Zero to Sixty

We didn’t really know who was going to be part of our new community when we started.  We began by focusing on our affinity group, which is why we chose Sellwood in the first place.  Our affinity group is people who are most like us.  In the work of inviting new people in to a faith community it helps to start with common ground.  So we picked a neighborhood where the average age was late 30’s and most folks were white college educated professionals with young children.  That’s who we are. What we have found is that our community is all about common ground.  Some of it is age and life situation affinity, some of it is an affinity around a desire to worship in new ways.  The best part for me is that within the common ground is amazing diversity.  A great example is the age range of our community.  Our active participants range in age from a few weeks old to sixty-something.  I love that we aren’t a purely homogenous group.  We more accurately reflect God when we aren’t all the same. There is also something so rich and holy about the relationships developing across ages.  I can see this most clearly with our daughter.  She has some new friends her age, a baby to dote on, a dance partner in one of the twenty-somethings, and some older adults to mentor her.  I’m gaining a lot of insight as we’ve spent July discussing scripture.  To hear an 8 year old and a fifty year old talking about how they understand a scripture is nothing short of eyeopening....

A New Kind of Tired

I knew that doing a new church start would be hard work.  I had read the materials and attended the workshops.  I knew that Jeff and I needed to have date nights where we didn’t talk about either the new church or the kid.  I knew that I had to be on the look for burnout and that self care was a priority. Knowing all of this information is one thing.  Living it is another. I love being able to do this ministry, I really do, but sometimes I think longingly of the time when I will go back to “normal” church.  This surprises me.  I have worked for a long time to get to this place and now I’m daydreaming about going back?  Maybe that’s human nature.  The grass is always greener, right?  I know that’s not really what I want or what I’m called to do.  However the reality is this work is wearying and I’m feeling it deeply these days. One of my coping mechanisims is to think about an easier future. Part of this weariness may be that I haven’t been sleeping well for months now. Maybe it’s the road noise from Tacoma Street or my short-lived but serious addiction to the Jelly Defense game on my iPhone, but I think part of it is the challenge of letting myself rest when there is so much to do, so much to think about, so much to learn. This week I’m up at church camp with our daughter and a bunch of other kiddos.  I know this will be a time of renewal and a break...

I’m Never Going To Stop Being Surprised

5 years ago Jeff was hired at a church in Eugene, meaning he was no longer available to be the volunteer musician and worship leader at the church I was serving.  I had no idea what to do.  The church was reluctant to pay a musician, and even if we did how would we find the right person in our little town?  I worried and fussed for about a  week until the secretary of the church I had served in Washington called me to let me know that the pianist from that church was moving to Eugene for grad school.  Both she and her husband were amazingly talented and really cool!  We had them over for lunch one day and I talked about the possibilities.  That Fall Lauren started at Valley and working with her again has been one of the delights of my career.  Once you survive a musical Christmas Pageant together anything is possible. I tell this story sometimes to point out how dumb I can be when it comes to God.  I could not figure out a solution to my problem until it came wrapped on a silver platter of unexpected goodness and blessing.    While we can’t just sit around and expect things to fall in our laps there is a balance of not thinking we have to do everything alone.  I’m sure I’ll post a blog some day about the folks at that end of the extreme who feel like they can just pray away budget deficits or who respond to a request for some help on a project with trite platitudes.  This is...

Celebrating

We have a lot to celebrate!  Just one year in to this crazy adventure of starting a new community and we’ve begun to see exactly that which we had dreamed. Our weekly gatherings are simply beautiful.  We have people from ages 8-60something, with every decade represented.  These are people who would probably not know one another if it wasn’t for this gathering.  True community cuts across our normal social boundaries and allows us to connect with people who enrich our lives.  Our conversations are spiritually grounded and the food is fabulous!  I’m learning a lot from journeying with these folks.  It’s also lovely to know that I’m being held in prayer regularly and have a place to share the ups and downs of life. Our service projects are hard work, but we’ve done so much to make the world just a little bit brighter.  We’ve served meals to our neighbors, bagged food for a food bank, cared for a community garden, and done lots of work helping Bethlehem House of Bread transform in to a community center. Our book study and theology on tap have been awesome ways to learn more about where people see themselves spiritually and to discuss the places we each have questions in our faith lives.  These are ale conversations usually led by others.  I’m relishing the role of participant and listener and I know it is very good for my soul. We have a long way to go to live fully in to the vision God has for us in Sellwood and I know there will be bumps in the road as well as...