Cynefin at Work in One Congregation


This post was written by Rev. Anthony Elenbaas, Pastor of Faith Formation at Immanuel CRC, Hamilton, Ontario. 

In the chaotic environment created by the pandemic, our church moved quickly to shut down the building, put a hold on spending, and channel everything through a newly created COVID response team. 

Over that first week we also took action to move to recorded online services, connect with those without access to technology, mobilize our elder district care teams, and start a daily devotional blog called “Wilderness Wanderings.” These were all actions taken to stabilize the chaos. In fact, the “Wilderness Wanderings” blog/podcast has likely moved some of our discipleship and pastoral care challenges from the Complex (unpredictable) to the Complicated section (predictable &, repeatable) of the Cynefin framework. We foresee this blog becoming a permanent ministry of Immanuel going forward. (Check it out here:

In addition, we're also navigating from the Complexity to Complicated in our fall faith formation programming. We are surveying parents and youth, becoming aware of our constraints (ex. an uncertain COVID forecast could shut things down again), and empowering healthy experiments that align with our pre-existing sense of God’s direction for our ministries.

We had already sensed a need for: movement to episodic wins rather than serial ministry; movement to decentralized ministry (a ministry emphasis on groups/families in their context) and away from programming centered on our building; and movement away from information heavy programming to more relational ministry. Acknowledging the pre-existing sense of direction allows our leadership to give wide berth for experiments that fit. 

For more info on some of the faith formation experiments we're working with this season, see the faith formation page on our website:

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