Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Kids, Pictures and Clips

Here are some images and a short movie clip of our children during Sunday's Mother's Day worship service. Enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

On the Road

I'm back in town now, after a brief road trip. I drove out to my parents' house in California. They were off to the desert in their Winnebago so I had the house to myself to read, pray, and write. So technically this was "study leave" and not a vacation (although, after being on the job for nine months, the time away was certainly refreshing).

I took this time in an attempt to think through our next steps as a congregation. Our life together as Christ's body is very much a journey: geographically, we remain connected to this place, but Christ continually calls us to new places both personally and as a congregation. It was, in a manner of speaking, a road trip to help us plan a road trip.

But one of the greatest temptations a pastor faces is to plan this trip alone. The way the thinking goes, "I am the pastor. I've read all the right books. I know what constitutes a vital church. I know how to listen for God's voice. Of course I know where the church ought to go." And of course, this turns out to be one of the most destructive things a pastor can do. It's destructive for a number of reasons, but the central sin is that it assumes an authority that actually belongs to Christ. So to mix the metaphor slightly, I am simply the conductor on this road trip of Christ's church. We each participate in discerning where God is leading us and how we ought to get there; my role in this is to facilitate this process and then holler, "All aboard!"

So this trip was not about me deciding how our church can grow or better meet the needs of this community; I don't know how we are going to do things like that and frankly I think it's too soon for me to start sharing those thoughts anyway. No, this trip was about working on a process that helps us think through those issues in an ongoing way. This journey was about me remembering that our life together is also a journey; a journey that is more productive and enjoyable if we take stock of where we're supposed to be going from time to time.

You will hear more about how that process is taking shape in the coming months, but I can tell you about one central element: this process is mostly about prayer. Prayer is how we intentionally seek God's vision for the ministry we've been called to embody. Prayer is how we plan for this journey and prayer is how we travel it faithfully. So please pray. Pray for me and pray for those who will lead us in this process. Pray for us as a congregation that we might honestly work through the anxieties that new journeys sometimes bring. And let us pray for the Spirit's clear leading to show us all the wonderful things ahead of us as we seek to follow Christ our Savior.

By the way, even though I'm back in town, you won't see me in worship on Sunday. No, I'm not ditching church because I have the day off. No, I'm not just lying low so that the guest preacher doesn't feel nervous (not that she would or should). And no, I don't need a break from you.

The reason you won't see me on Sunday is that I'll be spying: on Sundays when I don't have any responsibilities, I like to attend another worship service incognito. I highly recommend it. It gives us an opportunity to take notes on what other churches are doing (well or poorly) which helps us get a perspective on what we are doing at Calvary. In addition, I like to play "Secret Shopper" during their fellowship time. That's where I sit alone with a cup of coffee and see if anyone comes over to talk to me; the results are then passed along to the pastor. So if you are going to miss a Sunday, at least bring back notes.