“Before you know anything, you know this. Before I AM anything there is simple I AMness, in and of itself, just so – and you are aware of that I AMness right now, yes? Before you are aware of anything you are aware of this. Before you feel anything, you feel this. It is constantly unknowable, this knowledge of All. It is forever undoable, this already accomplished isness of All. It is too complex to be known; too simple to believe; too present to be grasped; too here to be felt. All events are in its embrace, knowing that Suchness is where all beings converge in the Presence of each other’s hearts. It will fulfill your being, explode your mind, ground your soul, repair your Self, and realize your Spirit. The entire universe is arising within you, and deny it as you will, it always has. Just look: you are not in this room, this room is in you. (Feel it arising within your headless awareness?) Likewise, you are not in this Kosmos, this entire Kosmos is in you (where your head used to be, yes?). Supernovas are exploding in your heart; the sun is radiating from within your brain; the moon is your own shadow late on a summer eve’s night; the earth is your feet as you walk on air; the stars are the neurons of your night, whenever you look at all; the rain is the rushing of your own beating blood, drenching the world with your Life.
                And this is what and who you really are and always already have been.”
                                                                – Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow: page 179

The entire Universe’s potential lay withing the very fabric of the life. All of experience is the Universe Manifest, carrying out its life and its purpose of self-understanding. Humans do their best and their worst as this expression in groups, in communities. Throughout time communities have taken on many forms. The forms are dependent on the culture, the language, the climate, the history of the region. The styles of organization have also changed as humans have developed over time. The next stage in this development for faith communities is Integral Ministry Practice.

            Most of these communities have a minister or a lead as the center of the leadership structure. This led communities to often be centered around dogma and the lead minister’s personality more than allowing growth of individual recognition of the I AMness inherent in all. The activities, the service projects, the reading material, and the lessons (or sermons) and even the percentage of one’s income to give to the community were all centered around doing what was expected to achieve some type of end goal (salvation, community acceptance, the good life, and so on).

            Despite a cultural lack of training, there are some in each community that come to an understanding of ‘more’. This understanding, this broader perspective grows until approximately 10% of the population start to feel the same pull and come to the same types of realizations. When this happens there is a move to another understanding or level of awareness.

            We do this type of awareness climb individually throughout our lifetimes. We start off as incredibly dependent and not understanding any separation between ourselves and our caregivers. About the age of two we start to understand that there is a separation between ourselves and the rest of our physical world. In the work of Jean Gebser these stages are called worldviews. We move from an Archaic understanding to a Magic, to a Mythic, to Rational and then to Pluralistic before moving onto what we understand as a second-tier development of Integral.

            “During the course of structure and structure-stage development, as the self of climber steps from one stage to the next higher stage, two important things happen: the previous run is retained, and the previous View is dropped. That is, the self drops or loses the View from the lower structure-rung it was just on, and replaces it with the View from the next higher structure-rung it steps onto, while retaining the basic structure-rung itself – hence “transcend and include.” (Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow: page 195)

            Carolyn Myss refers to this stage development as moving up in an apartment building. In the metaphorical apartment building we all start off on the first floor. We understand how it is to live on the first floor, we know the view from the window, we know the sounds and the activity. We know how we interact with the rest of the first floor and all that outside the building as it relates to the first floor. After a while we may receive a promotion at work, and/or decide that we are ready for a change. We can move to the second floor. Our memories of the first floor are still with us, but we no longer interact with the world in the same way. The perspective is different; wider. The neighbors closest to us are different and the hope is that we bring the best of our experience on the first floor with us and include that into our new understanding on the second floor. The first floor needs to be sturdy, maintained and healed before it can bear the weight of the second and subsequent floors. This is what Ken Wilber refers to as “transcend and include”.

            The apartment metaphor may be expanded to illustrate a faith-based community. Within the community there are people on most floors. There are also people who have perspectives that are slightly different on each floor.  Given this, it is reasonable to say that each person would really need to live in each apartment on the floor, or at the very least be sure it was sturdy before making a total move to the higher floor. For example, one apartment may hold memories from the family of origin, one may hold talents in business or art, and another may be one’s moral aptitude and another one’s spiritual intelligence. All walls, all plumbing, all air filtration systems need to be operational before a floor move.

            In a community in which the minister plays the central role, the building (the community) is only as stable and only able to grow as much as the minister has or is willing to accomplish. All sense of personal responsibility, self-healing, self-awareness is abdicated to a system in which members are fed information and told what part of play instead of creating space for the Awareness Within. Organizations may be seen as having their own type of apartment buildings. The impulsive model has a strict division of labor with top-down authority, the traditional has a very stable organization with a process that is replicable, the Achievement model favors innovation and accountability, the Pluralist model is a values driven culture with emphasis on listening to the stakeholders. The second tier for an organization’s world according to Frederic Laloux is “Evolutionary”.

            The structure of an organization may be built in such a way that it understands the stages of development may be in many different places for the members/participants, but also understands that it is possible to hold the values of levels beyond what individuals have an understanding. It understands that in supporting individual growth, one also grows the community.

            “We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth“. Spoken with the photo capture of Earthrise. The photograph of Earth and some of the Moon’s surface that was taken from lunar orbit by astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission.

            The Apollo Missions had their goal/purpose spelled out for them: “Establishing the technology to meet other national interests in space. Achieving preeminence in space for the United States. Carrying out a program of scientific exploration of the Moon. Developing human capability to work in the lunar environment.” (nasa.gov) Every idea, action, line of budget, meeting, specialist, piece of equipment, media bulletin was tied to this mission statement. There was also room for individual growth and understanding within the mission, as captured by William Anders. William was able to make a leap beyond his own understanding previously because the mission parameters were kept, and the structure was built to give him an opportunity to experience something only few people from the planet Earth have ever experienced.

            This is not a perfect metaphor, but in faith-based organizations, not only do we need a sturdy apartment building, but we also need a spaceship on top of the building ready to offer even more perspective and experience for those who are able. Not everyone will be able to pilot the ship, not everyone will even feel comfortable approaching the ship, but the possibility of it needs to be present.

            An Evolutionary Purpose statement is the first step. In the case of Integral Ministry, we may start with: “Transforming Lives and Encouraging All to Make a Positive Difference in the World.” (Rev. Gary Simmons) In recognizing an evolutionary purpose there is a focus on the who, what, where, when, why and how of the community. The reliance totally on the minister for guidance and purpose is negated. All are aware of why they have chosen to be part of the community, and there is an understanding that the activities and decisions are all based around the purpose.

            For NASA to achieve the moon, there needed to be many groups of people. There were engineers, public relations, astronauts, trainers, scientists, computer programmers, mathematicians, logistics, historians, etc. If we go back to the apartment building, we have many different perspectives out the windows of each floor. There are many, many, many talents, and interests. One way to facilitate these talents and interests in a faith community is SpiritGroups.

SpiritGroups are small groups within the larger community that run under 5 major principles: (spiritgroups.org)

COMMUNION. Groups must utilize a prayer, meditation practice and/or personal reflection practice as part of each gathering. 
CONNECTION. Groups take time at each session for connecting socially. This is typically done with food/beverages available. Groups also engage in an extra-curricular social activity of their choice with each series.
COMPASSION. Groups stay connected beyond their weekly gatherings in order to address and provide support for the physical, spiritual or emotional needs of group members as they are able.
COMMUNITY. Groups engage in a service project together with each series to apply teachings in their community. This can include church service projects, community service, or service to the New Thought Movement at large.
CHALLENGE. Groups set intentions for their own growth at the beginning of each series and provide support and accountability to each other throughout each series as they take actions that align with these intentions.

The principles in the case of an Integral Ministry Practice also follow the Evolutionary Purpose “Transforming Lives and Encouraging All to Make a Positive Difference in the World.” This system of small groups helps to facilitate a structure in which everyone is working together instead of taking a single lead from the minister and to also “discover parts of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. The friction of working [in small groups] brings up wonderful possibilities to reclaim aspects of who we are that we have neglected or pushed into the shadows.” (Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations) The small groups give a safe place for people to fully show up and be both whole and vulnerable. Community connections are made, talents are expressed, and many traditional ‘pastoral care’ responsibilities are shared within the small group networks. People find a place, a belonging, and a way to live out the Evolutionary Purpose of the larger community.

They also have a safe place for exploring their own shadow and healing. The “possibilities to reclaim aspects” of self that was mentioned in the previous paragraph. The Quantum Living Process (theartofquantumliving.com) is a process in which one discovers both who they have come into humanity to be and what ‘shadows’ are being projected or holding them back from fully embracing the qualities they have the ability and talent to express. The process is based on the idea of shadow first postulated by Carl Jung and present-day cognitive science to work through one’s own little t and big T traumas. In learning how and why we are activated in situations ranging from minor annoyances to larger and complicated situations we understand how to have a conversation with someone else in a way that acknowledges we are working from a limited perspective or our own ‘story’ and that we can meet the needs we have of worthiness, acceptance, and love without the validation of the outside world. This skill and healing help us navigate our personal lives, small group misunderstandings and drama as well as larger community issues. Personal healing leads to better relationship with ourselves and the larger community. A community that is working on personal healing has a better chance of moving through and beyond any organizational challenges. The challenges and decisions are not based around one’s own insecurities and the issue stays directly with the organization.

The components of an Evolutionary Purpose, Small Groups and active healing through Shadow Work is essentially the spaceship on top of the apartment building. Each person in the group has the ability to move through their own healing on each floor, recognizing all perspectives/viewpoints/talents available at that floor creating a healthy, stable and safe environment to move to the next. It also creates a safe and healing environment to interact with the world outside the community. One lives the truth they are understanding in themselves and within the community in the healthiest way possible. They recognize the I AMness not only within themselves but shining throughout all creation in its many forms, and perspectives. The shadow work allows for the recognition of how we react to the perspectives and know that everyone and each community are working on their own aspects of healing. We move into taking care of each other in a society where it is increasingly hard to do so. Historically the clan, village and extended family took care of each other’s needs. Our society has separated into smaller and smaller groups and the ties of ancestry are no longer adequate for community. Small groups built into the faith community setting offers a chance for this interaction and a building of interpersonal relationships. It allows those groups to discover their own talents to not only share within the larger faith community but also the larger world. It is not necessary to tell people what the community is about, the Evolutionary purpose is lived. The minister requires a “stance that shows confidence and a strong commitment to the journey, as well as a willingness to say openly that any pretense of a comprehensive, up-front plan would be comforting, but an illusion; for a while, things will be out of balance and confusing.” (Frederic Laloux: Reinventing Organizations) And the members/owners of the organization need to feel connected and involved in the process of change to an Integral Ministry. Small Groups, and shadow work are part of this along with open communication and teaching personal development. The more the whole apartment building is aware of the ability to explore all of the aspects of the community and that there is a spaceship on the roof, even if one cannot imagine what that looks like, yet it is possible to follow the energy to that possibility.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is out light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Integral Ministry Practice with the components of Evolutionary Purpose, Small Groups and Healing/Shadow work is one way in which faith communities may remake the world. We need to rethink “the world, using a better, more comprehensive, more ultimately accurate map of this extraordinary territory [we] call … life.” Integral Theory and Practices indicate that there are “more avenues and perspectives through which Spirit itself can inhibit and fulfill your own being. The Total Painting of All That Is just got bigger for you – wider, deeper, higher, with all of it evenly being observed by your own true Witness… The remaking and rethinking of the world is a remaking and rethinking of your very own Self and its own deeper Suchness, even now again, which is why you can undertake this extraordinary task in the first place.

It is possible to remake this world because you – the very deepest you – are its one and only Author, its sole Creator. But it – you – are not alone, because the deepest Self of this deepest you is looking out through the eyes of every sentient being alive, including all 9 billion humans on the planet. You can remake the world because you possess 18 billion hands, more than enough to reshape and refigure all that needs to be done. Feel the unimaginable creative power of this one and only I AMness, and know anything is possible. Grab the very best map you can find, and strike out in the direction of this radically different territory, knowing the entire Creative Force of the whole Kosmos is your constant companion.” We may all start on the first floor of the apartment building within our community, but there is a spaceship on top, constructed through the Integral Ministry Practice to infuse all of us with the ability to reawaken and remake the world. “This is now your own moral imperative – by whatever lights you can find, shine on the World, radiate the World, illuminate the World, enlighten the World.”  (quotes from Ken Wilber, The Religion of Tomorrow)

Integrating Faith-Communities