Presencing: The Role of the Suburban Church


In an article titled The Church – A ‘Presencing’ Body For Advancing Sustainably?, Gail Plowman states “that actions don’t create relationships, but relationships often create actions.”  In my post “The Power of We”, I shared my belief that the core of any effective effort to change a community or an individual is grounded in relationships.  In this article, Gail makes a strong argument for what she terms “Presencing.”  Gail writes:

Presencing is a combination of being truly present in the moment – knowing the direction in which you want to go, ‘observing, observing, observing’ – and reflecting with an open mind, an open heart and an open will, sensing the emerging possibilities so that the next step is apparent, can be trialled and feedback gathered in the innovation process. On the way judgement, cynicism and fear will, hopefully, be bypassed.

I met with a Senior Pastor from a large suburban congregation this week who asked me, “What is the role of the suburban church?”  At the time of the meeting I had not read Gail’s article but as I was reading it I realized the answer to that question is “presencing.”  The church is not called to be successful, we are not called to create programs, committees, or to build structures to house all the above.  We are called to be present with a hurting world.  It is our need for quick fixes and measurable outcomes that is undermining the long-term power of  tranformative power of being present with people, looking for where God is already at work, and participating with people in the unfolding of new possibilities.

As a very action oriented person who likes to see outcomes, this article was a reminder that it is not about me, my program, or my ministry.  The power to transform the old into something new  lies in allowing God to move through us and become the presence of Christ in the world.


Filed under Community Development, Unity Works Reading, Urban Ministry

3 responses to “Presencing: The Role of the Suburban Church

  1. Wendy – thanks for picking up on the work we started at Yarrambat and applying it to your own work in “re-forming” congregational life. These are exciting times for creating the possibilities of real “presence.”

    • wmccaig

      My pleasure! It was a great article. I hope people clicked through to see the full post. Like you, I am excited to see what God is moving us toward as we seek to be faithful in the call to simple be present.

  2. Wendy,
    I am delighted that you have picked up on the work at Yarrambat, Australia and have made a connection with Adrian and the “presencing” that is taking place across the world.

    From my perspective, the “U Path” that we followed in Yarrambat is descriptive of the spiritual path that requires authentic, creative, presence from which shalom (and shalomy things) emerge.

    Dave Cooper

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