Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dating the church

Just a quick thought

In my process of finding a church I have thrown out the term "church shopping" and replaced it with "dating the church." This came about as I was thinking about the heartache I am left with from my most recent past church. It didn't feel like I had merely lost a pair of my favorite pants, or even a sentimental object of my past. I lost a relationship with a community that I thought I was a part of. Actually, that I was a part of. Church, for me is much more about the relationships and sense of community I feel and build with people. Do I have an intimate relationship with the things that I shop for? No. And that's how I came to the idea of "dating the church." I'm looking for a community that I can commit to, and it can commit to me. This requires me to get to know the church and the community with in it. I get to learn what makes it tick, what it stands for, and even a bit about its weaknesses. The church, well the people in it, also get to know a bit about me.

As with dating people, it can be really difficult.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The orange light of death

To break up the seriousness and lack of silliness on this here blog, I have come to tell you that my car is sick! *sigh*

An orange light of death turned on as I exited Peet's coffee this morning. Yes, orange, the light was orange! How twisted is that? When I realized that the light didn't turn off I went for my car manual to try and figure out what this little picture was all about. Turns out it's MIL indicator... something to do with engine emissions or something. It went on to tell me that I should contact an authorized VW mechanic and if it was blinking that I should avoid fast acceleration and high grade hills. Did I mention I live in San Francisco. Yeah I'll work on avoiding hills and fast acceleration! Ummm, right... I guess I won't be heading up Lombard St. or merging on to the freeway in the near future.

Luckily I'm taking my car in for it's 40,000 tune up, so I just schedule it for a week sooner than I had planned. Hopefully the tune up will get the blasted light to turn off.

Waiting at a red light

Jonny Lang - Red Light

You sing a song
While sitting at a red light
You think of home
While sitting at a red light
Too slow to roll
Put your life on hold
An open path
With nowhere to go
You start to wonder
While sitting at a red light
You can run a red light
Give up at a red light
You break the mold
When running through the tolls
Speeding through your whole life
A chance to breathe
While sitting at a red light
You look around
Reflecting on your life
A chance to think
Am I drinking too much
Should I keep going
Lose the life that I love
A second glance
When coming to a red light

As I am a big fan of the "Just go" mentality and way of faith, I can't help but notice that God often has to put on the brakes when I try and speed ahead of His plan for me.

Did I mention I'm impatient? My best friend can attest to this. One of the biggest superficial challenges we come up against in our friendship is our differing views of time and/or time management. While I am most definitely a huge procrastinator and lover of the last minute, I get things done, for the most part on time. I hate being late, and try my hardest (with usual success) to honor time commitments. At the same time I don't like to schedule things too far in advance because I want to keep myself available for last minute changes... I'm full of contradictions, I know this. My friend on the other hand is quite the opposite, and it causes me more strife than it causes her. I'm honestly little bias but we love each other and we work around our time management views (most of the time). But back to the whole lack of patience thing...

Every city or town has that one intersection... you know, the one that always seems to turn red when you near it? And the traffic gods have decided that your car would be the unlucky one to sit all by it's lonesome and endure the endless minutes until you have paid penance for running the yellow the past 10 times you've hit that intersection or perhaps it's payment for not quite stopping at the last stop sign. It's inevitable that Murphy's Law and Karma have their role in the intersection, and your friends have even admitted to the strange coincidence of the light and their driving transgressions. Ok, so maybe you don't have one of those intersections, and maybe you're thinking I'm trying too hard on this illustration... but I promise you, if you're ever in Daly City, CA there's an intersection on John Daly Blvd. that I'm making these statements upon. Ok, I'll get on with it (as you can tell I'm having difficulty staying focused)!

Since I won't have a job when I get back to the Bay Area in August, I'm starting the preliminary browsing of job search engines (idealist, craigslist, and a few ministry focused engines). This process is both exciting and exhausting. Hours of reading job positions, organization's websites, reviews, requirements, doctrinal statements and the like. This process is causing quite a bit of mental anxiety. Questions come up, "Will I be able to find a job I love? Will I be qualified? Will I make enough money in this job, to live in my apartment? Will I have to move?" The list of questions continues. As anxious as I get, I keep testing the job outlook waters. Here is the problem... the jobs that I really want to look into cause the most anxiety! Not the good type of anxiety, but the type that causes me to doubt my abilities, my passions, and ultimately my confidence that God has it under control.

Then it hit me, this morning, maybe I need to have a bit of healing in my life before God can hand me the responsibility of doing what I love to do... cultivating relationships, encouraging others, coming alongside people and loving them the way I think Jesus would have wanted me to. I'm a little aggravated that God allows this anxiety to come over me when I think about these things, but I need to let my present relational wounds heal and past emotional scar tissue be broken down again. As with all things, I'm just ready to move on and God's telling me to slow down and wait for a bit. So now I'm stuck at this red light that has no one else around and the only thing keeping me there is sense that God is asking me. No one will catch me if I run through it, but I'll probably feel guilty about it later. So for now I will sit at my red light and consider it as some down time to regain my confidence in God and myself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

First thoughts on "the emerging church" (w/update)

As my search for a church community continues I can't help but consider the emergent/emerging church. The questions is though, what is the emerging church??

No really, what is the emergent/emerging church?

It feels so ambiguous and trendy. Some people love it, other's hate it, but honestly I haven't really been able to pin down a good definition, and no one I've found seems to be willing to define, what some have called a Christian "sub-culture." What I can say, is that I feel drawn to it.

What I can gather so far...

It's not a denomination, nor is it non-denominational. The emerging church exists within many denominations (including non-denom... let's be honest, it's a denomination... but that's a whole different topic). They are seeking genuine relationships with people and with Christ. They want to dig deeper, think critically and chew on the meat of the gospel by putting it into action. These are things I love, and am drawn to, but part of me has reservations. Here are some questions that come to mind...

Is the emergent church just going to be come a new denomination?

Is the emergent church more a way of life rather than an establishment?

What exactly is the goal of the emergent church?

I've started reading blogs and websites on this whole emergent culture, and started discussing it with friends and coworkers. I'm not sure where to go with this, but I'm intrigued.


The more I look into all of this emergent vs. emerging vs. missional vs. tradtional vs. fundimental vs. evangelical, the more I'm resistant to dealing with it all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ready, set, go! No really, GO!

"If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin."

- Ivan Turgenev, novelist, poet, playwright

I could probably write in metaphors for ages (as some of you know this first hand), or you know, I could just forget wandering aimlessly around the proverbial bush and get staight to the point. Like how I did that??

I find myself, and a lot of the people I know waiting for the right moment. Just waiting, thinking that it will come, that God will provide the exact moment that He wants us to get off of our butt and do something with our lives. Be it, making a career change, writing that paper for class that you were given an undefined extension on, quiting a bad and/or unhealthy habit, having a tough conversation with a friend or loved one, losing weight, the list could go on forever- I think we all have something to make a move on. Some of us are so concerned about waiting for the perfect moment that we forget to actually move. We live in hindsight, thinking, "Oh, maybe that moment, just there, that passed me, was the moment I was supposed to do something. Well, next time I guess."

I can't help but think we only get so many of those "next times" before we completely change the path of life that we're on. This is probably where that whole freewill issue comes into play, and the "plans that God has for us," which many Christians bring up in their conversations when we think about the choices we've made, and those we will have to make in the future.

See the thing is, trusting God or simply making tough decisions (about things we want to do, or about things we don't) has much more to do with faith. No matter what you believe in, or how you believe, the idea of faith is pretty universal. It's the hope that what ever you're doing, or who ever you believe in is true and right, and some how things will turn out ok. Sometimes making decisions doesn't mean waiting for the "perfect timing" ... that one moment where everything seems to line up. Maybe just maybe it's more about mustering up the faith, gumption, or grabbing onto that tiny thread of hope, and jumping. You may not be ready for it, the people around you may not be expecting it, but the changes that come with whatever you had to do or say, are probably worth the moment of fear that comes with doing it.

With that said, if for any reason, you are waiting for the right moment to do or say something... I challenge you to just Go.

(cross posted from facebook and other such social networking facets)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Changing it up - work, church, summer and beyond

crossposted from my facebook, so it's a little more filtered (so to speak) than this blog tends to be (different audience I suppose).

Hmmm... how do I start this? (I guess I just did...)

So yes, I'm going to be out of town for a couple of months. Why, you ask?

Well, I'm making a few changes in my life. I realized about a month or so ago that where I am is not where I want to be. While I've been where I am for a reason - work, church, and such - I've been struggling with the ever present issue of where does God want me to be? What does God want to do in my life?

Without getting into the nitty gritty of that struggle, I came to realize that while I have been doing what God wanted me to do in my current location and situations, He has been asking me to make a change. You see the thing is, I like the idea of security and stability... alas, not as much as I like the idea of being who I am and most of all what God has in store for me.

With that said, a friend of mine asked me, "What do YOU want to do?" A week later, and kind of out of the blue, and replied "Michigan." Two summers ago I worked at a camp with a team of amazing people. I don't know how to explain it, but it was the most "me" I'd felt in a long time. Long days, short nights, craziness and the sorts.

Thing is making a choice to go back to Michigan for the summer meant leaving my job. So, I'm leaving my job with The Salvation Army, to go back to camp for one more summer (well it's a Salvation Army camp, but different area... it's hard to explain). With this said, I don't know what happens after. I intend on coming back to San Francisco (I'm keeping my apartment), but I don't have a job... there goes that whole idea of security and stability, at least for now.

As far as church, I made the decision to leave my current church and look for a new one. It was a very difficult decision, but through it I am learning a lot about self worth, ministry, and grace. I'm thankful I don't really have to make a commitment until I get back to the city, so it's nice to take my time and enjoy other people's services and find a place where I fit well with the community and leadership. *On a side note to that, if anyone has any church ideas, please let me know.*

So the plan as it stands...
My last day at work is May 16th. May 17th I head out to Michigan by way of Interstate 80... with my mom. I'll be in Michigan by the 22nd and at camp on the 23rd. Camp officially starts (well orientation) on June 1st and closes August 2nd. I'm guessing I'll be back in San Francisco mid August, as I would like to take a little more time in driving back... check out some sights... enjoy the peace. After that... who knows.