My friend, Neil Harris, a resident of Chicago, emailed me an article on Mishkan Chicago, a new organization that “aims to bring dynamic spirituality to the Windy City”. The organization is run by Lizzi Heydemann.
In describing what she is trying to create, one particular sentence stood out:
“What she doesn’t want to do is turn Mishkan into a synagogue, with its inevitable rules and decorum.”
To create a vibrant growing organization, you need to go beyond an inspiring leader and create a governing structure. Governing structures need rules to insure fair governance.
A successful organization needs their finances to be “squeaky clean”. Squeaky clean finances need rules. Rules on how to raise money and rules on how to spend money.
When an organization is spiritual focused, then rules can actually promote growth. The Mishkan itself had more rules on how it operated then any institution in history of mankind, yet it was the greatest center of spiritual connection ever witnessed.
Spiritual growth can occur beyond the confines of the prayer service. The Torah gives us the opportunity to grow in a board meeting, in a membership meeting, when making a budget. Rules express a concern for fairness and a caring for the collective membership. By shunning them instead of embracing them, an organization is leaving a lot of spiritual growth on the table.
I hope the citizens of Chicago continue their quest for authentic spiritual growth and look for those opportunities wherever they turn.