This is my team. Well, most of them, plus some invited guests.
We spent a week together at a hotel in Bangkok getting to know each other and discussing the way we are going to work in the future.
The agenda I planned for the week had two simple objectives, for the team to understand who we are and then to work out what this means for the way we work.
Some basics about who we are
I’ve been working in the communications industry for more than 12 years now. A core element of communications is to know inside out the organisation/cause/thing you are trying to represent.
It works like this:
I’m a Christian. I believe in God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I believe Jesus died, and rose again, paying the penalty that was due for me and others, and as a result, I have a new life, freedom, joy, hope, that goes with me every day. That’s a huge claim and it has, as it should do, an impact on the way I live my life. It changes the way I treat others and this world. It motivates me to do things I wouldn’t automatically choose to do and stops me from making other choices that don’t fit with what I believe.
What I believe impacts what I do, how I act, the way I live.
As does being a fan of Liverpool Football Club. Yes, I’m a red, and as a consequence, I believe that the only right result in a game where Liverpool are playing is for Liverpool to win. I think that footballing order will be restored when Liverpool are, once again, sitting at the top of the table and European Championships (even if they are a shadow of the original European Cup) return to Merseyside.
As a result, I don’t cheer so much for other football teams, and it’s a rare weekend when you’ll find me rejoicing over a Manchester United, or Everton win.
What I believe impacts what I do, how I act and the way I live.
The same happens in communications work. If we know and understand the core of what we are trying to represent – in our case, theWycliffe Global Alliance – then it will automatically come out in what we do, how we act and the way we live.
So, we spent the week looking at the core elements of what it means to be part of the Alliance.
What it means for our work
Of course, all this theory means nothing if we can’t work out how it applies in practice. To continue the illustration of Jesus, he died for us, so what?
Look at a Bible. The amount of time given over to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is pretty tiny. There’s a whole lot of back story and then a whole chunk is given over to telling the story of people working out what it means to follow Jesus.
So, once we’d thought through the core principles, we gave over a chunk of time to discuss what this means for us.
I was surprised by some of the outcomes. People being challenged as much personally about their lives and relationships before even getting down to how they take photographs, write stories and relate to colleagues.
Celebrating and handing over
There were some other things that shaped our week.
We’ve never met together as a whole team before. That’s a problem when community and friendship is a core value of your organisation. You can do work via virtual tools, but it’s not so easy to make friends that way.
To address this, we spent time together. On our first day, we spent the afternoon visiting Jim Thompson’s house. We took public transport and walked and talked. It wasn’t so much about the visit, as interesting as that was, but about starting the week getting to know one another.
We celebrated too. We aren’t very good at celebrating, instead we are quick to move on to the next thing and keep the production line moving. But, for this week, we took a few minutes to stop and recognise that over the years that this team has been in place some really good work has been done.
On Monday our celebration was with cake. On Friday it was with communion (pictured) as we remembered that our celebration is rooted in the freedom we have because of what Jesus did by dying and paying the price that we should pay.
The other key element of the week was Susan’s farewell and my greeting.
Susan has been heading up the communications team since it was developed. She’s worked incredibly hard to get this group together and to help them understand the Alliance and the context in which we serve. It was important for her to have the time to say goodbye.
Then I had to say ‘hello’. To set out what I saw as important for us and tell people what it would be like working for me. I want this team to know and understand the Alliance, but we also need to know what it means for our work in the long-term. Beliefs and identity are important for us being able to do our jobs well. They aren’t separate from communications, instead, they are the core elements that inform all we do.