May 5, 2008 by

Mile Marker Reflections


Categories: changing mindsets, church, Meanderings (look it up)

(So, yes, Glenn at re-dreaming the dream just happened to schedule this synchroblog on my birthday. This post is part of that synchroblog.)
Glenn asked for a basic assessment of the latest chapter in our stories, and it seems fitting to do so on a day that is a mile marker for me.
Here are the questions Glenn asks:
How are you doing?
My family and I, after a long season of trials and struggles, found ourselves in the hands of God, and He has given us a season of rest from our struggles. Last year was probably the happiest season we have had in a long time. But since the beginning of this year, a divine unrest has come on us, a deep stirring of the soul. It has been quite unsettling at times, but we feel very strongly that it is of the Lord. We don’t know yet all that it means, but it has brought a strong sense of anticipation that He is up to something good.
What are you doing?
We hold house church in our home, which we’ve been doing for about 8 years now. We also are working on developing a creative community of worshipers and holding monthly public worship events, and looking for ways for our community of faith to be more missional in our approach.
Part of this holy stirring has been a personal conviction that we need to be focusing on our God-given passions. This has prompted my wife, The Wild One, to begin a course in professional photography. It has also prompted me to jump-start the musical aspects of my life, so I am learning guitar to sharpen my writing skills, promoting my music a bit more on the Internet through MySpace, and will hopefully be going into the studio soon to record some new demos.
What are you learning?
I am learning a whole new way to look at ministry, church, and the kingdom of God. (Pretty cool, huh?) In the past year I have read more books than I have in the past 10 years. I am also learning more intangible things, like the value of living in the moment, the value of relationships, as opposed to the driving goal of being a “ministry success.” In the past few years, terms like “church”, “ministry”, and “success” have all been completely stripped back and redefined for me.
What are you dreaming about?
I still have some deep desires to do contribute something meaningful in the field of music and worship. I have a heart for worship, and have experienced some amazing things in the corporate church worship setting, but lately I have grown–I hate to say it–bored. I don’t want my music to be defined as just providing a musical backdrop for existing “worship addicts.” I get a real sense of satisfaction in seeing the light come on for someone when God encounters them in a life-changing way. I long to see more believers come into the heart of worship, but I also have a heart to bring not-yet-Christians into a place of encountering God. I know this desire is going to fuel much of the endeavors we undertake in the future.
I am also dreaming about missional community–about seeing a group of people deeply committed to one another, yet engaged together in bringing the love of Christ to people who haven’t yet experienced it. I envision this happening without the religious trappings so common to ministries today; I want it to be such that people do not readily recognize it as a spiritual endeavor, yet infused with the truth and love of Jesus. In other words, I want people to see Jesus not by how we structure it, but by our deeds and the fruit of our lives. For me, it looks like some sort of creative community, something that attracts artists and musicians and enriches their lives as they share common interests.
When I crossed the threshold of age 40, like many my age, I began to take a serious inventory of my life. Today I am 41. So I recognize some of this stirring might have something to do with what some call mid-life crisis–although I think I’m steering this feeling toward God and not away from Him (I’m not buying a motorcycle or trading in my wife–I like the wife I have, thankyouverymuch). What I do feel is a deep desire to make a difference, and to fully redeem the time. I want to shed things that aren’t that important and focus on things that are.
A lot of my journey out of institutional Christianity has been about wanting to shed things that I think are losing their effectiveness–things that don’t work anymore–and find more creative, more effective methods. I don’t have time to waste on building another typical churchy construct, something that will compete with other churches for membership, when all I’d have to show for it is a reputation for having built something “successful” in the eyes of the church. I’ve grown up in that setting, and I know I could either create that kind of thing, or be part of something like it–if I’d just “play ball.” But there has to be more to it than that, and I want to find it–I want to find what that looks like for us. And that is leading us down less-traveled roads.
So that’s where I’m at. πŸ™‚ Thanks, Glenn, for asking.
Alan Knox: You Are Here
Barb: One Year Check Up
Erin Word: My Turn
Glenn Hager: Feeling Free
HW: May Synchroblog
Jeromy Johnson: Our Story- Chapter 10
Kathy Escobar: It Stinks Down Here, But I Really Love The Smell
Lyn Hallewell: Your Turn
Mike Victorino: Lost Or Found (Depends On Your View)
Sarah: Glenn’s May Synchroblg
Tera Rose: May Synchroblog
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Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

6 Responses to Mile Marker Reflections

  1. Sarah

    It’s nice to learn more about you and your family’s journey. That’s cool that you guys are developing your creative talents (in photography and guitar). Sounds like fun!

  2. kathyescobar

    jeff, thanks so much for sharing. we resonate on a lot of issues related to church, etc. and i appreciate your voice. i think it’s really cool, too, that you and your wife are beginning to pursue some of your creative passions. that always opens up such cool things that were always in there but probably all locked up!

    i really liked what you said “I am also learning more intangible things, like the value of living in the moment, the value of relationships, as opposed to the driving goal of being a “ministry success.” In the past few years, terms like “church”, “ministry”, and “success” have all been completely stripped back and redefined for me.”

    redefining is so hard when so many of these terms have been hardwired into us, but i believe it is so fun to see what can happen when those definitions completely shift!

  3. Mike

    I love what you said about seeing the light go off in someone’s eyes. It’s really a cool feeling to know that they’re being reached and we get to witness it.


  4. Heidi W

    I love your blog. Thanks for yet another very though-provoking and insightful post. And it is cool to get to know you a bit more. πŸ™‚ I cannot wait to hear more about what God is doing as things unfold. (I love your wife’s blog!)


  5. Jeff McQ

    Thanks to all who have commented so far (including Glenn, who left a comment earlier that got deleted through no fault of his own). πŸ™‚

    Sarah, Mike, and Heidi,
    I appreciate the encouragement from each one of you, and enjoyed your blogs today, too.

    I can see from the little I know of your journey how we resonate on these issues, and it seems we have some similarities in what we are doing. I will be looking forward to hearing more about what ministry is looking like for you, and I, too, am excited to know where our “shifting definitions” will lead us.

    You took your cue from me?? Oh shoot. πŸ™‚

    I might have confused the issue a bit because an earlier version of my post actually began with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the questions, before answering them for real. I deleted that portion this afternoon because after looking at some of the other posts, I felt that maybe those earlier remarks might be interpreted as insensitive, which wasn’t my intent. If that’s what you were taking your cue from, I sincerely apologize.

    I don’t know if there’s a “right” way to do this. The idea was to write a post based on the questions Glenn asked, either answering interview-style, like I did, or incorporating it into a more fluid format (one even wrote a poem). I know many participants were relating it to their particular out-of-the-box journeys.

    I noticed that Glenn didn’t include a link to your post in the list of bloggers. If you want to be on that list for future synchroblogs, you’ll want to email him a link to your post when you post it. It’s also a good idea to copy that link list to your own post to make it easy for people to find the other bloggers. Hope all that helps. πŸ™‚

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