SpiritFarmer


April 28, 2003, 9:34 am
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O.k., so I haven’t been posting much lately. Life’s been super hectic and I haven’t found the time. I kinda doubt that will change over the next few days, but after that I may turn into a blogging maniac. I’ve got three more days left at the church. Yesterday was the big farewell thang. It was mostly uncomfortable in the sense that I don’t really like lots and lots of attention drawn my way, but people were very kind and gracious to Michelle and I. The leadership of the church did a little commissioning prayer deal for us. Big Baptist potluck last night. I did one last teaching, which was fun. All in all, I’d say it was a really good day – pretty well balanced, and encouraging. This seems to have turned out just like we hoped it would – the church is sending us to go where God has led us, and they’ve blessed us on the way out.

Last week was pretty trippy in several ways. It’s really too bad that I didn’t have time to blog. I’ll try to catch up later.



April 24, 2003, 7:58 pm
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Mark Palmer has posted the outcome of his wife, Jennifer’s cancer surgery earlier today. Devastating news, and yet there is a tangible sense of God’s grace at work in this family. Please pray, pray, pray for them.



April 23, 2003, 7:45 am
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Praying like crazy for a guy I’ve never met, and his wife who is having cancer surgery tomorrow.



April 23, 2003, 7:27 am
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A few more thoughts on the whole mission statement thing . . .

One of my struggles to this point in developing a concise statement of purpose/vision/mission is in developing what my understanding of success looks like. Is it more important that I be a part of developing a community characterized by deep relationships of impact or is it more important to scatter the seeds of the kingdom life as widely as possible (which looks a heckuva lot like pursuing a numbers oriented crowd)? Maybe it’s somewhere in between the two, and it’s not necessarily the case that the two are mutually exclusive.

If “deep relationships of impact” are the measure of success, I know that it will be deeply satisfying and stimulating to my own growth constantly. It will mean that I’m honest enough with myself and others to mean that no single person will be important than any other person in this effort – nobody will be put on a pedestal of superiority because of what they know or how dynamic their personality is or how powerful their spiritual gifts are. It will mean pleasuring myself completely in the fact that God has allowed me to help another brother or sister get a little bit closer to him, and it will mean that I’ll take as much pleasure in having felt the impact of others in my life in the same way. The down side to this mentality as a measure of success is that it’s maddeningly difficult to know if you’ve ever reached it. How deep is deep enough when it comes to relationships of impact? Seems like there’s always gonna be something missing . . . although that’s also part of the pleasure – the thing that continues to drive the bus.

If scattering the kingdom seeds as widely as possible is the measure of success, I know that it will be satisfying on a couple of fronts. First, it’ll be much easier for me to measure the effectiveness of the efforts of the community, because we’ll have access to the hard data that numbers provide. Second, it’ll help us to maintain the missional element of announcing the reality of God’s kingdom as a lifestyle. I find myself feeling immediately defensive after writing that stuff, though, so please indulge me enough to allow me to explain it a little. No part of me wants to plant a megachurch. When I say that effectiveness is measurable by the data of numbers, I don’t necessarily mean numbers of people in a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly worship experience, numbers of baptisms in a given period of time, numbers of dollars given, or any combination of the those. In Brian McLaren’s terms, it may be better to count conversations than conversions. How many people have I shared God’s love with, given a glimpse of the kingdom life to, invited to join me in following Jesus? And if the numbers of people in worship experiences, baptisms, dollars, or any combination of the three do end up growing beyond our wildest dreams (whatever those are), I’d rather send groups away to plant new churches than have a church that numbers in the thousands or even hundreds. The obvious downside of measuring success by the numbers is that numbers can verrrrrry easily become a false god. I don’t ever want to “sell out” in order to have a big crowd, and I don’t want to give people some false and shallow sense of connectedness simply because they show up for a worship experience once a week/month. There are other pitfalls in playing the numbers game, but I think the house/organic/simple church folks have done a much better job explaining them than I could here.

O.k., that was more than I intended to write this morning. I’ll stop now.

Not that it matters . . . but in the CD player right now: Golden State by Bush



April 20, 2003, 5:36 am
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When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him. Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, “Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?”

Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back–it was a huge stone–and walked right in. They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.

He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now–on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”

Mark 16, The Message



April 18, 2003, 1:20 pm
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A quick word about Good Friday. I’m glad that Easter and Passover coincide this year. It emphasizes to me that the exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity foreshadowed my own exodus from the bondage of sin into the ultimate freedom of life eternal. Both involve death, both involve a whole new reality of life.



April 18, 2003, 12:59 pm
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O.k., I’ve read a some of the hot leadership/management books, been to the seminars, and followed the programs. In my rethinking church, etc., I’ve come to see how much of the current church culture has been influenced by non-biblical business forms (not necessarily anti-biblical, but certainly non-biblical). In some cases, it’s fairly benign, in others it’s dangerous. I’m finding, though, that I am tempted to go back and pick up one of those management concepts that has been adopted widely in the modern church . . . the mission statement.

I’ve resisted developing one for my new church start thus far because I fear that if I boil down my whole philosophy of ministry into one tidy sentence I’ll somehow sterilize it, limit it, and neuter it. I mean, how could I possibly capture everything I’ve been through over the past couple of years in just a few words? Obviously I can’t, and I do know that this isn’t the point of having a mission statement. I’m just concerned about emphasizing one aspect of ministry vision to the neglect of other, possibly superior aspects – some of which I have yet to fully discover.

And yet, I keep finding myself in need of a mission statement, or at least something like it. I think this because every time I talk to someone about the transition into starting a new community of faith I say something different, and I usually do so pretty poorly. I’m not really all that eloquent in normal conversation, but when I start talking about the “new” thing, I seriously lack the ability to link a noun and a verb. I keep wishing I had a sentence or two to fall back on, just to make those conversations go a little smoother. The lack of having this kind of statement causes me to think, “Gee whiz dude, if you can’t explain what the heck you’re doing with your life, maybe you don’t know what the heck you’re doing with your life.”

Part of me likes that I can’t fully wrap my brain around this – it forces me to trust God, and be carried along by the Holy Spirit. Part of

thinks that I’ll be irresponsible to just go out there and not have a clear cut, crystal clear vision in mind. Mostly, I’m just a head case anyway.