We Can, If . . .

Home ownership can be challenging! I had a simple plumbing problem in my kitchen sink. The water became a dripping trickle instead of a steady flow. And I tried everything to solve the problem. I called Culligan (we have a water filter system underneath the sink), but they couldn’t help me. So, I went to Home Depot for answers. After twisting and turning knobs, taking apart the faucet handle to access the filter, taking apart the faucet head, three more trips to Home Depot, one trip to Ace Hardware, two trips to the Plumbing Supply Co., still no water. I was finally given a possible solution by the manufacturer of the faucet (on YouTube!). I disconnected the sprinkler head and discovered a filter less than ¼ of an inch wide. This filter had become clogged by residue in the flex-pipe. I cleaned and replaced the filter, and the water flowed like Niagara Falls!
And I thought, “How many churches and institutions have a filter like this somewhere in their system? How many places in our organizations get clogged up and then ministry cannot flow, decisions cannot be made, and vital mission grinds to a halt?” Then, I did a self-examination: How many times are others waiting on me to read and sign a document, respond to an email, make a phone call, or submit a proposal?
Sometimes, finding the place of obstruction that is preventing the flow can be daunting. In our Leadership Summit on Friday, we will learn and practice a simple technique called, “We can, if.”
In their book, A Beautiful Constraint, Morgan and Barden talk about trying to solve a problem for a company. As consultants, they attempt to have a hopeful and optimistic conversation. However, to every possible solution, they are met with the statement, “We can’t do this because . . .” They write, “Every time someone introduced a ‘we can’t because,’ the conversation reached a dead end. The flow had stopped. The solution? We didn’t let people start with ‘we can’t because.’ We forced them to start with “we can if.”
“We can, if” at the beginning of a sentence unclogs the filters of doubt and resistance that create inertia and slows our ability to act. When we begin a conversation with what is possible, problem-solving momentum is maintained. As Morgan and Barden write, “It forces everyone involved in the conversation to take responsibility for finding answers, rather than identifying barriers. It doesn’t allow someone to identify obstacles, without looking for a solution to that obstacle in the same sentence.”
Can we be a relevant and valued voice in the Chicagoland area? Can we become an anti-racist presbytery? Can we attract the pastors and leaders God is calling us to have? Can we strengthen our larger congregations and support of our challenged churches? Can we be a platform for innovative New Worshiping Communities? Can we partner in mission and ministry with other organizations and build communities of justice, peace, and righteousness?

We can, if . . .