Friday, February 27, 2009

I am a fighter, not just a lover

Next week our church will announce new budget cuts and layoffs. We will lay off highly capable and valued staff. For me this has been a very emotional reality to come to terms with and I am trying very hard to let God form and transform me as I process through feelings of frustration, loss and helplessness.

There are the things one would expect.
A great feeling of loss because I know our team, our work family will be affected.
There is fear for my own job since Michael is not working and also knowing each person on our team so well, some level of understanding for how they will be affected if they are chosen for the lay off.

There’s wondering how to manage more with less-
There was a great history of this expression on NPR yesterday- the audio is here
Am I up to the task?
Will I have the chance to be up to the task?
Is it better to go or to stay?

If I stay, can I stay healthy and balanced in the midst of increased workload and pastoral/leadership needs. The reality is that when crises happens more listening is required and being a task oriented person, my instinct is to put my head down, figure out how to maneuver a challenge and put my own emotions and others aside. How can I love well those who are leaving and those who are left?
Even this week, seeing how differently we all deal with the stress has left me worried about how I will handle the announcements as part of a whole, and not just as an individual.

And, there is dusting off what I know to be true… that God is in the midst of these decisions, and it’s part of how he renews and grows his church, through dispersing us. But I find myself not having the heart to authentically summon up those convictions- maybe tomorrow.

Today, the piece that I am struggling the most with is this feeling that I am removed from the decisions. This is not about the process or the people- I know that the difficult decisions will be carefully and prayerfully made, but it is driving me NUTS not to be able to get in the room with the decision makers and let them know what I know, what I think, to be heard. It’s a feeling of utter helplessness. I am a fighter, not just a lover, and I want to fight for the things and people I believe in.
I feel helpless.
Is this my leadership gifting at work? the mother bear in me?
these seem good on the surface…
This is where God and I have been doing a lot of talking the past couple of days.

I am beginning to realize that this feeling, this wanting to be in a driver seat, to be heard, that if I could get in there and fight… there’s a lot of pride in it.

So, I am working on approaching all of this with a genuine humility and submission as a part of a team that will be hurting next week, to love them through it, to respect everyone involved from the decision makers to the most deeply affected, to not be an individual, but to be in it and with those around me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Next Adventure

Molly decided to go on the Senior Mission Trip with our church this year. They are going to Helene Honduras for 2 weeks in June and I was invited (after making it very clear I was interested) to join the team too. I'll chronicle our trip here... of course.

I know next to nothing about what I've committed to but I am incredibly excited to:
1- do this kind of cross-cultural missions
2- return to Honduras
3- join Molly on this amazing opportunity to serve and grow

Tomorrow night is our first meeting, to see who the kids are... connect with the other adults who are on the trip and begin to get our heads around the info and hearts in the game.

Here's some info on alternative missions the agency we serve with.


There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see. - Leonardo DaVinci

So, you know how people have a country that you'd love to visit... mine is Italy.
It's a total dream... not likely a reality... but a girl can dream... right?

Today, on a quest for the art of Italy, I did the next best thing? and went to a traveling Leonardo Divinci exhibit at OMSI our Science Museum.

Some quotes from the day...

"Though human ingenuity in various inventions uses different instruments for the same end it will never discover an invention more beautiful, easier, or more economical than nature's, because in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing
is superfluous."

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
Who knew Yoda was quoting DaVinci?

Art is never finished, only abandoned.
He worked on the Mona Lisa for 16 years and was still not done reworking the piece when he died.

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.
Some part of me intuitively knows this... yet convicting, none the less.

The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, and far below the musician in that of invisible things.

Things I now/know love about Leonardo DaVinci
1- he was an avid journaler; i have a book I scribble in though i doubt it will end up in a science museum

2- he was interested in so many things... a life long learner... i really admire this quality. On one of the exhibit posters was this line...
"Leonardo remained interested"
I think that would be a nice thing to be remembered for. I worry about getting set in my ways, about becoming dull or numb.

3- he thought he was clever by creating his own little language of writing things backward. that basically cracks me up or should i say... pu em skcarc yllacibas

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Recalibrating Conference

Yesterday a few of us from Sunset attended the "Recalibrating Concepts of Church" Seminar at George Fox college. It's part of their Ministry in Contemporary Culture Series. I decided to go because I'm looking for ways to broaden and challenge my thinking on a tight budget.

The panel was:
Len Sweet, So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life in the Church (due out in March) MaryKate Morse, author of Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence Frank Viola, author of Reimagining Church
Alan Hirsch, author of Reactivating the Missional Church
Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church

I was challenged and my thinking was broadened, both personally and from a ministry emphasis perspective. The conference began with this line in the opening prayer... "gather to think about how to serve you better" seemed like a good way to spend 4 hours.

Here are some notes. Agree or disagree it's what I heard.
If you're interested check back here in a week or so, as they were hoping to podcast the seminar and I'll add the link.

Dan Kimball
- so much of "church" is a created subcultrue bubble vs. a mission engaged in the culture
- the longer we are Christians the less we hang out with non- Christians.
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
This Scripture assumes we'd actually be hanging out with people who would want to know the reason for the hope we have.
- think of my community as a mission field, does our church reflect the values and people in our community. We must be faithful to Scripture but there is freedom in form.
- We must be the church and stop thinking of church as the building we go to.
- People should serve on the mission according to their giftedness
- Paid staff whould be equippers, coordinators
- the building is a missional training center and should become part of the city/community
- there is a heaven and a hell; don't forget the urgency of the mission
** i love Dan Kimball, so much of his version of how we can be the church resonates with me, it's mostly a session of me nodding my head yes.

Frank Viola
- we must see the theology of church as a living organism rather than an institutionaal organization
- organic church life comes from another realm (spiritual) it began with in the fellowship of the trinity and should be reflected in our church life
- God did not originally create us to save us, church is not a voluntary club for the saved, Genesis 1, 2 God reated humans not to save them but for them to be in his eternal purpose. Read the Scripture, why were we created?
- God is not centered on meeting the needs of human beings , we have a God with an eternal purpose which is not about us, it is beyond our need
- the impulse to bring a lost person to Christ is correct but now complete. Salvation is not everything, it is the beginning.
- Church meetings should be about expressing God's manifold wisdom, expressing the glory and riches of the Lord's headship of the church
- if you give people a revelation of Jesus Christ you won't need to tell people to love one another, they will fall in love with Jesus, they will share him naturally.
- we must contextuallize the Gospel in all cultures to fully understand God.
- If Christians come together around Jesus alone it is supernatural. How can we do more of this in our gatherings.
** he was passionate, challenging. Communicated things and in ways I'm not used to and I know he would like that.

Mary Kate Morse
She discussed some myths of power in ministry and relationships.
As you read them remember these are NOT true
1- Leadership is embodied in a person who influences a group.
Actually leadership is not just something that one person brings to a room, the group is involved in the process, allowing themselves to be influenced.
2- Power is corrupting and contrary to serving
Actually power is neutral, it's the ability to cause of prevent change. How do I use it? as a leader and a follower? There is a stewardship issue in both positions.
3- There's plenty of power to go around
Actually power is not an unlimited resource. As a group we should discuss how we will use what is available to us, how we can make sure everyone plays, creates, brings their part to the beauty and flavor of our influence.

Advice to leaders who talk alot (me)
dont talk until 3 others have shared their input
then talk for no more than 2 minutes
then wait for 2 others to share
** i loved her content, understand her. what she said totally resonated with me. I'm buying her book.

(Len Sweet, i think, interjected during discussion time) The Jewish concept of holiness was seperation from impurity. jesus flipped that. He went to the leper and touched the unclean. As disciples of Christ we must touch the impure.
and in here in the dust and dirt, o here
the lilies of his love appear
excerpt from the Revival, Henry Vaughan

Alan Hirsch
We must not reFORM the church, we must reFOUND the church
Refound: recover the ethos, the utter centrality of the whole phenomenom of Jesus as the Founder of the church.
- we get our mission from our Lord and then out of that the church must express it in our culture
- we must plant the gospel and let the church grow up around it.
- we must reJesus the church
- Christiology (defined as knowing and being like Jesus) lies at the heart of the renewal of the local church
1. Jesus defines our understanding of God. God is Christlike
2. Jesus sets the agenda for and gives the example/model of discipleship
evangelicals camp out at the cross, the resurrection. healthy Christians ave to engage with the narratives of Jesus. The teachings of Jesus must be normative
3. Jesus lights the way to be the church.
Christianity minus Christ equals Religion
4. Jesus sets and defines our mission
he was a sending God and a darn good missionary, we must rediscover Jesus' style of holiness (reference earlier by Len)
5. Jesus sets the agenda and model for ministry.
Trust the Lord to change people. Our job as priests is to introduce people to Jesus.
** needed the reminder and challenge to know Christ's teachings more, to be more like him.

Len Sweet
God is up to something. Do we know Jesus well enough to recognize what he is doing?
The church must have an interface with the google world.
He mentioned a church consultant who asks churches this question. "What year is it here?"
The devil wants to do ministry in 2009 and no one is more EPIC than the enemy.
God is rebooting the operating system
** Len Sweet did a Sunset staff training years ago when I was cutting my teeth in church ministry. I like acronyms because they quantify thoughts. It was good to be reminded of these things... i love the discussion regarding what year is it here? Why do we gather, who and what is it for? I think this is a big tension in my church and others.

I found a pretty good explanation of Len's acronmyns online here (page 6)
E – Experiential. It is not just about listening and thinking,
but the idea of “let’s enter into worship as an experience.” An
increased emphasis on the senses, so emerging churches actually
seem kind of ancient. . . they are rediscovering liturgical
practices such as candles, incense and Communion.
P – Participatory. The idea that worship is not just something
you observe, like watching television. You really participate.
For example, an important part of worship might be a period
of about 20 minutes in which there are stations around the
room where people might go to write down a prayer, make
their financial offering, or have Communion.
I – Image-based. The idea here is not just words for the ears,
but an increased emphasis on things you can see. Because of
digital technology you have the capacity to project images,
show artwork, use film and video.
C – Communal. A strong emphasis on community. People are
saying, “We don’t just want to at tend a service and look at the
back of people’s heads.”

Incarnational: That means that Christianity does not go
through time like water in a straw. It passes through cultural
prisms and historical periods, which means that Christianity
is organic. And like with any living thing, in order
for things to stay the same, they have to change. There are
some who think that Christianity is meant to stand in and
for itself as a bounded discourse, impervious to cultural
influences. That’s one reason it took the Vatican 300 years
to come around to heliocentrism: the idea that the sun, not
the ear th, was at the center.
• Missional: Does the church face inward or outward? A
missional church faces outward toward the world, not like a
porcupine stands against its enemies, but like water fills
every container without losing its content. In fact, many in
the emerging church reject the dichotomy between the
church and the world. For too long, churches have faced inward,
offering religion as a benefits package — something
that “meets my needs” or offers good outcomes.
I tell churches to look at their mission statement. Many of
them are no more than self-statements, not mission statements.
This is how you can tell. Is your mission statement
based on how to get people to go into the world, or how to get
more people to come to church? The missional mantra that
people are saying today is this: The church is measured, not
by its seating capacity, but by its
sending capacity.
• Relational: The gospel is all
about the formation of community.
The individualistic “meet my
needs” orientation is seen as antagonistic
to the ministry of Jesus.
The African word ubuntu is often
used, which literally means “It
takes a “we” to make a “me.”
Emerging churches are discovering
the “we” part of “me.”

Jay McKenney, me, Tyler Braun, Barbara Feil (not pictured here Mike Giering)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

rowing together

This morning i arrived at work to one piece of mail in my mailbox. I didn't have to read it to guess what was coming...
I guessed anyway.
An editorial on style or volume in the church, likely not favorable.


The article is knowledgeably constructed and actually included a great line
musicians- every one of them, including the singers-- are accompanists to the congregation's praise. - John G Stackhouse Jr.
I liked that...
but this is not a post about style or volume in the church.

This IS a post about communication in the church.

Toward the bottom of the editorial was an ever so delightfully highlighted paragraph which was probably the favorite "jab" of the copier.

It got me to thinking...
Why does a person rip an article out of a magazine, highlight it and put it anonymously in the box of anyone they want to make a change?
Who does this?
Even asking that question got me annoyed because my mind wandered to who it might be and now they are guilty without the opportunity to have a dialogue, which takes me back to my point.
Is this really effective communication?

In relationship we develop understanding, sharpen one another, grow together and we can develop the kind of trust required to disagree and support another leaders ability and responsiblity to make and live with the consequences of their choices. This doesn't happen in anonymous highlighted copied notes.
So, let's talk... let's listen and discuss things, at the risk of disagreeing and with respect for one another's roles and responsibilities.
Let's row together, rather than anonymously poking holes in one anothers canoes or stealing oars in the dark of night (you can highlight that line if you like).