Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"the words of your heart..."

We had this big Brian Mclaren meeting which you can read about in the early posts of this blog. When I got up to talk for a few minutes about our hopes for this new faith gathering, I blurted out something which I had thought about a number of times, but had never planned on saying in public quite so straighforwardly.

"I'm starting this church because I'm lonely and I don't have enough love in my life"

Everyone including myself was kind of stunned by those words.

But it turned out to be a really wonderful thing that made a lot of people listen, and feel something real was happening. My team remembers it like a moment frozen in history.

My motivation remains the same.

My "summer absent" community is now reconverging on NYC, and all I am looking forward to doing is to spending time with them, loving and being loved. We made a good start in the spring, but we have so far to go in discovering one another.

Bon Voyage, social isolation! And good riddance, don't let the door slam your a** on the way out!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says

"Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties -- once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits -- are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone."

Wow, a friend brought this Washington Post article from June 23rd to my attention. This is a big part of what motivates me to build a community of people - to bring people together in deeply bonded relationships.

I'm constantly using the word, "fragmented" to describe our social reality, and this study proves what we already observe on our own.

This is such a time for the church to reform aspects of itself that lead away from community forming, and to do the opposite. For example, a few leaders holding all the spiritual responsibility and running programs just kills the opportunity for gifted folks to use their spiritual gifts to serve and bless others and build relationships.

Sitting next to someone mutually experiencing a performance or program is not the same as engaging with the person side by side in a project together that gets you both involved serving others and allows you to build the bonds of working side by side. But we just deny that over and over again when we invite people to attend a service, and they sit there and watch it, and go home just as fragmented as they arrived.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Blessed Relief

Thanks to all who have prayed for me during this "brutal" time as in the post below. I am glad to announce that the Lord has brought me out of that and shown me that I was going through a 40 day time in the desert - from late June through all of July.

In the midst of it, I had a few oasis of respite, and I was about to write a new post a number of times, but then I was right back into the desert before I could get to the post. Then I was glad I hadn't posted because it would have been...I'm back...now I'm not...wait, I'm better...crap, I still am going through this....

But finally after some good time out of it, the Lord showed me that it was over. I look forward to some more posts on what I learned, but I thought I would get this up here for now.

Thanks for your many prayers and encouragements.

As I told some of my people now and previously - the blessing of a pastor that walks beside you as a fellow journeyer is that he is real, and your friend, and treats you with respect like an equal, and really teaches you the way to walk with Christ. The way through suffering to blessing...but the downside is that you don't get the "role model" to give you a false sense of hope that someday you also could live in a trouble free world and be a super Christian with no problems or struggles and only enjoy increasing prosperity of heart and pocketbook.

The first is real and really equips you for life, the second only sets you up for disappointment and creates community where upward mobility in leadership is sought after for the social benefits and perceived spiritual benefits. And when it is discovered that neither exist, fakeness is created so that all who have become leaders can at least pretend that they got all that they wanted so those below will still look up to them at least and they will have that benefit. The fakeness is perpetuated from one disillusioned generation to the next, until reform comes.

The main thing God has been doing in my heart during this time is centering me. Helping me to become truly and fully just me before him. When I am simply myself, it helps me to seek simply him, and to have a simple faith in the simple him. Fortunately the simple Him is the huge loving God of the universe that he is, who wants to lavish love on all who come to him and to make them right and through them to make the world right.

Awesome to walk through pain and suffering and find God.