The last twelve months have been the
toughest ‘ministry months’ since I started fourteen years ago. It was difficult due to internal and
external circumstances. I will
focus on the externals in this post.
Outwardly our community went through some
very painful episodes. Most
noteworthy was the ravaging effects of a divorce and the church discipline we had to exercise.
We also realized that we were being called
to readjust our collective rhythms in following Jesus as the Way. This included placing more
responsibility on the members of our community. We are battling two ‘gospel
limiting’ reductions in our community – church on a Sunday, and me.
Together we dream of a community that is
based on more than just people coming together on a Sunday to listen to someone
teaching. This idea is not new to
us – we stated this intention six years ago when we started Claypot.
Yet, as Dallas Willard teaches, we need
Vision, Intention and Means. If
the vision and intention are not backed up with means, then it stays in the
sphere of visions and intentions.
We have realized that, ironically, we tried
to change people’s minds from seeing church as mainly a Sunday event and
listening to someone preach by preaching on them on a Sunday! This cerebral
attempt has not rewired our bodies in a different rhythm.
So in the last few months we have lived
into a different means (medium).
Sunday services have been exchanged for a time of practicing Sabbath and
the community now gathers formally on Wednesday or Thursday evenings for mutual
encouragement and feedback (so I’m not just giving a sermon anymore).
A huge part of these evenings have been a
reflection on how people have interacted with our Trinitarian God and their neighbours
throughout the week and how they have responded.
As a part of our new rhythm the community
commits to some homework (we call it soul-work, based on the brilliant book
“Our good and beautiful God”).
These means of grace are meant to help the community into a mode of life
where, like the crowd listening to the Samaritan woman in John 4, we say “It is no longer because of what you said that we
believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the
Savior of the world.”
God has been faithful in providing us with a very special group of
friends to help us through this year and we are excited to see what is in stall for 2010