For Such a Time as This: Meditations on Organizational Transformation

Center for FaithJustice unveils a new name, Goodfaith, as part of a multiyear process of organizational transformation aimed at better serving the needs of young people and the broader community.

February 23, 2024

By now, you have hopefully been introduced to our new name, Goodfaith, which we were delighted to share with the world on 2/26/24. This date was chosen as homage to our founding scripture, James 2:26, as a way of both honoring our past while venturing boldly into the future.

(Just in case you missed that announcement, here is a short video discussing who we are and our continued commitment to young people of faith.)

Over the last several months as we started to share news of this shift with friends, donors, and partners, the most common refrain was: “Cool! But … why now?”

This is a great and important question. The answer is found in what has been a multiyear process of discernment about the future of our organization.  By early 2021, we had survived the worst of the devastating financial ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  (No small feat for an organization of our size!)  But, we were nevertheless faced with some challenging questions regarding our long-term viability and sustainability.  

Even before COVID, we had tracked declining enrollments and diminishing returns in many of our historic programs.  This was not unique to us, necessarily – ministry programs across sectors were trending similarly.  Year-to-year drops, which were relatively unremarkable seven to 10 years ago, had become much more pronounced and were having acute programmatic and financial effects.         

External forces, too, lent additional urgency to this process of self-reflection.  Our Church, particularly as it pertains to the engagement of young people, had been at a crossroads for some time. Our faith communities were (and are) more fractured than ever.  The world outside of sanctuary walls was (and is) hurting, too.  Deeply.

We needed to do better.  And fast.    

Organizationally, we really had to ask ourselves – what does our Church need from our organization at this critical moment in history? What does our world require of us? 

As Pope Francis wrote in Let Us Dream (2020): “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of.”  Our leadership accepted this call to action, took a deep dive, and began to dream.  We asked and answered a lot of hard questions about what was working and – perhaps more importantly – what we needed to let go of in order to grow and transform.  We emerged with clarity about our identity, meaning, and purpose:  what we value, what we want, and what we seek to achieve.  

Nothing was spared in this discernment, up to and including the name of the organization.  And, the more we tested and did market research (and we did quite a bit!), the clearer it became that the name Center for FaithJustice would no longer carry us into the future.  A tough but not entirely surprising pill to swallow, given the feedback we have received during our travels in recent years.  

Changing an organization’s name is no small undertaking.  Working with a marketing firm, we began to intentionally map out what would be involved and how long it would take.  We reviewed and brainstormed literally hundreds of options, intentionally considered about 10, and finally narrowed it down to two finalists.  After much prayerful consideration, we ultimately landed on Goodfaith about a year ago.

We knew that 2024 was the time to make this shift commensurate with a few other organizational milestones, perhaps most notably the publication of a major five-year research study.  This will be the second major undertaking of this kind investigating how our unique approach deepens discipleship among young people. (More on that in March 2024!).  It made sense for us to embrace this as an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world, put our stake in the ground, and scale our work nationally. 

And yet, even as we looked forward, we were steadfast in our commitment to the core values that made us us.  Our consultant (and now friend), Tony, compared the process of transitioning to new name to that of breaking in a new pair of shoes. A little exciting, a little uncomfortable. Sometimes leading to soreness and blisters and perhaps even a little buyer’s remorse. Trust me when I tell you that we felt all of that – and more – in preparation for this launch.  Because even if you really like the look and style of the new shoes, it might take some time to be ok with the feel.  

We’ve had about a year to sit with and break in our new name. It rolls off the tongue a lot more naturally now than it did at the beginning. I trust that it will feel that way to all of our friends and partners, too, at some point.  Much like our work with young people, we view this shift as a long and winding journey … and we’re just getting started.      

It has been a relief to share it with those closest to us, particularly our friends and donors that have been with us since the beginning. Market research is one thing, but our shared history means so much more. Change is really hard, but everyone has been incredibly gracious in their response and embrace of these new changes.

I recently had lunch with our founder, Seán Sanford, to share this news and some updates about where we’re headed. Besides being someone I deeply admire, Seán has become a trusted confidante over the last decade – always open to the new, somewhat crazy ideas I have for the organization that he imagined and built from nothing two decades ago.  We commiserated about the challenges of doing mission-based work in this climate and ruminated about the future direction of our Church. We joked about being middle-aged, mid-career, pondering where the Spirit might be leading our somewhat beleaguered bodies and minds.

But, more than anything, we talked about the need to keep moving forward – as individuals, as families, as communities, and beyond.  As Paul said to the Galatians “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up” (6:9).  Standing still is simply not an option.  The only way to grow is to lean into the discomfort of the new shoes. Experiment. Innovate. Evolve. Transform.

Organizationally, we could have very easily made the decision to stay the same. My hair would certainly not be as gray and my forehead would be less wrinkled. My kids wouldn’t constantly bemoan “why are you working all the time?!”  But as the steward of this sacred organization bequeathed to my team by Seán and so many others, I knew that would lead us to atrophy and, very likely, closure.

The only way to transform the world around us is to first transform what is within us.  (Hence our new tagline:  Transformation.  In us and through us.)    

As we prepared ourselves for this organizational moment, I’ve mediated a lot with this verse from the Book of Esther: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this” (4:14).  I strongly believe that the Spirit inspired this transformation to position us to do the most good for this moment in time.  I pray that we will have the courage to keep going despite the many obstacles in our path.    

We can’t thank you enough for your continued trust in, support of, and enthusiasm for our mission.  We promise that some very exciting things are on the horizon!  For now, know of our gratitude as we continue to journey – together – in good faith.     



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