Updated: Mar 13
Here are a few examples of what laity and clergy are saying:
"It's so helpful! I can't say enough about it!"
"Constantly, I apply what I learned and it has improved all of my relationships."
These are only a couple of the responses I have heard among laity and clergy who have participated in "Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset."
This material did not take traction like originally envisioned because COVID-19 literally caused a world wide retreat one month after facilitators of our conference completed training.
How do I know so much about Arbinger and this material?
I'm one of the facilitators who was trained to share this material with churches in our conference.
"The Arbinger Institute is a worldwide training, consulting, and coaching organization whose programs and methodologies are based on forty-five plus years of research in the psychology of human behavior and motivation and more than thirty-five years of experience working with organizations worldwide. Headquartered in the United States, Arbinger has operations around the world, including throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, The Middle East, Oceania, and Asia."
Books that have been published by Arbinger include; "The Anatomy of Peace," "The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves," and "Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box."
Facilitators share personal stories, slides, and videos lifting up ways developing and implementing an outward mindset has assisted corporations, schools, law enforcement agencies, and organizations throughout the world grow forward significant ways to enhance discovery, collaboration, connection, change.
If participants who have read or invested time taking any of the courses offered by Arbinger Institute decide to get together and relate the material to insights gained from theological exploration, there are a lot of ways the material ties into the basic teachings of our faith.
For instance, this material truly has helped me to embody more of a Christ-like mindset as defined by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3-5, "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." ("New Living Translation of The Bible.").
Insights developed by Arbinger provide helpful tools churches can use in a variety of ways such as forming a covenant for communication; naming, claiming, and following your unique vision; developing core values; and working together to implement ministry strategies in ways that help us do our part to embody the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20.
To be honest about it, the language used by Arbinger is not the typical language we are accustomed to using in churches.
For instance, The word "outward" has many different connotations. As followers of Jesus, it brings to mind "the inward" and "the outward journey." For instance, we "go inward for prayerful self-examination" and we go "outward" to love our neighbors as ourselves. "Outward" can also imply moving away from an attractional model of ministry and moving toward a missional model of ministry.
The material developed by Arbinger invited me to define "inward" and "outward" in relationship connecting ways. "Going inward" looks like treating someone else like an object. This occurs when I choose to relate with the other from the perspective(s) of being better than; therefore, I deserve to be treated like; or lesser than; therefore, I need to be seen as..." I have learned that I can always tell if I have chosen to go "inward" when I find ways to justify why I did not choose to be my best self.
The presentations by Arbinger facilitators helped me to embody new ways to be "outward" by practicing empathy.
I will go so far as to say that ruminating and practicing the curriculum presented assists me on the pilgrimage of embodying Romans 12:2, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the ways you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
("New Living Translation of The Bible.").
To illustrate, one of the tools offered by Arbinger is called "The Influence Pyramid." When laity and/or staff sit down to apply this tool to ways to nurture follow up for ministry it is remarkable how congregations and staff become less stuck in their ways and more open to taking creative steps to be part of what the Holy Spirit is doing here and now.
Likewise, the presentations developed by Arbinger revealed new ways to work with congregations to collaboratively move away from habits that cause dysfunction such as trianglelization which leads to persons turning their backs on one another, collusion.
Participants learn new ways to invite persons who have formed silos and factions to turn toward each other and grow through conflict that leads to collaboration.
Digesting the insights offered has increased my self-awareness about ways to identify when to be appropriately assertive and share my perceptions of "truth in love." For instance, I used to assume that the most Christ-like way to embody caring occurred when I chose "soft" behaviors such as non-confrontation. Through reflection and practice embodying the principles, I continue to work on my mindset realizing there are times when my best self looks like choosing "hard" behaviors such as sitting down to have a face to face conversation with the person with whom I am in conflict. To sum it up, this material has helped me to do a better job practicing the teachings of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 18:15-20.
To wrap it up...
I envision many conversations similar to the following scenario will occur when more pastors begin taking teams to participate in "Living with an Outward Mindset:"
Bill: "Since a team from our church completed 'Living with An Outward Mindset,' our congregation continues to grow forward ways to combine our unique gift sets, perspectives, and experiences. We enjoy collaborating and more persons take responsibility for implementing ministry strategies that help us reach persons in our parish like never before!"
Bill: "When I told this to Larry, a friend of mine, who is a leader of another United Methodist Church in our conference, he responded,"
Larry: "Come on! Help me understand. I don't see how any material using corporate like language not based in theology can be that helpful! It sounds like just another program from Conference to me!"
Bill: "I used to think the same way too! When my pastor asked me to be part of the team and attend a 'Living with An Outward Mindset' gathering, I was very hesitant to go. I decided to give it a try. After the pastor and our team came back, we decided to try it out in our daily living for a while, then meet one month later to talk. We met and were surprised how much it helped improve our mindsets and relationships at home and at work. So we decided to meet again one month later. We started praying about ways we could apply what we learned to help us and our congregation become more faithful followers of Jesus. We continue to meet from time to time. Most of us have been quite surprised how much what we learned has helped our church become more healthy and more Christlike!"
(My friend still looked like he had trouble believing what I said.)
Larry: "O.K. Give me an example."
Bill: "What I learned opened the door to some very real self reflection. It's been hard work! For instance, I had to admit when I face big challenges, I tend to hone in on someone else's mindset rather than my own!"
Larry: (Leans forward showing more interest),
Bill: "Our church has a tendency to be like that too! This material gave us helpful tools to navigate disagreement and conflict. When I face conflict, now I'm more likely to step away from the shame blame game and find ways to get to underlying issues. I'm more likely to work with others to bring about needed change at home, at work, and at church. I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but as all of us have become more aware of what happens when we treat people as objects rather than persons or children of God, we have become more outward, more empathic."
Larry: "Tell me more..."
Bill: "Prior to taking 'Living with an Outward Mindset,' when our church faced conflict, we used to shut down. Now we are more likely to learn through challenges and look for ways to go deeper. Rather than shut down or fight like we used to do, now we're more likely to collaborate across gift sets, interests, and experiences. We're more likely to do what matters most! We're more likely to embody more faithful ministry strategies that help us fulfill our vision and be part of the Great Commission to reach more people for Jesus!"
Larry: "I'm still not so sure, but I'll pray about it!"
Bill: "When I told my friend all this, he looked like a deer caught in headlights. I could tell he thought I was drinking some of that conference coolaid. Now that we have learned how to gather together again post the reality of COVID-19, I hope that he'll consider taking a team with him to one of the many options being offered in The Western N.C. Conference now!"
So, what's being offered?
Facilitators of Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset have discovered that with the complexity of schedules clergy and laity navigate today it can be quite challenging to find time to gather two full days.
Options have been developed that still require an important commitment of time, but one that is more manageable.
*Offered in person or via zoom.
. "Living with An Outward Mindset" which is based on "The Anatomy of Peace" involves either two three hour sessions or one six hour session plus a meal
. "Outward Inclusion" is one three hour session.
"Outward inclusion" presents some of the best material I have seen because participants learn and practice ways to engage in meaningful conversations with persons across suspicious societal categorizations.
What is the cost per participant?
Participation is supported by our apportionments which offsets most of the cost.
A few different ways to learn more:
Go to www.wnccumc.org
Click Leadership Development
Click Relationships and Conflict
Scroll to the bottom of the list. Click "Developing and Implementing An Outward Mindset"
Another great way to learn more:
Participate in the March 20, 6:30 pm 30 Minute Zoom Intro Session about Outward Mindset Workshops. (There is a link to this below.)
What if you discovered that the quality of our relationships depends not so much on what we Do, but rather how we Think, and how we See others? What if you could spend less time dealing with things that are going wrong and more time helping things go right?
Based on the Arbinger Institute’s proven methodology, two workshop offerings - Living with an Outward Mindset and Outward Inclusion - address the frustration that stems from an inability to create sustainable changes between groups and individuals by exploring in detail how relationships become conflicted and the implications of those strained relationships in our lives.
Living with an Outward Mindset and Outward Inclusion (with a focus on helping to uncover bias) equips individuals, teams, and churches with the tools to address the mindset and behaviors that get in the way.
Want to learn more? All are welcome to attend a 30-min Intro Session via Zoom on March 20 from 6:30-7:00 pm to hear more about the workshops and how to participate. The Outward Mindset Intro Session is hosted by the Metro District and will be led by Rev. René Wilt, one of seven trained Arbinger facilitators in our conference. The Zoom link will be sent to all who register.
All districts are invited to attend!
You may register here:
For more information, I invite you to contact me or Rev. Rene Wilt at email@example.com.
The Arbinger Institute was started in 1979 by Dr. C. Terry Warner. He is a professor emeritus at BYU. Now the consulting firm is led by James Ferrell, Duane Boyce, Paul Smith, and Terry Warner.
Can ministry be as fun as playing together in the snow? Tools developed by Arbinger Institute help us embody empathy and collaboration in new ways. Is it possible insights corporations are using to improve their practices can help the church become more Christlike? Will learning new ways to embody outward mindsets help followers of Jesus become more like him? Churches are discovering the answer: "Yes!"