Ten Days left.
Thursday, June 4
I didn’t meet with Robey and Chappotin for our formation group today. We knew that the arrival of summer would mean sporadic meetings - particularly since Robey is a youth minister.
So Chappotin and I played racquetball early and then I had all day to read, study and prepare for our house church gathering tonight.
Tonight we discussed the final episode of the Foundations series - Culmination - unfortunately it was just the Hunters, Tooles and I. I wasn’t overly surprised, nor was I that bothered by it. With this being the last week of school most families have been running around like crazy and I suspected that most were not likely to join us.
I took the opportunity to do some leadership development, only I didn’t tell anyone that’s what I was doing. The five of us sat around the kitchen table and began telling stories from our childhood - it was mostly impromptu, but I knew that if I told a story, this group would run with it. Sure enough we were soon discussing different trials and the ways we wished things had turned out differently.
I let this go on for quite some time and then I asked why these stories are so compelling. The reality is that we tell these stories because we know that 1) they represent a way of life that is all too common and 2) we know that they are not the way things were intended. We tell these stories so that we can hope they’ll eventually be set right. We tell these stories because we long for the day when they will no longer be reality.
I talked to our group about the power of storytelling and the need for confession/testimony. Stories resonate. Narratives draw us in to truth. People need to know that what they experience connects with others and can be set within a larger story. Our individual stories often seem to be nonsensical and it is fruitless to even attempt to make them appear logical. And yet, when set in the context of the larger Story, things begin falling in place.
Often this is what a great leader does - listens to the stories of others and comes alongside them as they seek to discern how their story fits into The Story.
The episode of Culmination is about our anticipation of God setting things right. The intended harmony in creation that was seemingly destroyed in the crisis has been lingering for entirely too long. We know that all creation - everything - is groaning in anticipation of that day when that which is broken (which is pretty much everything) gets mended.
Until the day that things ARE set right people will likely dispute just how they anticipate it coming about. This realization set the stage for the next issue for discussion with our two leading couples.
Sorting through to a final draft of the “end times” is not the point and there is room for people to hold differing opinions. The issue for the leader, we discussed tonight, is not necessarily to get everyone to espouse a certain picture of how the Culmination will play out, save for one major detail. If our eschatology is not one of hope in the reconciling work of God then the rest of our theology begins to fall flat.
When helping people think about our future we need to remember that we are putting all our eggs in one basket - that God really does care about his creation and is willing to see this whole ordeal through to the end.
We spent some time discussing what needs to happen during June in order to help solidify commitments from our other friends in Shenendoah. We talked a little about the Tangible Kingdom material and what Robin and Ronnie will need to be ready to lead this house church.
Its a formality really. I’m leading the discussions right now, but the Hunters have already emerged as leaders of God’s people in the midst of their community.
Robin has been involved in starting a homework club in her living room and a Neighborhood Watch to address the growing problem with vandalism and other crimes. Showing a true love for people over mere protection of assets, she has also talked about getting together some kind of "safe house" program for teens to have constructive and positive place to hang out - boredom inspires as many crimes as malevolence.
Robin and our friend, Jeanie have gotten community cookouts scheduled for June 27 and July 25. These get-togethers (based loosely on the Wednesday front yard barbecues at Chris and Heidi's) are a way to get those who live on Remington Circle involved and invested in each other's lives. The Christ Journey worship band has been invited to provide live music - I hope that my weekend schedule during class in June will allow me enough time to attend and play.
Robin also told me that she and a couple other folks involved in the neighborhood watch have decided to start a crisis ministry - encouragement and assistance for single moms in difficult situations, people in the middle of divorces or loss of loved ones, etc. When she was talking about this my mind started racing and I didn’t have time to properly dwell on it, but now at midnight, I can’t stop thinking about it.
We haven’t had more than 9 people at any one time in our Thursday night gatherings; outside of the Hunters, Tooles, Jeanie and I, no one has made it to consecutive meetings. And yet, this gathering of God’s people is already turning the Shenendoah community upside down. They are concerned about teenagers having a safe place to hang out; students have been helped with their homework, mothers are going to have help with their lives, mourners will have friends around them, neighbors will share meals, one family will watch out for the well-being of another...in short, the Kingdom of God is being experienced.
This is beyond me. I am brought low in humility by the greatness of a God who works through the weakness of his people. And I have been blessed to watch true church planters at work.
I love my life.