So for those of you who have been tracking along on my journey…first of all, my apologies. Thirteen-days-no-blogging-here has to be a personal record for me.
Shortly after moving to Denver a year ago (!), I mentioned here that I was helping some friends with worship at a church plant they were/are doing–an…um…institutional church. I’ve talked on occasion about the irony and tension associated with that relationship, the various discussions we’ve had from differing points of view. After a year there, I’m still scratching my head a little, because I’m still a little baffled as to how I got the job in the first place. These guys know about my deconstruction and my feelings about institutional Christianity, and furthermore, they read this blog. If I had been them, I probably wouldn’t have asked me, because I would have assumed I would be trouble. 🙂 But for some reason, they did ask…and I’d have to say it’s been a healthy exchange all around.
I’ve heard from a couple of different places that healing comes in relationships. (So does brokenness–but that’s a different tale.) The point is, it seems that–at least in my life–when a relationship brings brokenness and wounding to my life, part of the way God heals that wound is to bring along a similar relationship that serves as an antithesis to the brokenness–a relationship that does what the first relationship should have done, but failed to do. This is why we cannot cut ourselves off from humanity when we are hurt–wounding and healing come through the same channels. I’ve seen this happen several times in my own journey, particularly with regard to the church. I’ve not changed my views about institutional Christianity during this season, but this relationship has gone a long way toward healing many of the personal wounds I sustained during my deconstruction. The almost baffling acceptance these pastor-friends have shown me, knowing what I stood for, has flown in the face of the suspicion, subversion, sabotage and sometimes outright hostility I encountered from other pastors in previous seasons. I know it hasn’t been easy for them, having me along for the ride; but they made a choice to value the relationship and friendship over their views of ministry, church and vision. They have valued my opinions even when they didn’t share them, and they have listened when I spoke–and I said some things that would have made most pastors get up from the table and walk away. The fact that these guys stayed at the table meant more to me than probably anything.
All that said…our agreement was that I would stay on through the end of 2010, and now that the end of the year is in view, I’ve told them I feel we shouldn’t extend it. There is consensus among us about this. The congregation is growing, and it’s really time that they have a worship leader in place who truly feels called to adopt and to own the particular vision of that group–and while I’ve been glad to help for a season, I know God ultimately has a different mission for me and my family. For me to stay on would be to stand in the way of someone else who perhaps really ought to be in that spot. Not only that, but it’s apparent that having found our feet somewhat, it’s now time to start pursuing in earnest the things God has put on our own hearts with regard to mission–and for me, that requires letting go of some things in order to embrace some new things.
Again, even in this transition, I’m finding healing in the process. The last time I left a church position, I gave six months’ notice in good faith, and there was so much upheaval over it that we were gone within six weeks–and that was five weeks too long. This time, there is an incredible amount of peace and trust within the transition–no suspicion, no fear, no clandestine meetings, no politics, no hurt feelings, and no pressure to get out. It’s everything the last exchange should have been–and so it is serving to heal some wounds.
So what’s the next step? Last week, The Wild One and I discussed the possibility of launching a Bible study or discussion group in early 2011, geared toward the artistic/creative person. It feels right, and it feels like the right time. We’ll be able to take the next few months to seek wisdom from God about what that ought to look like. It’s an exciting prospect. I’ll keep you posted.