Every once in a while you hear a phrase, word or expression that hits the nail on the head in terms of representing something you’ve been looking for or perhaps hoping to better describe. On a recent trip to Copenhagen my musings about creating environments of truth, caring, trust and hope in our congregations were helped by the Danish word “hygge” (often pronounced “hooga”). The word conveys the notion of wellbeing and experiences of hominess, coziness, warmth, togetherness, the absence of annoyance and the presence of the sacred. Hygge is what happens you are warmly, genuinely and comfortably hugged. It is about feelings, circumstances and places that answer some forms of the old Quaker question: What was the center of warmth in your life when you were a child (a place in the house, a time of year and perhaps a person). It may be kin to the “it” that Craig Groeschel speaks of in It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It.
Hygge is about hosting oneself and others in a way that aligns with the best of ourselves and such that there is a fostering of our thriving together. On a personal level, I have a hygge chair where I read, pray, sit in silence, examine my conscience, sip morning coffee or night-time tea. In the winter it becomes more hygge when the heater is on and there is a blanket over my legs. On an interpersonal level, we experience hygge around great food, family moments and enjoyable home guests or watching a favourite movie, listening to music, engaging in great conversation or reading our books with the fireplace going. You get the picture and you’ll have your own designs and experiences for defining hygge. A question might be: What does it take in our small groups or congregational settings to create hygge experiences. No doubt there are mysterious and divine aspects to hygge (hidden or not hidden, God is present). I have wondered about the practical and proactive design aspects of hygge. I think leadership is about hosting hygge. Perhaps explicitly asking congregations or small groups when they fell most warmly hugged, deeply loved or supernaturally refreshed – and then reflecting with them on how we might get more of this – might this designs informed by these conversations result in more hygge (more authentic koinonia) and further provide contexts and communities for God’s ongoing transformational work? (See our March 20th, 2019 newsletter for Danish position in world-wide happiness index)
Are you listening? The relevance of what pastoral/ denominational leaders and theological educators are saying about preparing leaders for ministry
What might pastoral leaders in flourishing congregations have to say to theological educators in preparing leaders for the church and visa-versa?
Drawing on interviews and focus groups with over one hundred pastoral/denominational leaders across Canada, four key themes emerged:
Equipping the Saints;
Practical Discipleship Training;
Spiritual Formation of seminary students;
Missional and Organizational Training.
The article contains several ways that pastoral leaders and theological educators might move forward with these findings.
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well
There are many books that provide definition, history and practical suggestions for the creation of hygge. So far, my favourite is by Meik Wiking, who is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (he is a social scientist). This is not an academic book but a practical, short, accessible, and storied book on the author’s observations and experiences of creating hygge. It is full of ideas and super practical means; it is Canadian culture relevant book and I think it would make a wonderful book club or small groups leader or pastoral and lay staff recommended reading book. How do we create spaces that build community, that comfort and embrace the human spirit; how does one design life and its patterns to be friendly to the way God made us. I loved the story Meik tells in the early part of the book about a weekend with friends at an old cabin (short day in terms of light, lots of snow, sun setting, fire going, eating homemade stew, everyone nestled in blankets). One of the friends rhetorically asked “could this by any more hygge?” A the response from one friends was “yes, if there was a storm raging outside.” I won’t over interpret this BUT I do think that in the rather crazing world, we might draw on some of the best of our hygge patterns, practices and principles as we invite people in from the cold and ragging (even crazy) world to join in our Faith and familial communities.
Ambrose Spring One-Week Long Module Courses: From Mission Centred Church Planting to Leadership and Leadership Formation to Biblical Theology of Justice and more . . . For a full course listings visit the Ambrose Website
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