Christian Leadership-Always a Holy Experiment

by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director

Just try something new.

What if we stopped asking “What is the worst that could happen?” and started asking “What amazing thing might happen?”

This is the leadership mindset* that opens us up to God moving through us and our world. Imagine the possibilities if we started experimenting our way into the future!

It may be surprising, but this adaptive work is not new. In fact, the term “Holy Experiment” originated with William Penn in 1681.

Imagine this:

Penn thought everything would be possible in the New World, unlike in the England of his time, with The Holy Experiment in Pennsylvania.

Friends, we are in a new world. What if Penn is right? What if he was prophetic and the time is now? What if everything IS possible?

First, a brief history lesson…

According to The Holy Experiment, in Pennsylvania, Penn established the city of Philadelphia with aspirations that still have merit today:

  • Fair treatment for Native Americans
  • No military
  • A new approach to governance
  • Freedom of religion
  • An enlightened penal code where prison was to reform, not only to punish
  • Work for everyone
  • Education for everyone, girls and boys
  • A widened franchise where all men could vote [unfortunately, women were not yet included]
  • Town planning for healthy living with wide public squares and parks

And now…

What are our aspirations that could turn into Holy Experiments? Whose permission do you need to try stuff? What if you start small and just do it?

If you are not sure where to start, remember Penn and start with love.

*For more about leadership mindset and moving from a judger to a learner mindset, I highly recommend Change your Questions, Change Your Life, by Marilee Adams. It’s a very accessible book that will change the way you listen and ask questions not just at work, but in your everyday life as well.

3 replies
  1. Gay W. Zimmerman
    Gay W. Zimmerman says:

    Excellent, Peggy!!! Thank you! I look forward to a conversation with my grandchildren about changing the phrase, “What’s the worse ….?” to “What amazing thing …?” Two points from William Penn’s list for “The Holy Experiment, in Philadelphia”: What would have happened if William Penn’s point about Native Americans had taken hold? in a sense, it did take hold with promises to the Native Americans, but the promises were nearly always broken. An example is the Black Hills of South Dakota. The government promised the Lakota that they could remain in their sacred land. Then, gold was discovered, and the promise was broken. The Lakota are presenting a pretty cool plan for regaining their land. We’ll see. The 2nd point is the suggestion about having prisons that reform! This is such a major need in our time, and gratefully, discussions are beginning to happen. Let me brag, Peggy, about my grandson, whose dream is to be part of that reform. Thanks, again, Peggy, for this post and for all you do.

  2. Lynn Ellen Anderson
    Lynn Ellen Anderson says:

    Unfortunately, so many of us are tuned in to the “what’s the worse that could happen” So often, when people are considering a new endeavor, taking a new path in life, that is the phrase most often echoed by family, friends, colleagues. Go ahead, try it!! WTWTCH???? I, too, am guilty of this phraseology and thinking. Thank You so much for helping us see the light and possibilities of our decisions. It’s truly just a shift in purpose and thinking. MANY THANKS for this and all you do. I so enjoyed your presentation and getting to meet you last Saturday at the Maritime Conference Center. Take Care God Bless Can’t wait to see what happens with this new mindset!!

  3. Lisa L Jeffreys
    Lisa L Jeffreys says:

    Hey Peggy-
    This was one of the best articles you’ve offered. I don’t know a church who couldn’t benefit from this perspective. I have shared this so many times! Thank you LEAD team. You get it.


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