I wanted to go to Christianity 21 but decided to spend money to go to the Jurgen Moltmann Theological Conversation instead…and it was an awesome and formative experience for me (and also sent me scurrying off to buy/read some more Moltmann books).
However, the Christianity 21 thing has stuck with me…particularly after reading/watching some of the responses of folk who were able to attend. The thing that profoundly occurs to me in these responses is how much more is said about the space created by the event to “be” …be followers of Jesus…be in community…be who attendees were created to be. I was struck particularly by 3 comments in the video above:
- Nadia Bolz-Weber says, “…and then there are those evangelicals who have discovered the liturgy, which is…adorable”…One, Nadia is hilarious and profound (check out her book). Much of the energy I have felt in the various emergent type meetings I’ve been privileged to attend has centered around such rediscovery of my tradition and the traditions of others who are also attempting to follow God in the way of Jesus.
- “We are more often than not people of doubt, who have beliefs than people of faith, who have moments of doubts.” TOO TRUE!!! I believe our getting this bass ackwards in our church “communities” is probably the biggest barrier to authentic community we face.
- The elderly man toward the end of the video… “This weekend has been something my heart and soul has been waiting for for 38 years…I wanted to go to heaven when I was 75, my password on the computer is heaven75. I lived 4 more years, I now I know why!” Is that not an amazing statement? I’m immediately reminded of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) who waited with great expectation for “the consolation of Israel”…and upon seeing the infant Jesus proclaimed,
“29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss[a] your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
I’m certain this cannot be written off cynically as just another over-hyped event. There is something going on here among us. I for one want to be a part of it. It has nothing to do with being hip and cool. It has everything to do with rediscovering the joy of my salvation.
Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.
I’ve been reading a lot about community development lately, specifically interested in how congregations might discover new ways to get outside our worship boxes and be more missional. My initiation into this topic was through my participation on the Together For Hope leadership team. This has let me to several books (specifically Practicing Community Development by Donald and Dorris Littrell; The Power of Asset Mapping by Luther Snow; Memories, Hopes and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change by Mark Lau Branson). I also was privileged to attend the University of Missouri Community Development Academy a couple of weeks ago.
In the course of my research and reading, two very practical questions arose (specifically from reading through Mike Green’s material):
1. What are the gifts of “hands, heads, and heart” in [your congregation]?
2. What are you willing to get off the couch and do?
Great questions for all of us as individuals and for our organizations, churches, and businesses.
I met a friend for beers at a local grill last night. He had endured a rough couple of weeks…the pre-mature and tragic death of a family friend, various faith frustrations. I’m dealing with my own frustrations at the moment and those were touched on as well in our conversation. It wasn’t a gripe session, a counseling session, or “ministry” in the sense of a “reportable activity for Mike Young…Ordained Baptist Minister” (billable hours as my attorney friends might put it). It was simply a couple of friends in conversation about things deeper than college football recruiting classes, steroids in baseball, or Duke/Carolina basketball. It was not a flash email or text or cell phone call. It was actual face-to-face friendship. It was a spontaneous, 2-hour, mutual pause in the busyness of life between two friends. It was meaningful conversation. It was “ministry” in the sense that we were followers of Jesus living life together.
Why is this blog worthy? Maybe it isn’t. However I follow that question with another: When was the last time you did that…had a meaningful conversation about real stuff…transparent, open and honest…with a good friend? Where did it occur? For you church people…I’m guessing it probably wasn’t at church (An assumption on my part but I feel confident in its accuracy). Why is that?
I left my house on Thursday to give someone a ride. I hung out at a coffee shop killing some time while my passenger (we’ll call him John) visited a friend, Charlie. After an hour or so, I went to pick John up again and take him to his new temporary apartment (arrangements that were necessary until his permanent housing becomes available). I know that’s a quirky way to begin a post but I thought I would share the mundane way my day started.
Except that it wasn’t really that mundane. A few more details…John’s friend is a poodle. A poodle named Charlie. The poodle is staying with a sitter while John waits for his new apartment to become available. The sitter had called and said that it was time for Charlie to be groomed. John called me this morning just before left the house to ask if we might add a trip to Charlie’s sitter’s house to our route. He spoke about his poodle as if it were his child. He talked about how it understood why he had to have it stay with a sitter and he knew the poodle would still love him. This all seemed a little humorous to me.
Except that it wasn’t really that humorous. John has HIV/AIDS. An HIV/AIDS ministry in our area called and asked if I could give John a ride because he was being “evicted” from the apartment he had been living in.
Except it wasn’t an apartment. It was a hotel. I was taking him to another hotel (one in which most folk reading this would never stay). He’s resigned to living in hotels until he is able to move into some new government housing that will be coming available in the next few weeks. This ministry helps John pay for the hotel rooms which keeps him from basically being homeless. Which makes you wonder where John’s family lives…one would think they could help John out through this tough time.
Except that his family has disowned John. They live 15 miles from the hotel where he was staying. His parents have “failed to live up to the title ‘parent’ for quite some time” according to John. Which leaves John and Charlie the poodle and the good folk at the HIV/AIDS ministry, and someone else that might be willing to keep his dog, or give him a ride, or just be a friend, to be…what? family? What I did doesn’t come close to qualifying as such.
(listen to excerpt) Tony Kornheiser on Spirituality
I’m a pretty big Kornheiser fan (I DVR PTI, I subscribe to the podcast of the radio show, etc.). I like him because he’s funny, intelligent, and his show is about much more than sports. In this clip, Tony and the gang talk about spirituality. I found it to be a fun/smart discussion. My goal for the coming year is to start a group that looks/feels like Tony’s Yom Kippur golf outing (click the title link above or here for the excerpt). I think at one level, what was so meaningful about that outing and what draws most of us toward that kind of experience is the community that allows such a conversation to occur. I want that. I know the dangers of trying to “program” something like that. However, the best church planting advice I ever heard was , “start something you need.” So…we’ll see what happens.