chris neufeld-erdman

Writer, teacher, pastor, and spiritual coach, my work with individuals and organizations focuses around three three key commitments:

1. Reprioritizing the role of the soulas the fountain of flourishing. We all, in one way or another, want to thrive. Who wants to die never having lived into who they really are? All around us non-religious researchers, practitioners, teachers, and consultants are rediscovering the power of the soul for human transformation. “Things aren’t working.” “The world’s in crisis.” “I need guidance.” “Something’s stirring inside me.” “Traditional religion seems irrelevant, but if I could find my spiritual life without religion’s uptight God, I’d sign up.” There’s a surging desire to rediscover the fire and force of our souls, to love well, do good work, make a difference, live with meaning, and build a better world. Soul-work is the work that religion, and pastors like me, ought to be about. My primary work is to help people bring out the best in themselves.

2. Renewing religionfor the age in which we’re living. Religion is often viewed negatively. But religion, if it’s true to its original meaning (Latin religio, which means to “reconnect”), could do at least two things for us today: first, it could help us heal the trouble inside us so we don’t make as much trouble outside us; second, it could help us discover the good inside us so we can manifest that goodness outside us. My leadership role with organizations is to envision and cultivate religious practice, spiritual experience, and organizational culture so we all “thrive—body, mind, and soul”.

3. Resourcing revolutionary justice for the common good. There’s a lot that needs to change in the world around us, but outer change requires inner and personal change otherwise our good intentions could perpetuate the cycle of abusive power when we are unconscious of what drives us. To foster justice, we must face the internal biases, prejudices, assumptions, habits, and behaviors that arise from those unconscious biases. To grow a just world we must grow ourselves. What might happen if we can learn to hear, honor, and heed the parts of ourselves we’ve marginalized, neglected, or denied? What if we grow into our full and flourishing selves? What if our institutions, communities, and societies learn to hear, honor, and heed the voices, perspectives, and experiences of those marginalized by the dominant cultural powers? 

My chief work is to guide individuals, organizations, and in particular, the congregation of Davis Community Church (Davis, California), shaping a religious culture that’s as hospitable to this inner work of the soul as we are passionate about our outer work of compassion, peace, and justice. If we do the former we’ll find the spiritual power to do the latter.

This focus isn’t some privileged, myopic, individualist, escapist navel-gazing nor is it an avoidance of thecall to right the wrongs and work for a better world. Rather, it’s the recognition that unless we transform the trouble within us, we’ll make trouble outside us. But if we, in the words of Jesus (Gospel of Thomas, saying 70), “bring forth what is within us”—if the light and the dark within us is bravely explored and transformed, we will find the gold within us for the good of all that’s outside us.

 
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