Monday, June 15, 2009

18 years ago today...

I know i promised to write some reflections about the language we use for church and what that says about our ideas regarding “church” but today is my 18th anniversary to the most beautiful and awesome woman i have ever met - Jennifer.
At the moment we have way too many unresolved things going on in our lives like job transitions for both of us, and being 7/8 of the way through buying a new home which is always stressful (anyone have $200,000 lying around taking up space they need to get rid of???) So instead of spending time today writing here I’m heading out to try to put together something nice (and cheep) for my anniversary. Talk to ya next week

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pick-ups or Motorcycles???

It has been an interesting week for various reasons. First of all, my family and I are in the process of finding a new place to live come July 1st, as we start this new chapter in our lives by starting a new congregation in the Vancouver area.

Second, I have had several conversation the last couple of weeks that I would like to unpack a little here.

Earlier this week i was sitting with a group, and the conversation turned to the new congregation I was starting. As I spoke about the values and methods I am hoping to instill in this new community, I found several people becoming defensive. It was very apparent that in hearing me talk about something new and different, they heard that the old style/system was was wrong or evil or worthless. It dawned on me that our churches (the ones that exist now) are pretty fragile, not only financially or in terms of facilities, but emotionally as well. I find myself reassuring people (my colleagues included) that the style of “church” they pastor or participate in isn’t evil, wrong, or worthless. After all it was in a church like that where I first learned of Jesus.

I admit that I am running up against something that I didn’t expect, even before the official date of an appointment to start a new congregation begins. This notion that a new or different church is a threat to existing churches. Well, let me clarify that. I always new that some people will always see a new church as a threat, due to turf issues and and the fear “of stealing members” (as if we own them). I have certainly run into that , but what i didn’t expect was the defensiveness and perceived threat that voicing something new is needed for a different group of people evokes.

It feels like a conversation I had last year with a stranger in a parking lot. I was riding my motorcycle and had stopped to get a coke and fill up with gas. I came back out after paying for my coke and sat on my motorcycle. For those of you that don’t know, motorcycles typically don’t come with cup holders, and drinking a coke through a full face helmet is not really very practical. I took a drink of my coke, screwed the lid on the bottle and tucked it into my jacket and was about to put my helmet on when I hear from the guy next to me in the parking lot “That's why I don’t ride those things...” I looked over and smiled and said “ya sometimes you have to be a little creative when carrying something”... He then went on for 5 minutes about how his pickup was the only vehicle worth a damn, and that motorcycles were worthless. I just smiled realizing 5 minutes of my life was gone that I will never get back, and restrained the urge to throw my empty bottle in the back of his pick up as i drove off. What a worthless conversation! If i were wanting to haul a palette of 2X4’s my SV650 wouldn’t be the vehicle of choice. If i want to get 50 MPG and always have a place to park, a 1973 Ford F150 wouldn’t be my vehicle of choice. To argue that one is worthless is just idiotic. To argue that a congregation that addresses the issues of discipleship and faith in a different way for a different group of people somehow implies another congregation is worthless is a conversation that i am growing weary of. But I also know that when I feel emotionally fragile or vulnerable I make arguments that maybe I wouldn’t otherwise. Your milage may vary...

Next week I will be writing a little bit about the language we use for “church” and what that reveals about us . In the mean time please continue praying for my family and I as we prepare to begin this new congregation.

1 month and counting till I am officially appointed to start a new congregation in Vancouver, WA!