I went to General Assembly in 2012 as an observer…which meant, literally that I was there with absolutely no ulterior motives, I just wanted to see how things worked. My husband, my three children and my mother came with me. Luckily, my husband had friends in Pittsburgh, where it was, so he was interested in seeing them. Luckily, my mom is a Presbyterian Pastor so she was interested. Luckily my youngest was an infant so he could easily tag along with me. Luckily, I could go.
But it was a hassle, and there I was a young pastor burning with the call to do things–and I couldn’t find the young/contemporary people.
And, I want young people to go to church–maybe, perhaps, even more than my elders do. I want young people to come not just because they are the “future of the church” not because “we need them” or even “the church is dying” but because I am young, and I feel alone. I want my peers to be into what I’m into, I want friends and partners who understand what it is to be fulltime working, raising children, on all the media and a millennial…it hurts, it hurts because its tempting to take the weight of an entire generations’ conversion on my shoulders (which is stupid because I don’t convert people, Jesus does, but I’m only human, so I slip), one night I cried all over my best friend’s shoulder because it just felt so overwhelmed and sad and alone
There are a few gaps that I see that I think that are obvious to me that do not seem to be a part of the conversation in the greater church.
Churches are NOT family accessible:
I could write the laundry list of why, but lets just say…most timing is very inconvenient and children are NOT included in most of church life…they are either tucked away somewhere else or ignored.
and there is never any babysitting…there certainly wasn’t any at GA….and then they wonder why young families aren’t coming.
This is all to say that I am going to the NextChurch conference next week, and no I am not bringing my children, but there is BABYSITTING. This alone makes me know that nextchurch is on the right track.
“We WILL have childcare available for the National NEXT Gathering. Childcare will run from 8:30a-5:30p on Monday and Tuesday and 8:30a-12:30p on Wednesday. Childcare will be located at the Hilton, the conference hotel. We’re outfitting a playroom there. It will be staffed by fully vetted childcare providers through the service College Nannies. The fee for childcare is $75 per child for the whole conference. Please bring a check made out to Village Presbyterian Church, earmarked “NEXT Childcare.” If this cost is prohibitive, please be in touch with Jessica Tate (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss options.”
I was just thinking about this, what if seminaries taught us how to meet the next culture…what if we could (maybe not get a ahead) but get onboard with those who are growing up now….”We don’t need anymore classically trained pastors who have no idea how to navigate a culture change in their congregations.”
“Where true inner freedom is, there God is. And where God is, there we want to be…When we meet a truly free person there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom.”
We have been practicing breath prayer of “Freedom, in Christ” some thoughts for that…
hesychasm in tradition has been the process of retiring inward by ceasing to register the senses, in order to achieve an experiential knowledge of God. It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic (hermit) tradition of prayer known as Hesychasm (Ancient Greek: ἡσυχάζω, hesychazo, “to keep stillness” stillness, rest, quiet, silence). The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition (see Philokalia) as a method of opening up the heart (kardia) and bringing about the Prayer of the Heart (Καρδιακή Προσευχή). The Prayer of The Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the apostle Paul advocates in the New Testament. St. Theophan the Recluse regarded the Jesus Prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the power of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Malinda Lo is giving away YA LGBTQ books!
Never Forget, is what we say about 9/11
What I will never forget is my friends all going downtown in Cleveland to give blood….us walking around hugging complete strangers during what was a the 2nd week of college 1/3rd of whom came from NY. I remember my friend Alex emailing his parents (which was totally weird way to communicate in an emergency back then) and people offering cell phones (much rarer then) to help Mark and others call home. I remember the school office being open 24hrs for landline calls which were so much more dependable then. I remember Glenn was driving people downtown to give blood, and helping to find places for people to go using his cars. I remember stories via the phone from Chloe seeing the building going down, and Emily and Jessica meeting everyone for meals. I remember Charlie sitting alone in his room, not having met us yet. And I remember the giant sleepover we had that night…and though it turned into people being angry and sad, I’ll remember that our first reaction was “How can we Help?” And it was my first and best experience of college relationships, and served as a pattern for the rest of my experience at Oberlin College….. and that is what I never want to forget about 9/11
Toto:cute furry companion or best plot device ever?
Causes Dorothy’s trouble with Ms Gulch,
leads Tinman Scarecrow and Lion to Dorothy,
reveals the Wizard,
causes Dorothy to miss the balloon.
Every time we talk about belief in the Bible, the word is actually faith.
WAHOO! LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN: religion is about belief, whereas it should be (and spirituality really is about) faith.
For a handy chart with some scripture click here
Here is the deal
Beliefs are the limit of human capabilities, they allow us to stretch. Knowledge takes us only so far, beliefs are what we can do beyond knowledge
Faith is letting go to what we know or even believe, and letting the fullness of God to enter our lives. It is beginning to understand that God is beyond our ken, and there is something we live in
Belief is individual, its something you say to define who you are. These is why beliefs are so hard to change, because they are about who you are, and you have reasons for the beliefs you hold. A person (like your spouse or sibling) has a set of beliefs oftentimes they are not e–zzzzactllllyyyy the same as what you believe. Beliefs are a part of who you are. This is why people (and groups, like Presbyterians) have a set of beliefs.
Faith is communal, its about what holds people together. Its often more about the gaps and differences rather than similarities. Faith is what allows you to not know everything, its about practicing the give and take of beliefs. If you don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to believe or trust in something, you can come to a group where others can do what you can’t. When people ask Why do you go to church? Can’t I just believe what I want to at home? I completely agree…one can be spiritual, disciplined and have beliefs on one’s own. And these beliefs are important. BUT, faith is a community that allows for a deeper exploration that isn’t only about what we believe.
Beliefs are tenants that we hang onto. The structures by which we understand the world. As much as they are about who we are, they also are about how we relate to the world and what is important to us. They are the structure on which we hang our hats (philosophers are GREAT at this). Beliefs are something to hang onto.
Faith is a seed–its a small beginning of who we are that we allow to grow. Although it starts out with who we are, its more flexible, not defining our world but instead is something we can come home to (Chart), somewhere to live in the world of different beliefs. Faith holds onto us when we are lost, its what comes and looks for us when we can’t find our way back–Prodigal son, lost coin, lost sheep.
There is nothing wrong with beliefs, I think they are great…they help us to define our world and to express who we are….there are places for beliefs in Christianity–they tend to be during the time of confession, when we say who we are, what we believe first together as a particular church and then silently as individuals. Beliefs are wonderful.
Faith is different that belief though, and in all the places (except in 1st Timothy) what we define as belief is actually faith: epistw (pronounced epistu) .
(Probably because the disciples continue to say they have unfaith, which isn’t a word for us but disbelief is….ah, the logistics of language LOL). Many, many times the disciples and followers of Christ confess that they do not have enough faith…they ask for Christ to help it to grow.
Belief is about telling our own story—telling who we are and why we are that way and what we believe
Faith is about a way of life, a way of faith, hope and trust in the Lord that is beyond us without God’s help. Faith is something we CAN’T hang onto by ourselves, its too big for us to understand. Its like when Peter walks across water, one minute he has faith–the fullness of God in him, and then it becomes too much and he has to let go and thus starts to sink. These moments are flashes, pieces where we connect via community and God to the fullness of life.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Note, the problem isn’t that the disciples don’t believe in forgiveness, no doubt they do. They just don’t necessarily have the capabilities to do that much forgiveness all the time, so they need more faith (more trust/hope/love from God) in order to be able to live a life of faith.
In Conclusion: Spiritual but not Religious …the church is doing it backwards Christians such as Peter Rollins, Jay Bakker and Jim Palmer deal with the problem of belief and doubt. They say that doubt isn’t counter to belief, its a part of it. I would dig deeper as say that both belief and doubt are a part of the richer, communal and God-intiated (and gift of) faith. (Faith Hope and Love, hence why LOVE is the most important, its about how you live things out, not what you believe)
The Church shouldn’t be a place of tenants and beliefs, it should be a community of questions and faith. The church should be a place for unbelievers to gather (the drunks, the prostitutes and the lepers should be taxi-ed in!)
•Ever notice that Jesus doesn’t go around touted his beliefs. Instead he ask people what they believe (or don’t believe) and then meets them there! (up a tree, by a well, at a stoning, on a cross)…The disciples certainly don’t always retain their trust in God. But, Christ doesn’t ask what people’s beliefs are before them, instead he works to increase their faith. And when people ask Jesus questions, he doesn’t tell them what they should believe, instead he asks them a question in return.
Essentially this scenario takes place over and over, the penultimate being the interchange with Pilate (Katy’s interpretation of events to follow)
Pilate: Who are you?
Jesus: Who do you believe I am?
Pilate: Are you the King of the Jews?
Jesus: So you say…
Pilate: You are the savior?
Jesus: If you think so….
Pilate: Just answer me, are you the King or aren’t you?
Jesus: You say I am, and all these people say I am, I don’t claim to be the King of the Jews, however, I will say this. Even if everyone stopped calling me the King, then the very rocks would say that’s who I am…just saying………
Note: not putting beliefs on others, just a discussion about where the community of faith was….that should be how the church exists!!!!!!
This is the call of the church, we are called not to a set of beliefs (that’s law people) but the gift of faith (YAY for saved by grace not works)……
I don’t know what I believe…but I do have a little faith!
For God so loved the world that whoever has (even a little) faith into him shall never die, but have eternal life
Recently the Presbyterian Church tried to address the issue of health care. Basically, they wanted to start charging a higher percentage to families than to pastors without families. (Note a higher percentage, so the families were already paying more)….This is an issue because we try to do something we term “Call Neutrality” which is the idea that we pay everyone a living wage (so we have minimum’s) so pastors can be free to go to the church that best fits
People freaked out (including me)
This raised a whole lot of issues, which are really the issue.
1. Ministry jobs are hard to find. In PCUSA the stats are 3 pastors for every job out there.
2. Most ministry jobs aren’t fulltime anymore
3. Benefits aren’t that generous
4. The Economy is hard–and if your married your spouse needs a job
5. Most ministries are shorter–7 years is the reported average of a ministry, which is way different than the 30yrs that used to be expected
6. Pastors are younger and churches are older…I’m the youngest person at all of my churches by at least 12 years………talk about generational divide
7. The call process is long and hard
8. Call Neutrality is a myth. Young pastors go to small/poor/rural churches, women even moreso. Women get less paying jobs and are more often associates. Children “do” influence a church’s decision to get a pastor even though they are theoretically neutral
Ok, so here are the real issues, on the table
Now how does a call to ministry need to transform?
We talk about how churches need to change, maybe we need to start working on what a pastorate is
Can we be MORE supportive of part time ministries?
Can we try other models of ministry (more part time ministries)?
Can we work more with all of those ministers who are called to specialized (i.e. untraditional ministries)?
Can the call process be more open or more streamlined?
Are there ways to support small churches doing searches in meaningful ways?
Can we work to get older pastors and young family pastors the stability they need?
Here are the real issues, lets get to it…