Spirit Alive: Culitivating Communities of Practice

Spirit Alive is a weekly blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
January 26, 2016

Food for the Soul

Cultivating Communities of Practice:

We Need to Walk Together

It has been a blessing to have you join me for this four-month Spirit Alive experiment. I have heard from a number of you during this time and have deeply appreciated the many comments I have received. I hope that the stories from the field, the resources shared, and the commentaries written have in some way been a blessing to you as well.
What I'd like to do next is move to sending out Spirit Alive  every other week beginning in February in hopes of keeping our connection "alive" around matters related to mission and ministry in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference without overdoing it. I hope you will find this level of connection worthwhile to your ministry and that you will want to remain a part of it.

As a way of closing this version of this four-month experiment, I'd like to share another book resource entitled CultivatingCommunities of Practice by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Synder. It is a wonderful resource that examines the growing movement of "communities of practice" in organizations of all kinds.
As the book cover says: "Today's marketplace is fueled by knowledge. Yet organizing systematically to leverage knowledge remains a challenge. Leading companies have discovered that technology is not enough, and that cultivating communities of practice is the keystone of an effective knowledge strategy." The authors go on to say: "Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis."

When I read this I thought to myself: "Humm, this sure sounds like what Jesus did with his disciples and what Wesley developed with his Methodist classes."
"An authentic faith-- which is never comfortable or completely personal-- always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it."
   Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 2013

Cultivating Communities of Practice, which was published by the Harvard Business School Press, challenges those of us in the church to rediscover our own roots as well. Are you a part of a "community of practice" in your church?

In closing, consider what the authors of this book have to say: "Knowledge (one might add faith) involves the head, the heart, and the hand; inquiry, interactions, and craft. Like a community, it involves identity, relationships, and competence; meaningfulness, belonging, and action. A community of practice matches that complexity." These words are certainly "food for the soul" today!

Thanks again for being a part of this four-month journey....

Blessings on your journey,


Spirit Alive is a weekly blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.

Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org