Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

We’ve Not Done it that Way Before!

Written by: on October 7, 2019

We’ve not done it that way before!


I stopped counting how many times have I heard, “We’ve not done that way before!” However, I unsympathetically resembled that remark while traversing my way from where the Heathrow Express terminated at the Heathrow airport on my way to the United ticketing agent. I had never been through such a vast complexity. At first, my travel seemed simple: follow the signs, follow the crowd. I had the cockiness of teenagers in my past. I got this! Wait for it!


Sure, there were not as many steps to maneuvering the Heathrow experience as the Chicago O’Hare mess. I found more people in the UK more helpful than in the USA for giving this traveler directions, yet, I made one wrong decision at the airport without asking for help and I got to a point where I confessed to myself, “you idiot, you are lost!” Why maybe it is because I have never traveled this way before. The signs began to not look like the ones during the first third of my gate trekking adventure. I stopped and complained to myself again. I know if one of my cohort members were there I would have heard, “banana!” But I have never done it this way before.


That whole attitude reminded me what I heard from midwestern congregants I loved and served who lived out of routine and became fully discombobulated if route toward their mission changed. I have a bit more empathy for other lost congregational travelers than I did before my recent travels.


Van Doren wrote, “…intelligent action depends on knowledge.” [1] Gaining a better understanding of the lay of the land and where help can be obtained before one’s travels commence in an airport or a congregation is vital to get to the desired end. 


Intelligent actions leading to the desired end are not always clear though. We can perform our due diligence, inspect along the way, and analyze ad nauseam, but without knowing what the purpose we are hoping to achieve, all we are doing is playing the role of the know-it-all. Knowing the signs of the times, our context, and having the willfulness to make intelligent actions are close cousins needed for our times. We might even want to rename this confluence of terms: intelligent discernment. Kinnison has a ministry toward this end: Transformational Pastoral Leadership. “To assist congregations, Transforming Pastoral Leadership suggests two processes that might help congregations discern God’s missional promptings as they move forward into God’s future and experience conflict as opportunities for transformation.” [2]


Being in a new country with new processes; not always knowing if going with the flow will be a favorable decision is quite the journey. We are all traveling somewhere. I argue it is a matter of being teachable so that we can receive trusted knowledge to make choices, and intelligent actions to experience a desired completed journey. The steps and missteps I took to arrive at my desired end will likely be of some help for another traveler one day who may also say to themselves, “you idiot, you are lost!” Fellow traveler, survey the land, know the purpose, and understand better how to discern the meaning of terms before listing and making too many actionable items in your new contexts. 


           [1] Charles Van Doren, “How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading,” (Kindle 65).

           [2] Quentin P. Kinnison, 2016. “Transforming Pastoral Leadership: Reimagining Congregational Relationships for Changing Contexts.” Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. http://ezproxy.nts.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1287004&site=ehost-live. (Accessed: October 30, 2018).

About the Author

Steve Wingate

6 responses to “We’ve Not Done it that Way Before!”

  1. Shawn Cramer says:

    Steve, your opening line makes me curious – how do you hear “We’ve not done that way before” used in your church/context? How much pushback do you anticipate for going into the unknown with your project?

    For me, I admit my tendency to hear the phrase, “We did it like this last time,” and that that is inherently a bad thing. I have to surround myself with managers who can keep the ship afloat without creating change-fatigue for those I’m trying to minister to.

    • Steve Wingate says:

      I have to admit that much of the time it is a struggle within me when I hear that phrase. And, yet, there is a part of me that wants to find out how to help those concerned discover options and degrees of risk they are really open to. I find it really depends how much people trust each other, what a persons history is with change or conflict.

  2. Darcy Hansen says:

    Thank you for your reflection. Like you I had a number of moments in England where disorientation threatened to undo me. But a quick breath and a bit of grace often moved me forward.

    You mentioned work by Kennison: ““To assist congregations, Transforming Pastoral Leadership suggests two processes that might help congregations discern God’s missional promptings as they move forward into God’s future and experience conflict as opportunities for transformation.” I’m wondering what those two processes are and how you see those applied to not only tackling a text, but also tackling ministry challenges?

  3. John McLarty says:

    I had to do a deep dive into personal reflection when I saw your title. As career pastor, those words have killed many an idea!

    But the way you talked about traveling and how disorienting it can be to be a stranger in a strange land. It rarely occurs to me to consider how disorienting it would be to a person who has been in a familiar environment to all of a sudden have new ideas shoved in their face.

    It’s not that people can’t change or shouldn’t change, it’s just that skilled leaders understand the process of change is exactly like a journey to an unfamiliar place and they help their people along the way instead of just griping impatiently at how they just don’t get it.

    I’m still working on that patience piece!

    • Steve Wingate says:

      I think I feel the pain John. I came from the business world where as an owner and a franchise consultant I learned employees were like paid volunteers. They could go elsewhere and earn a living. Sure, I could hold the rules over their heads and sometimes it was needed but for the most part if they did not want to execute it took time to woo or replace them. In the congregational world, like you know, if they cannot see the benefits then change is not likely going to happen. Seeing is not necessarily believing but it may help opening up the idea of cooperation. Maybe I need to see what the other is seeing too.

  4. Chris Pollock says:

    Intelligent action depends on knowledge! Thankful for you and your insights and all of our ‘Banana!’ moments. Herein, the call to slow down a little and consider what’s on the table and perhaps, what may not be? And, our knowledge comes from more than books. Our understanding from knowledge beyond what is seen, our humility from the understanding that perhaps there’s more and much that’s not on the table! And, our better intelligent action perhaps arises in large part by the information transposed by those ‘Banana!’ moments.

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