our story and our approach

 

The Francis Project was birthed by a series of mystical encounters, as well as approximately 8,760+ ordinary days of learning to rebuild broken relationships, tired churches, discredited ministries, non-existent chaplaincies, broken hearts and wounded spirits, in unimportant places and with everyday people.

 

It all began when Heather, at twelve years of age, stumbled across a book about the life of St Francis and read it in one sitting. She was hooked and secretly prayed that one day, she would visit San Damiano and see the place where this world-changing community (the Franciscans) found their humble beginnings. Little did Heather know then that twenty-six years later she would be moved in prayer to study ‘Franciscan pedagogy’ and build a community of practitioners around this ancient, yet modern, way of leading change.

 

As she tested this calling, a series of people came into her life and a community began to be weaved together by love and a shared hunger to see lost treasures reclaimed, new ideas released, and impossible change made possible. The first companion God brought was Shiung, who really has been the lynchpin of the whole operation. Heather met Shiung after guest-preaching at his church one Sunday. He is one of those rare geniuses who has done a bit of everything: started successful businesses, designed buildings around the world, opened a wine bar and served for ten years as a worship pastor. God very quickly, supernaturally, gave him a heart for this ministry, and with his business acumen and spiritual maturity, a vague idea became The Francis Project.

 

God also brought Luke, who was reluctant at first. His friendship with Heather was a slow-burn, until he became like the younger brother she never had, and the Catholic priest the team needed to be legitimately, authentically interdenominational. Luke is a tall guy whose stature holds spiritual integrity, as well as the capacity for big, healing hugs.

After these came Nicole, Claire, Dan, Steph, Justin, Harry, Craig, Kim and Jess. We will let them tell their stories, and how they became co-developers of this emerging community seeking renewal. You can read the whole, unfiltered back-story here.

franciscan pedagogy is a thing

 

It’s true that ‘pedagogy’ is a term used in the context of education, to describe the theory and practice of teaching and learning. Whilst those who work in different contexts, who aren’t teachers, might find the word left-of-field, we believe we are living in a time when the Church and leaders in our world, need a developed pedagogy for taking individuals and groups to a place of metanoia, of changed hearts and minds. In addition to developing cultural intelligence and change management principles, world leaders need literacy in the pedagogy of change and renewal. Change, at its most basic level, occurs as a process of teaching and learning. We change our minds by learning to think differently, and persuade others to do so by the way we teach.

 

People who lead change are in the business of educating people, not only to combat ignorance with new information, but rather to facilitate a change of heart and mind, not only about what’s true, but also about what is desirable, achievable and measurable. Effective leaders of change always have a growth mindset, are oriented towards lifelong learning and are, by nature, gifted teachers, though not necessarily in the traditional or academic sense. It was this kind of teaching that St Francis was brilliant at and so our working theory is this:

 

If a young guy in the thirteen century, with no money, few friends, no family support or social status, could change Church culture and shift the classism embedded in the feudal system in the space of ten years, then his methods are worthy of attention. His ability to shift mindsets and turn hearts that were disillusioned with the Church, back to community, streamed from a pedagogy that could surely be useful in change leadership today. If his practice could be authentically distilled, classified and practiced, it might just be the gold, frankincense and myrrh that many change leaders are seeking for the twenty-first century.