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system status

We've installed a marvelous new device at the parish where I work. It monitors things like the volume of voices in the parish meeting rooms, the blood pressure, pulse, and degree of sweatiness of the staff and congregation, and a number of other factors to measure congregational anxiety in units called "Friedmans." Remarkably, here's the readout on the "Friedmanometer" today:


If you're wondering what the heck I'm joking about, here are three books on something I find absolutely indispensible for understanding and exercising leadership within a congregation, namely family systems theory:

Ed Friedman, Generation to Generation
Ed Friedman, Friedman's Fables

... and a book that I actually prefer to Friedman's for readability:

Ron Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church

April 6, 2005 in Churchiness | Permalink


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So does the Friedmanometer measure the "non-anxious presence" in the room? If so, we could use one of those at my div school.

Posted by: Friday Mom | Apr 7, 2005 5:27:58 AM

The manufacturers studied the potential market for that extensively, and they concluded that divinity schools would get more use out of something that could detect tigers than they would from something that could detect a non-anxious presence. Since the study, several div schools have installed the former, and they each report that they have had no tiger attacks since installing the device.

Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Apr 7, 2005 7:49:52 AM

We're going through some serious changes now and the non-anxious presence is greatly needed and noticeably absent. If we could find it, I think we might have some idea who to follow. We have a new dean coming in July. It is my hope that she'll be that for us. Until then, we could settle for the tiger detector.

Posted by: Friday Mom | Apr 7, 2005 3:38:22 PM

I wonder how many among the theoretically non-anxious presences have at some time taken Xanax?

Posted by: Songbird | Apr 7, 2005 6:06:58 PM


To paraphrase the great Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap:

"It would be much harder for me to be a non-anxious presence if I weren't under such heavy sedation."

Posted by: Sarah Dylan Breuer | Apr 7, 2005 10:25:44 PM

But will others in the Friendly Forest really want the absence of non-anxious presences? Or does the Tiger help them to define who they are?

Posted by: rev mommy | Apr 8, 2005 8:08:21 PM

Richardson just came out with "Becoming a healthier Pastor," Augsburg-Fortress I think. It is totally based on utilizing anxiety-meters.

Posted by: Rev Palouse | Apr 9, 2005 5:25:37 PM

I rank "Generation to Generation" as the most influential book I've read in the last 20 years. Think about that. This book changed the way I think about everything.

BTW, I'm still not a non-anxious presence, but I have learned to look and react like I'm not anxious. And that's better than nothing!

Posted by: real live preacher | Apr 15, 2005 11:23:33 PM

Does anyone know who initially coined the term "non-anxious presence"

Posted by: Elizabeth | Jun 1, 2005 7:04:39 PM

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