There are many good things happening in the Church today, and yet we often only hear negative stories. With this in mind I am proposing a synchroblogging/face book posting event for the 2nd February. You are invited to share a local positive and encouraging story. God is with us, working in, through and amongst us - lets talk about it!!!! let's speak out....Being in a cooperative mood, I'll pick up on Sally's pair of basic questions; I'm also including a version of Romans 6:4 I did a few months ago, that along with Indiana Bible College's amazing video of the "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe—listening to it raises me to heaven and brings heaven to earth and into my world—somewhere I heard the phrase "Holy Ghosted Roasted," and this performance of this song sears and enlivens me. You know the expression about someone needing a fire lit under them? This song surrounds me with blazes of glory.
What is God doing in the life of your local church?
Probably lots of activity hidden underground that won't come to light for quite a while, but I'll boldly focus on a couple recent, grace-filled responses to my own too-long cries of devastation:
1) a couple weeks ago I met with the church council of one of the congregations I'm involved with and despite the fact a new class of officers soon would begin serving, not only the pastors but everyone present was very enthusiastic about my participating and assisting in writing some grants in preparation for possibly putting some neighborhood programming into place and play; senior pastor told the group how my facilitating discussions of incarnational theology during Advent pretty much directly had led to this point.
2) just yesterday I got an email from M, who's relatively new to *my* other church of some involvement saying I was on her list of story-telling interviews for the missional transition team. As a semi-aside, I knew they were doing that, and a few months ago someone else asked me if I wanted to be on one of the emerging subsets of the transition team, and I'd replied "maybe yes, maybe no—I think I've been barking up the wrong tree and need to look elsewhere for situations that will meet my needs to use my gifts, education and experience in a more comprehensive manner." To yesterday's email I sent a basically honest reply that didn't reveal much detail, in essence saying,
"You do not want to hear what I have to say...but I believe we met at the most recent 2nd Sunday Café and check out the blogs listed with my sig if you'd really like to get a clue..."Then after M's gracious and open response, (sort of accidentally) I sent her a partially written email despite intending to save it as a draft. In that one I explained:
For the past few years I've spent the greater part of my time thinking about, reading about, talking about, writing about and obsessing about the nature and mission of the church. Back in City of History I was designated mission developer at the church I served, and honestly, I feel absolutely lost at Old Condo Shadows, despite having had lots (literally dozens) of teaching opportunities, which is the main reasons I stayed at all.And then, M's instant response:
I totally remember you. Your walk is interesting to me. I would love to talk to you further. Could we get together for a coffee next week, in the evening. Or, would you like to meet up for dinner, so that we can talk about ways to develop [this church's] bible studies and growth programs?My next email to M explained more:
Despite having no regrets whatsoever about not continuing to serve so-called professionally in the church, although I knew there would be many exceptions, I'd also assumed someone with my gifts plus education plus experience would find a place of belonging, a place of embrace after a few attempts. Instead I've being considered a threat by pastors and by church musicians, ignored and dismissed by most people in the pew and tried hard to figure out how much to say about my background...So the Spirit of Life opens both of our hearts and minds and quickly moved us beyond Story-Telling to imagining further possibilities all around! Yay!
...without claiming any of the past dozen or so years are "all my fault," because however I slice it too many folks have been too rude or at best clueless and indifferent (hospitality is God's first call; everything else follows...), I need to acknowledge I know my experiences would have been very different had I returned to Renowned University Town or journeyed northward to City of Academic Excellence, for a couple of examples; I'd have met people who'd have been excited about my background and (maybe even) better, would've given me a theological run for my money!
Which good news story are you going to share?
This Gospel in which we stand, the Good News into which we are baptized, is life-giving, world-changing, society-transforming, creation-renewing death and resurrection stuff! It's not about endless recycling of the same thing, so why do you still seek the living among the dead? This is the community that already has experienced its second birth and first death; right here and right now, we live on the other side of death, Holy Ghosted Roasted by the Spirit of Life in the sovereignty of life!