems where people are expanding an invitation to seek “another way.”

Two, another theme, is from FTE itself. They used to be “Fund for Theological Education.” Now they are “Forum for Theological Exploration.” Brilliant, right. Still FTE, but, even that name points to a cultural shift. The folks at FTE were even so bold as to suspend their programming in an “organizational pause” so that they could give attention to clarifying, and choosing, who they really are.

I love the courage in this FTE story with Stephen, Dori, and Matthew. I love it that the methods and frameworks from Art of Hosting were a contribution of some sort. Their story of practice is inspiring, and shows a courage and clarity that many of us seek.