The Starfish And The Spider, Part 5: The Catalyst’s Tools

Here is part five of my notes and summary. My comments again are in red.

Genuine interest in othersisn’t this simply what Christian love is meant to be about? Not knowing people because they can be useful, but for who they are.

Loose connections – catalysts know a lot of people, (but few of them deeply). This gives them more people to connect together. Does this mean they have to be extraverts?

Mapping – catalysts are constantly thinking who in their networks can help, but they are also making new connections and circles. Too few of such people in the church. Is this why a [named friend of mine] can’t survive in the ministry?

Desire to help – this is essential to the work of a catalyst, otherwise the circles are me-centred and will collapse. What do we want to help people with in the church, and what do people want help with? Do our answers reflect missional priorities?

Passion – this, rather than command and control, is the drumbeat. In the church, we have less command and control being a voluntary society, but whether we are characterised by passion is a question that would draw highly varying answers.

Meet people where they are – not a directive advice-giver, but an intent listener. Giving advice creates hierarchy. Non-directive counselling is controversial in the church,  because it seems to go against notions of ‘absolute truth’. There is a need to loose people from a dependency culture upon pastors and in that the non-directive approach is helpful, but it can become about people following whatever they conceive their own truth to be. The guard against this in starfish circles is presumably the ideology.

Emotional Intelligence – however intelligent a catalyst is, leading with emotions helps create bonds of kinship. This seems to be about the importance of creating relationships rather than just using people in service of the cause.

Trust – a catalyst trusts the network and consequent outcomes without controlling it. Quite a challenge to depend on trust, not control.

Inspiration – inspiring others to a goal that isn’t about personal gain for them or the catalyst: “This isn’t about me.” Plenty of Christian parallels here, seeking glory for God.

Tolerance for ambiguity – ability to cope with not knowing, and with chaos. Not always what we want to hear, but this could be viewed as living by faith!

Hands-off Approach – getting out of the way. The circles may be frustrated with lack of leadership, but asking ‘What are we supposed to be doing?’ stimulates action. Again, something very humble here. Not easy to do, counter-intuitive. But ultimately it’s what Jesus did with the apostles (notwithstanding the gift of the Spirit). One query would be the issue of entropy.

Receding – having inspired action, catalysts get out of the way and let the people they’ve connected get on with it. Again, humility, it’s not about me, enabling and empowering – deeply Christian and very far from how we often practise church.


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