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Since Arbuckle popularized the term in his 1988 book, “Out of chaos: Refounding religious congregations,” much has been written and much has evolved. Today most people speak of the "transformation" of Religious life, rather than Refounding. When I wrote of Refounding (See Refounding Religious Life: A choice for transformational change), I defined it as:

“Communal refounding is a process of personal and communal conversion initiated in response to God’s call to choose life. It is a commitment to journey as a faith community into the dark night of the soul intended to transform minds, hearts, spirits and behaviors. It is a commitment to wrestle with the forces of sin and grace, life and death as well as the gift and shadow-side of a community’s charism amidst the unending call for reconciliation and redemption.

Communal refounding involves a transformation of consciousness regarding a community’s charism and its relevance for today’s world. This paradigmatic shift in a community’s charism, basic assumptions and operating values opens the door for creating a new vision. Experimentation with and development of new mindsets, heart-sets and skill-sets are requisites for carrying out this new vision. The dual commitments of grieving what must die while birthing a new way of being are essential for embracing this paschal mystery called refounding.”

I still hold this definition as valid today. I would add, however, that the processes inherent in Refounding are similar to those for any endeavor that involves Transformation of Deep Change for communities. The essential difference between refounding, reconfiguration, restructuring and transformation is emphasis on the inner and interpersonal work involved in transformation. The Journey of Transformation that I have developed and use to guide communities includes these five elements:

  1. Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing through new lenses and creating a new narrative;

  2. Reconciliation and Conversion: the womb of our becoming and the crucible of transformation;

  3. Reclaiming your inner voice: the seat and source of everything that lives;

  4. Experimentation and learning: becoming a learning community; acting your way into a new way of being;

  5. Transformative Visioning: Seeking a prophetic vision based upon your deepest longings and being transformed by the very processes that are used in this endeavor;


So, if your desire is to Transform your community, you are likely to journey through these same five spiraling (ever deepening) dynamics. For more information, see Dr. Ted Dunn’s Published Articles or contact Dr. Ted Dunn directly.

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