“What is going on at Westwood?”
That sure has been the question for some over the past couple years hasn’t it? As we’ve faced some challenges, we as leadership have tried to be cautious, understandably, as to not cause hurt or allow things to descend into some awkward point-counter-point discussion that wouldn’t bring life to anyone. So, how would we answer the question? Simple. God is doing a beautiful work here. We’ll share.
Honesty. As a leadership we needed to stop avoiding and running from our challenges and face them—honestly. To this point leadership internally struggled being honest and open about struggles within whether it be pride, control, talking behind other’s backs, politicking, passivity, and other expressions that erode health. As you know, honesty can be a scary thing—you can either humble yourself or you can fight, it’s true of all of us. Several years ago we as leaders agreed to commit ourselves to being open, honest, teachable, and not accept familiar and easy patterns of behavior. Plain and simple, some fought, most humbled. As a result of our commitment, our leadership is healthier and closer than ever. Church family, it’s been hard and messy, but God is doing a beautiful work in our leadership.
Avoidance.We understand the average Minnesotan would rather just avoid conflict altogether—again, it can be true of all of us. Historically, as our leadership struggled in the ways mentioned earlier, so did our church body. Here’s a reality we can’t avoid: Leadership leaks, meaning, as the leaders go so does much of our church family. We found ourselves in patterns of hinting, unspoken expectations, pacifying, and pain old avoiding and many of our people were no different than us. We didn’t want to have challenging and uncomfortable conversations so we mostly said nothing; leaving things unaddressed and piling up. Gossip flourished and conspiracies abounded. Not only did we need to start being honest with ourselves as leaders, but we now needed to start being honest with our church family. In the same ways we were growing our church body needed to grow too. It was no longer acceptable to have conversations about people rather than with people. Wow, we poked the bear. In the same way it brought healing to our leadership, it will bring healing to our body. God is doing a beautiful work albeit a painful one.
People pleasing.As the old saying goes, “If you try to please everybody you’ll end up pleasing nobody.” Well, it’s true. We didn’t mean for it, but one of our highest values became trying to “keep” people over actually ministering to people. Instead of leading people we tried to please people. The unfortunate byproduct became consumerism, convenience, and an unintended selfishness—we all are susceptible to these things. We knew we needed to change, and change needed to begin with our Overseers and staff. This is why you’re hearing about transformational relationships and significant empowerment. That’s the heart of the Gospel, we have a Savior who emptied Himself for the good of others and we are called to the same. People pleasing came at the expense of truly living out the Gospel. We see it and we want to change.
Some may choose to see all this as conspiracy but the truth is it’s God continuing his sanctifying work in us as His church. Here’s an unavoidable truth, God does His best work when we are in the middle of difficulty—that’s God actually showing His kindness. He helps us to honestly see ourselves as He begins a beautiful work of seeking, rescuing, and restoring. As we look more and more like His Son, Jesus, we will see God do things in our church and in our community that will bring glory to God and be for the good of His people. That is what’s happening. Some will chose to get going…that’s hard but ok. For the rest of us, let’s humble ourselves to the work God is doing in us, let’s be honest with ourselves, let’s start talking to people and not about them, and let’s start emptying ourselves out for the good of others to God’s glory. That’s a church that God will use.
Overseers & staff