this past monday night at loveshack (our owner's/member's gathering) i lost my composure.
i mean it, i lost my cool. the past 13 years of ministry just kind-of erupted and my failures and my hopes just got tossed into the mix for all to see.
it was quite revelatory for me, actually...because i didn't really know how close to the surface those emotions were (or, conversely, how deeply frustrated i was feeling). knowing that i'm carrying that around all of the time is disturbing, not least because i wonder if the way i'm living is truly addressing the wells of passion inside me.
at the core of my sensation is the bother that church - any church - makes an insufficient difference in the lives of people. we don't see enough transformation. we don't experience enough proximity to the spirit. we don't align ourselves with scripture soon enough, or thoroughly enough, to give us supreme confidence that we will hear the words "well done, g+fs"
what's more, i carry with me the memories of my long friends who've dismissed god and/or been burned by god's people...such that pursuing and engaging god seems beyond all hope for them.
and a host of loved ones whose names are even less known (though also less generic...hence my reason for not listing them) cycle through my consciousness like a playlist of concern.
i really want my friends to experience the life of god,
the life of the ages,
eternal life, begun in this one
that's not to say that they are bad or evil or degenerate, just that wholeness is obfuscated by self-priority, dry religion, and a pervading absence (both mine and god's).
i am left with a cliche restlessness that urges me to pray
and sometimes forces me to cry.
as i spoke about the need for the church in the west to abandon "churchiness" and fatigued liturgical norms in favor of indigenous, innovative, new testament missional practices
my post-ecclesial-stress syndrome took over and i fell apart
i don't want to play at church
never have wanted to, but often have done so anyway
i came to westwinds to never have to do that
but have failed in championing the missional drive behind why we do what we do
i have failed to identify the reasons why some things are time-wasters and others are the foolish pursuits of cautious american christianity
in clear enough terms for our people
so, i come away from that meeting with the following resolve
1. i'm completely finished fooling around with church-y people. i've only got so much energy, and i don't want to give it to them.
2. i need to do a better, more frequent job of basic vision casting. the church in the west must change. westwinds, for the most part, is way ahead of this change; however, when i neglect to use my position to remind our people why that change is necessary and/or to call out the rest of the western church to follow suit (in their own innovative, indigenous way) things get bumpy. people forget, miss the comfort of the former ways, and complain. it's my job to tell them why we're doing this. it's my fault when they forget.
3. i can't be as cautious, or as nice, anymore. i need to give myself permission to reject some things, and some people's ideas and concerns, completely (when they do not align with my specific mission and calling). this is hard, because i currently listen to everyone who speaks about everything with (what i've previously erroneously regarded as) christ-like patience. i realize now that my willingness to listen is often simply a control mechanism - where i pretend to appreciate what is being said and respond placatingly because i am afraid that my fury will get the best of me and i will say something hurtful. i don't want to give myself permission to be hurtful; but, i think the spirit is driving to learn how to be angry well...to express my anger without sinning...and i've never been willing to do that before.
i find myself in a new territory of faith
i'm embarrassed about my lack of self-control at loveshack, but grateful that with that humiliation comes a release.
god is dealing with me about some pretty foundational issues, and some of what i'm hearing surprises me.
my prayer then,
is for discernment
for the courage to follow
and for a posture of increased orientation and engagement with the spirit.