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Showing posts from May, 2020

Survey Says...

A couple of weeks ago, I created a brief survey to provide an opportunity for those who had participated in our Listen and Learn sessions to reflect on the experience and share their overall thoughts about the process our church was walking through. I also created a separate survey for members of the congregation who had not participated, but who might still want to share some reflections with the church’s leadership. We received around one hundred responses, with almost everyone adding in their own comments, which gave us a very good sense of what the temperature was like across the board. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called  The View From Here . Please follow  this link  and start reading at the oldest post,  Fear and Trembling .) When reading through the comments for a second time, I categorized them and found that exactly half of them expressed either a neutral opinion about the issue or did not express any opinion but focused on the value of the process we we

Conferences and Conversations

April 20, 2018. I’m not actually much of a conference-goer, but based on my calendar this spring, it would be hard to convince anyone that was true. Somehow, I've got a string of three conferences lined up in the span of thirty days, which started last week when I hopped in a car with three pastor friends of mine and drove down to Dillsburg, Pennsylvania for the Ecclesia National Gathering. Last year, the four of us took in the Missio Alliance conference in Alexandria, Virginia and, after making it home with our friendships still intact, we agreed that we should try and make a road trip like this an annual thing. So I put my email auto-responder on and looked forward to completely disconnecting from my pastoral responsibilities for the better part of a week, anticipating that a good stretch of time spent with friends would be good for my soul. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called  The View From Here . Please follow  this link  and start reading at the oldest post,

Blueberry Pie

Earlier this week, I met with a group of five concerned members of our church around a dining room table in one of their homes. There was a homemade blueberry pie on display, patiently waiting to be served. The five of them have been in a small group together for some time now, and a couple of weeks ago, they sent me an excerpt from a book by Sam Allberry called, Is God Anti-Gay? The author argues that, while some issues in the church may be considered ‘disputable,’ homosexual practice is not one of them: “Along with all who are unrighteous, such people are heading for destruction. Their only hope is the gospel, the outworking of which will include a new identity and repenting of their former lifestyle. To deny this truth has huge consequences. A church leader who teaches that even certain kinds of homosexual activity are OK is actually sending people to destruction. It is not the same order of disagreement as Christians have over, say, baptism, or the practice of certain spiritual

Not Done Changing

It’s March 22, 2018. Two days ago, we had our final Listen and Learn session and, by all indications, it went really well. Some of our Staff team gathered in the parking lot to debrief before heading home and we were all feeling pretty good. We made some adjustments based on our evaluation of the previous week’s event and they seemed to work. People were engaging the topic well, there was a good balance of opinions being shared around the tables, and we noticed more of an openness to sharing opinions across the spectrum. But yesterday was difficult. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called  The View From Here . Please follow  this link  and start reading at the oldest post,  Fear and Trembling .) The day began with an early morning small group I’m a part of with three friends from our church. We meet once every two or three weeks to check in on how we’re doing and to discuss something we’ve been reading or listening to in the time since we’ve met. It was just three o

Listen and Learn (Session Two)

We’ve just wrapped up the first of our Session Two conversations. Tonight, I’m the one who came home with my head hanging and with some growing doubts about our ability to hold things together as a congregation. “We’ll probably lose a hundred people, you know.” I’ve done everything I can to avoid this kind of negative forecasting, and I’m generally one of the more optimistic people in the room, so this is quite a shift for me. It’s temporary, I’m sure, which is why I sat down to do some writing tonight—to get it out of my system so I’ll be able to fall asleep. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called  The View From Here . Please follow  this link  and start reading at the oldest post,  Fear and Trembling .) A hundred people is a pretty big number to wrap my head around. We’re not such a big church that it would take me all that long to figure out who had left; I’d know right away. And the sad truth is that I already have a growing list of likely candidates, primarily

Listen and Learn (Session One)

It’s March 7, 2018. Over the past week, we’ve held two evening conversations where we invited our congregation to get together to start talking through issues around same-sex attraction and Christian faith. The sessions were identical in order to allow for flexibility in attendance, and at the end of the day we had more than 100 people take part, which I thought was a healthy representation in our community of 300 plus adults. (Note: This post is part of an ongoing series called  The View From Here . Please follow  this link  and start reading at the oldest post,  Fear and Trembling .) In order to increase the number of people who would be around each table, we actually set up our round tables in pairs, which made for a slightly awkward shape, but it also opened the door for more people to be part of each conversation. Our thinking was that if only eight people sat around a table, we would be increasing the chances of having only one or two voices from a given perspective, but if w

The 24-Hour Rule

For the past ten years, I have coached minor baseball in our city. In my first year of coaching a competitive travel team, just a month into the season, one of our player’s parents pulled his son from the team. He was convinced that I was not giving his son the opportunities he deserved; that I was favouring my son over his and was preventing his son from being successful. He filed a formal complaint with the league and I was required to meet with a director to explore the allegations. (I should point out that these were nine year old boys—seriously.) Fortunately, because of my deep love for baseball statistics, I had kept a detailed record of plate appearances, innings pitched, and other measurements that I was able to use to demonstrate that his son had actually played slightly more than my son, and despite the fact that his batting average was far lower than anyone else on the team, I had continued to ensure that the opportunities he had were no less than other players. (Note: