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{cultivating} a culture of noticing

we're working hard to create a culture of noticing at willow chicago -- specifically on sundays as we interact with families. there's a special pattern to sundays, and we're finding that when you really LOOK at people and notice them and listen for the unspoken, magical-divine-like things happen. relationships grow and faith deepens, and really, that's the core of our business. kinda why we exist. 

here's what i've noticed, so far, about developing a culture of noticing-- 

i have to be in tune with and trust my gut. because growing my noticing muscles most often includes seeing the unseen, and hearing the unsaid. and, that's a challenge. BUT, so often my gut leads me in this. it's almost like my gut can see the unseen before my eyes can see. i'll feel off with someone, or wonder if there's more behind the story i'm hearing, or get a certain sense about a person, that, on the surface seems unfounded and illogical, and that's usually my cue -- there she is! the GUT.

when i'm in tune with my gut, and i sense a situation to be addressed, i pray, asking God for wisdom to see the unseen + courage to initiate conversation. my gut leads the way. and, i can trust the gut. last week, i felt really unsettled about a situation that god brought to my attention in a dream. it made NO sense. i felt ridiculous repeating it out loud to my boss. but, he's cool and God leads him in similar ways, so he advised i pray asking God to give me resolve about the situation. sure enough, a few nights later, after praying for resolve, i woke up to complete peace. divine-magical peace.  

i'm still unsure why the situation unfolded the way it did. of course, there were probably a million God-planned things going on behind the scenes, but trusting my gut {even when it seemed ridiculous} led to greater noticing, additional conversations, and in the end-peace. all good things. 

in cultivating a culture of noticing, it's important that i lead others to notice as well. the more notice-ers, the better. at the start of our sunday morning team huddle, i remind volunteers to really SEE families, to listen, to pastor, to notice. i remind them there's nothing too silly to notice. if they feel off with someone, or have a sense that a family needs a follow up conversation but they can't explain why -- that's ok. they can come to me with ANYTHING. we're notice-ers, that's what we do. 

i remind volunteers to ask parents how they are, how their commute was, how their kids are, and then look them in the eye, and really listen to their words. a few weeks ago, a volunteer asked a mom, during check-in, how her morning was going and she said not good. he told her he'd pray during the service that things would turn around for her. she came back, post-service, saying she had felt God's peace. simple. listen, notice, trust the gut, take risks in relationships.

cultivating a culture of noticing is key to growing faith. the act of noticing allows us to know, care for, and pastor folks in our communities. greater noticing = greater leadership. 

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