Turn To Wonder


Movement building not maintenance of buildings!I had the privilege of participating in a VocationCARE training in Asheville last week, hosted by the Fund for Theological Education and featuring The World Cafe co-founders Juanita Brown and David Isaacs.

The conference began with an agreement by all in the group to abide by 14 “Covenants of Presence,” and these covenants were revisited each morning as we began our time together again. All 14 of these statements are useful for facilitating any kind of group discussion, and they are helpfully fleshed out further in FTE’s own document (unfortunately it’s not available online, or else I’d link to it):

  1. Be 100 percent present, extending and presuming welcome.
  2. Listen generously.
  3. Author your story.
  4. We come as equals.
  5. It is never “share or die.”
  6. No fixing.
  7. Suspend judgement.
  8. Turn to wonder.
  9. Hold these stories with care.
  10. Be mindful and respectful of time.
  11. Practice confidentiality care.
  12. Welcome discomfort and dislocation.
  13. Love the questions themselves.
  14. Believe that it is possible for us to emerge from our time time together refreshed, surprised and less burdened than when we came.

I Wonder …
It’s the eighth item on that impressive list that really caught my attention and imagination this time (this was my second time through the VocationCARE training): Turn to wonder. As the FTE “Covenants of Presence” document states, “If you find yourself becoming judgmental or cynical, try turning to wonder: ‘I wonder why she shared that story or made those choices?’ ‘I wonder what my reaction teaches me?’ ‘I wonder what he’s feeling right now?'”

This notion of catching ourselves becoming judgmental or cynical and intentionally turning our minds to wonder is really powerful. I learned two related things from talking with David Isaacs, and that was this:

  • “Individual leaders have a hard time admitting they don’t know, but leadership teams can.”
  • “We need to shift from asking ‘How to’ (fix things) to ‘What if …'”

What If …
We closed our time together with a world cafe hosted by David Isaacs, and we were invited to craft our own “What if …” questions. Opening ourselves to the wonder of asking “What if …” was really powerful. Here are some of the “What if” questions that emerged from our group:

  • What if I had the courage not to remain invisible?
  • What if we really are enough?
  • What if we listened as if we were fearfully and wonderfully made?
  • What if we really took a Sabbath?
  • What if we believe we are made in the image of God and lived into the role?
  • What if we stopped apologizing for being Christian?
  • What if we let consequences happen and grow in our own compost?
  • What if we are the change agents we’ve been waiting for?

I want to follow-up and go further into two of the “What if” questions that emerged for me during that time, but for now, I just want to say how grateful I am for the work of FTE in putting together these VocationCARE practices and for sharing them with so many leaders across the Church. And I want to add a huge Thank You to Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, and Ashley Cooper for sharing the gifts of their presence and hosting with all of us!

David LaMotte graced us with a concert Thursday night in the Century Room upstairs at Pack’s Tavern, and one song in particular is lingering with me, “We Are Each Other’s Angels” (by Chuck Brodsky). Wonderful …


What are the “What if …” questions you are asking these days? What are some of the “What if …” questions we should all be asking right now?



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Posted on 03-21-2012


  1. Jonathan Blundell says:

    March 21st, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Great thoughts!
    I often find myself trying to help folks imagine the possibilities whenever I give a “talk.”
    I like to leave people with, “Imagine if…”
    “Imagine if we did this in your home…”
    “Imagine if we did this in your neighborhood…”
    “Imagine how your co-workers would respond…”

  2. Steve K. says:

    March 21st, 2012 at 11:19 am

    thanks, Jonathan! Your comment reminded me of this board game: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00000JKWY/?tag=missionalcom-20 <-- Have you ever played it?tag=missionalcom-20 I think we still have it. I might need to crack it out again here with my kids! 🙂

  3. Catherine Davis says:

    March 21st, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Steve! Great thoughts….I sure miss hanging out with the Emerging Church cohort.

    Are you familiar with the “Cleansing Committee” of the Quakers? This list is similar to one they use in the committee. I think Parker Palmer writes of this too.

    hope all are well,

  4. Bob Carlton says:

    March 21st, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    love the sara hickman cover of that song


  5. What If Progressive Evangelicals Were Better Networked? | knightopia.com | the online home of Steve Knight says:

    March 22nd, 2012 at 8:08 am

    […] of the “What if …” questions that emerged for me during my time at the VocationCARE training in Asheville last week was this: […]

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