Weird Church

This week both Jeff and I got to do something new.  We attended two book release parties and sat on a panel at the events.  Jeff did the Thursday night honors, while I spoke on Saturday.  Weird Church was written by one of our friends, Beth Estock who is a local pastor and coach.  Her writing partner is Paul Nixon a pastor and coach from the east coast.  In their book they talk about shifts that have occurred in the culture and new forms of ministry taking place.  Here’s what Amazon says about the book, “In the post-Christendom era, the institutional church just isn’t what it used to be. But don’t give up hope for the future of faith. Weird Church offers church leaders a clear vision of what’s coming next, so long as they’re willing to live into a few critical shifts. Utilizing Spiral Dynamics as a means of framing the current changes in North American culture, Nixon and Estock give a thrilling forecast of where the church is going as we race toward the mid-century. This book is a wake-up call for those who still think church revitalization is simply a matter of doing better the things that used to come so easily. A must-read for anybody who is designing Christian ministry for the new world that is rapidly emerging around us.”It was exciting to be on the panel and to hear from the other panelists about the amazing ways church is unfolding here in Portland.  What I most appreciated about the experience was the chance to share our story and to be hopeful about the future of the...

Black Bodies and the Justice of God

Last week the church season of Lent began.  This is a time of purposeful growth, where Christians examine their lives and attempt to give something up or take something on that increases our ability to be more like who God would have us to be.  Lent asks us to take on suffering, not to harm ourselves because we are bad.  Lent is a season of stretching, a time of growing pains, a place to face the things we long to avoid. This Lent at the Sellwood Faith Community we are reading a wonderful, difficult book called Stand You Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.  We are meeting weekly to talk about our learnings from the book. We are admitting to our racism, our broken thought processes, and our willful blindness about our culture that perpetuates oppression.  At the end of each discussion I ask the question, “What are you going to do in your life based on your learnings from this reading and our conversation?”  It is wonderful to be intellectually changed, but our world will not be any different if our lives aren’t changed as well.  One of our members is reading books by African-American authors this year to increase exposure to the voices of others.  Some of our members are having intentional conversations with the children in their lives about the fullness of our history as a nation.  Others are taking inventory of their pasts and honestly naming the times that they participated in discrimination, with a mindfulness to operate differently now. As Lent continues our learning and pain will deepen as we acknowledge the...

Lucky Girl

I am fortunate to serve on the Host Team for General Conference 2016.  For those of you not fluent in  United-Methodist-ese General Conference is the United Methodist Church’s global gathering.  It is held every four years for us to revise our rule book (awesomely called the Book of Discipline) and to deal with other business of the global church. This May about 5,000 people will come to Portland to participate in this process. I am on the team that is coordinating the host part, which is stuff like greeting people at the airport, staffing the prayer rooms, and running registration at the convention center.  Our whole goal is to be welcoming and hospitable.  We want to live out the Christian values of welcome and love in the way we help people get here and make them comfortable.  It’s fun to be part of the nonpolitical side of the event.  I’m learning a lot about my denomination and getting to work with amazing people. I have a lot to be thankful for from this experience, but the highlight has been my two partners in crime, Brett & Tim.  We are each the head of an area of the host team.  Our areas and tasks are different, the ways we work are different, our methods of communicating are different, and yet we are a solid team who have each other’s backs.  It is so very rare in my world for pastors to work together as equals on a project like this.   I have learned things from both Tim & Brett in the time we have been part of the host...

The Toll It Is Taking

I am so incredibly lucky to be a church planter.  This is what I was made to do.  Connecting with new people, hosting dinners, dreaming about what communities of faith could look like, and creating space for people to grow are all the things that give me such joy and energy.  I feel like I am living in to my God given purpose in this work. That said new church life is not all sunshine and puppies.  My devotional scripture for the morning was from the book of Malachi in the Old Testament of the Bible.  The passage for the day talks about refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap.  I understand the refining process thanks to Mr. Cross and 11th grade Chemistry.  Fuller’s soap however necessitated a quick Google search.  It turns out a fuller made cloth.  The process involved beating, wetting, and cleaning the cloth to make it consistent and strong.  Some days in church planting it does feel like someone has taken a wet rock to my insides. While my denomination and leadership are supportive there have been plenty of misunderstandings and times when we were at cross purposes.  The sustainability sword of Damocles dangles over us at every turn.  People have left who were once enthusiastic about this adventure while some who express an interest don’t ever come to events.  I frequently have no idea what I am doing.  In the past 2 1/2 years I have gained 30 pounds, sprouted a plethora of gray hairs, and been sick much more frequently than in the past.  Maybe this is just what nearing 40 looks like, but it...