What If?

A Letter from the Executive Director

I often think about the “What If?” session at last year’s National Conference that was meant to highlight how member programs were courageously experimenting with new approaches and models. The goal was to catalyze head and heart, help attendees think out loud, and empower them to consider ideas and conversations that are hard but need attention. Although we were not sure where the conversation would lead, I was convinced it would be powerful if we created space for depth and honesty about discerning how to step into the unknown.

Our presenters shared about asking “What if?” – and acting on ideas. They offered insights into what it took to: end a program but add a new discernment effort to enhance another one; accept a volunteer who was extremely different than others and create a unique partnership with the police department to support her; experiment with a house that combined volunteers from Catholic and Protestant programs; and rethink recruitment based on the nature of Gen Z.

What was offered was interesting and stimulating, but the spirit with which these journeys was shared was most impactful for me. While I remember what was said, I was more moved by how these honest reflections made me feel.  The experience confirmed what I had heard recently: “People won’t remember what you said or what you did.  But they will remember how you made them feel.”

Faith, community, and leadership must be in touch with feeling.  We believe in a God who moves deeply within us, inviting us to trust how the Spirit can lead. I believe God uses what grabs us and stays with us to help us know how to follow – and lead. I want the creative journeys of people in this network to make me feel – and to help us act to envision and create.

I often encourage CVN staff to ask “What if?” and question sacred cows. We will offer opportunities this year for you to do that as well. In fact, the Member Survey that is part of the membership renewal has some big questions designed to help you consider new ideas. Our new Diversity and Racial Justice Statement may catalyze reflection. And, CVN’s annual Program Formation Workshop offers programs the chance to revisit traditional ways to manage a program – as well as space to think anew. This year’s workshop will feature guest speakers on two areas that need our creative thinking: fundraising and online marketing/recruitment. CVN webinars are also spaces in which to pursue what grabs you. As we experiment with new methods and venues for volunteer recruitment, we will welcome you to accompany us. In addition, there will also be other opportunities that allow us to ask “What if?” in ways that shape strategy and enhance the impact of our 2019 National Conference.

What in your ideas, conversations, dreaming, or heart grabs you? What makes you feel – and must be followed?  I want that to inform CVN’s leadership. I want us to act together.

With you in service,
Yonce Shelton
Executive Director

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