Squeaking in an update before April is over!
It’s been an eventful month for our budding community. One way to sum it up is April felt like the gardener had mistakenly stomped on our fragile little shoot that is our community.
As a community, we’ve been moving towards answering questions around, “Who are we to one another,” “what adventure is the Father inviting us into?” and “what’s next for us?”
In that spirit, one of the couples who has been walking with us since the beginning decided it was time to step out and make space for other things in their life. While we love them and bless them into their transition out of the community, it raised some serious questions for those of us who remained.
We’re down to four people on this leadership team… and we’re all related.
So we’ve been grappling with “does this still make sense to move forward,” “what does moving forward even look like anymore,” and “has the Father accomplished what he set out to by having us walk down this road.,” aka, is it time to close up shop?
We’ve had some time, and have started to form thoughts in response to those questions, but before I share those, I wanted to share a little of what this experience has done in me, personally.
When the couple made the decision to bow out, my first reaction was one of feeling profoundly alone.
Over the past two years I’ve felt such a clear articulation from the Father that I am to be a part of the renewal of the Church in the West. I feel compelled to help the Church find her way into a postmodern and post-Christian context. A guiding question in my heart is “What does it look like to follow Jesus in this changing cultural moment?”
These urges are in me – deep inside my heart. Deeper than business dreams, other adventures I want to go on, or things I want to build. They’re there at a foundational level.
So when close friends decide that vision isn’t compelling enough to journey with me, it makes me feel like no one else understands. I’ve gone through a decade of deconstructing church and American spirituality, and I feel hopeful for where I’ve landed.
But these beliefs I’ve reconstructed and the dreams I’ve found passion for puts me somewhere out in the fringes of American Christian thought and practice (I do think they’re safely within orthodox Christian thought). And it can get lonely out here in the boonies. There are others out there, but it’s not like I can get a coffee with Alan Hirsch once a week and find camaraderie.
I began to look around at friends that got normal seminary degrees and jobs at normal churches with some envy. Something about having a clearly defined role, a structure to easily fit into, and a model that people generally understand sounded very appealing.
People generally don’t “get” what we’re trying to do. They don’t understand the post-Christian/postmodern transition we’re in as a culture. They don’t understand the missional and relational emphasis that we’re trying to bring.
I think if we had set out to start a Sunday morning worship service, we would have had 30 friends join us in that work. Because it makes sense to them. But inviting people into a season of journeying together in friendship to discern a new way forward doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I suppose these are normal challenges for any kind of pioneering work. This is just the first time I’ve faced them with such strength.
Here’s what the struggle ultimately did in me: I am more convinced than ever that I cannot compromise the convictions the Father has put inside of me. I can’t settle. I can’t go back. I know the ring must be destroyed, and going back the Shire is not an option. I’ve walked into Diagon Alley and my eyes have been opened to a much larger world. I’ve taken the red pill and been pulled out of the Matrix. I’m still getting my bearings, but I like I what I see out here.
Even if this iteration or expression ends, I’ll continue to pursue the renewal of the Church in the West.
We met together last weekend to regroup. We’re not sure what’s next. But we’re committing to a week of morning and evening prayer together to discern the voice of the Father. We sense an invitation to continue walking down this path for another year, but we’ll take time to pray, listen, and discern whether that’s right, what mission we’ll define, what rhythms we’ll set.