Collective Story Harvest: Weaving a Faith that Matters

The invitation read:

WEAVING A FAITH THAT MATTERS – Collective Story Harvesting with Chris Corrigan. March 31st 9am to 1pm in the Murrayville Sanctuary. What can we learn from the last three years of our work, that we can carry forward in our evolving church? Join with the Board, Transition Executive, and LFI Dream Team as we surface some of the insights, innovations and “a-has” that exist beneath the surface of our stories of becoming the United Churches of Langleys. This gathering is open to all.

The three years of work mentioned was the process of bringing together four separate congregations into one regional church, now known as The United Churches of Langley. I was fortuate to be invited into their Collective Story Harvest as a graphic recorder.

What exactly is a Collective Story Harvest? I describe it as a storytelling process that builds our capacity for targeting listening and group learning, tracking many arcs (themes) of various stories simultaneously. It is an ideal way to surface many insights, innovations, and ah-has that exist beneath the surface of our stories and to take our learning to a deeper level – both for those telling and listening. Here’s more from the Art of Hosting community:

Storytelling is one of the most powerful knowledge management tools of the Art of Hosting community. Contained in our stories is both the experience and learning that will grow our capacities to use the Art of Hosting practice in ever more complex spaces. As the depth and scale of our work increases, our practice stories offer us guideposts for innovation, process development and how to create robust containers for conversations that really matter.

The flow of the gathering began in circle with “A Prayer for Beginners”. It was awesome to see a church space that you could reconfigure the seating from rows into a circle! Next Chris provided some context to the day’s gathering, to learn from the stories from the community. Invitations for people to volunteer to listen for the different story arcs (the narrative, leadership, theology, moments of letting go and holding on, where spirit showed up, metaphors and songs, and others). Then four stortellers shared their story, one at a time, to the whole. The listeners shared back what they heard from the lens of their story arc; the gifts offered back to the storytellers. From there, the group moved into a World Cafe to explore more deeply what was shared and what the community was collectively learning, weaving the whole.

Gratitude to all for welcoming me into this amazing, brave work of weaving a faith that matters using participatory leadership approaches,  finding a new way forward in these interesting times. Check out the video harvest of the day created by my talented friend Zack Embree. And here is my graphic recording harvest (click to view):

Sidenote: This is a beautiful process that can also work outside of Art of Hosting trainings. One of these days I will share the story of using it inside an organization with a group of leaders.