Embracing and Transforming Chaos

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The story of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:4a affirms two realities of faith: the reality of God and the reality of chaos. This account of creation affirms God’s embrace of chaos as God’s identity defines the reality of chaos. Speaking the days of the week into existence, God creates a future that is different from the past by ordering the creative possibility that is present in chaos.

Transformational Christian leaders affirm their faith in the reality of God by embracing the reality of chaos.  They realize the identity of their leadership can shape and define creative possibility that is present in chaos.

Rather than embracing chaos, most churches try to avoid, control, or conquer it. However, transformational Christian leaders understand the power of this creation story when they encounter chaotic situations. Rather than attempting to control, destroy, or avoid chaos, they affirm their faith in the reality of God by embracing the reality of chaos. Understanding that transformation is the story of creation being told in the present tense, they realize the identity of their leadership can shape and define creative possibility that is present in chaos. Leading a movement of hope into a future that is different from the past, they influence and order future responses to present conditions.

In consulting with churches and non-profit organizations, we find that non-ordered chaos often defines current reality. Rather than leadership defining and ordering chaos, chaos is more often defining and ordering leadership. In these situations, the story of that church or non-profit is not the story of a future that is different from the past. It is usually the story of organizational life being defined by a past that is different from the future. Christian transformational leaders help to order a movement of hope by their identity and by telling the story of creation in the present tense. They tell the story of a future that God has already created as they affirm their faith in the reality of God and the reality of chaos.

How does your church or non-profit respond to chaotic situations? How do you respond to chaotic situations? Your answer may very well be the beginning of a story of transformation.


Marc Brown, Kathy Ashby Merry, and John Briggs are authors of the congregational planning resource Does Your Church Have a Prayer?, Discipleship Resources, 2009.

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About Author

Kathy Ashby Merry pursued her calling to the world of church work after retiring, at age 42 from a 15-year business career.

Marc Brown is director of Connectional Ministries for the Virginia Annual Conference and chairperson of the Common Table.

John Briggs is a retired pastor in the Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC


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