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I’ve been thinking through this for a few days now and the question that has been racking my brain is:
Do we have spiritual limits?
Does there come a point where our spirituality maxes out?
While I know the answer to this is most likely no, when I think about the state of many congregations it seems to me that spirituality is stagnant or very slow growing.
Yes, I am very aware that spirituality is not something that happens in leaps or bounds or is something that happens overnight.
But why does it seem that some christians go through most of their lives and never fully experience the life changing message of Jesus.
Isn’t our response to what Christ has done, to build and develop our spirituality and the way we live?
I do think that many people find themselves in the same position that I often find myself in. Spirituality takes intentionally and a deep desire to follow Christ. Which doesn’t fit into our, take the easiest road, or the road with the biggest tangible payout, style of life.
What are we as christian leader to do to motivate our congregrants to deeply desire a spiritual life?
Is there anything we can do?
Or is that up to God and the person?
This is quickly turning into a post with far more questions than answers or even statements.
Granted I understand there is a difference between hyper-spirituality and an everyday spirituality that people can be a part of.
If I really believed that people had spiritual limits then I would probably quit my job right now.
I just don’t know if people really think spirituality is graspable. And if they do, then what is it going to take to have them make a difference.
Do we as leadership need to tell them that they are capable of actually living out spirituality? Have we affirmed this fact on a regular basis? Or do we preach a hyper-spirituality that people feel is out of reach?
Or is it that we aren’t giving the people enough control of the church so that their creativity and spirituality can form the life of the church?
Can we teach old dogs new tricks?
I need some help here. Please leave some comments or write a post of your own and leave the link.
You both will be greatly missed and my life will have a void that cannot easily be filled.
My prayers and love go with you both.
You can follow their journey at their Scotland blog: scotvet.net
Been home for a few days now and I’m starting to feel recovered.
Well tiredness and the fact that I’d need to spend more time driving than actually doing anything at the event, has led me to stay home. I’m sorry that I’m missing out being with some cool people, but I’ll catch you guys soon. And I was making it so that I might be late to High School group, and that’s more important anyways.
Sorry for the Blarfing.
What is a blarf you ask?
Well it is a term that I have just created. In my 30 sec of searching I couldn’t find anyone using it as I am about to tell you how I am using it, so therefore as far as I know I am creating the use for the term.
A blarf is the conjunction of the words blog and barf.
A definition would be: “An outpouring of multiple posts over a short period of time. Best used when posts come after a substancial period of silence (period of silence also known as being a hobo-blogging).”
This will be my last post until I return.
So in case you missed them here are the recent posts for you to read over and over and over (don’t forget to comment), while I am away.
Often on a lazy saturday I spend a good amount of time watching Public Television.
Firstly since, I don’t have cable, and secondly there usually isn’t much else on.
So I watch a lot of the cooking shows that are on public tv. Some of them are the studio shows, but many of them have world locations as their backdrops.
Something struck me today as I watched a show where this chef was wandering around Mexico City.
First let me premise this, with the understanding that these shows are produced for an American audience and really want to highlight the nice things that these countries have to offer, both culturally and also culinary.
What struck me is that as I watched this show I found myself wondering why everything was so nice. Or pretty. Or beautiful.
Mexico city is one of the most (if not the most) populated city in the world. There are unfathomable amounts of poverty and crime and dirtiness and other things that are characteristic of a 2nd or 3rd world nations.
I sat there knowing that there was so much suffering and pain probably happening around each corner of each shot, but we as the audience were shielded from this.
I guess I’m just at that point in my christian life where I don’t want pretty. I don’t want nice. I don’t want everything to be presented on a pretty platter so that it looks like something I want to consume.
I don’t want to live in the commercial for the country that I should visit.
I want to live my live stuck waist deep in the realities of the world. I want to be surrounded with the places where beauty is not defined by clean buildings and appealing imagery. I know this makes things harder, it makes finding beauty something we must work for, and it makes beauty all the more beautiful.
As I begin to really think through how and where I want to live my life and where and how I want to do ministry, these places that are not picture perfect begin to seem more and more appealing. I am growing tired of suburbia and affluence. More and more my heart longs to be amongst the people of God, who truly understand the need to rely on God for everything they have.
It seems like too often our churches take on the understanding of these shows. The emphasis is on making things nice and neat and contained. I hear far fewer stories where church life is disheveled and raw, than stories where there is a lot of work and effort to make things look and run smoothly, where if you come to our church it seems like everyone is happy and content.
Too often we say we want to live authentic lives that are real, raw, open, laid bare, but far too often I do not see that lived out in the life of a church. Problems are hush, hush, pastors feel incapable of being real and open, church members who are hurting for one reason or another are unable to share their hurt, in fear that they will be looked down upon.
I know that this usually isn’t an open motive to not allow people to express their pain, but it occurs more than we would like it to.
When I think about how we can live more in tune with Jesus’ understanding of broken and needy people, I think we need to make intentional space for these concerns and stories to be told. Are we willing to have space in our services where people can share their true brokenness? And are we as a congregation really willing to fully accept these people as contributing members to the community, or are they seen as not fit to contribute because of their “whatever”. If a woman confesses she is unwed pregnant and living with her boyfriend, does that disqualify her from being an active participant and contributor to the life of a church? Or does she have to keep things quiet and secretive as to blend in with the “regular” people who are probably just as hurting as she is?
My hope is that I can be part of a community that is willing to tear down the facade of beauty and perceptions of having everything together. As I truly get to know people I have a deep understanding that our lives are a mess. And that’s a good thing! Though it seems to be that this really only happens in close relationships. Which probably speaks to the fact that church sometimes doesn’t live up to the call to be in relationship with each other. Although this is an entire side topic, I think some of this comes from our form of worship with each other. When we stare at the back of the head in front of us and we don’t dialogue with each other about what we are learning then it is usually hard to form relationships with hair who doesn’t talk and when we can’t talk to the hair.
Relationships are hard. Truly raw and unpretty relationships are harder. But that’s what we see Jesus a part of. He’s involved with unperfect people and they are involved with him. I think we have a lot to learn from the places in the world that we would rather hide from our cameras and the insides of our travel brochures. Jesus really sets a good example on who to love and how to love them and how to make sure our community life doesn’t end up looking like an ad for some miracle drug, where people are just happy and running through fields.
Sorry I won’t be around to discuss this with you all this week, but that doesn’t mean that you guys can’t have some good conversation in the comments.
I mentioned it below in the boat of house post, but I wanted to take some more time to jot down some thoughts before we set out on the experience of trying to have middle schoolers participate in the Daily Office (divine hours) while on the houseboat trip.
Like I said, we are stepping into uncharted territory in terms of youth ministry.
I’ll start by briefly telling you what the daily office is all about in case you don’t know.
The daily office is an ancient christian practice dating back to the days of the apostles and was done under the name of “fixed hour prayer”. It was further developed by the monk Benedict as part of the “rule” in his monastery. It further evolved as a part of the catholic church, and is a part of the book of common prayer which is anglican and also used in the lutheran and episcopal churches.
The version we are going to be using will be the version that has been put together by an amazing woman named Phyllis Tickle (you can also find links for an online daily office on her site).
We will stop 4 times a day. Morning, noon, evening, and right before bed. To pray and have a small 5-10 min service that is scripted, think liturgy, which in theory creates a daily rhythm and space for us to come to worship and keep God in the midst of our day.
The houseboat trip is a unique time for us to try this. We have total control over the pacing of the day, which allows us in a way to “force” the students to engage in this practice. We understand that it will be hard, since this practice is a spiritual discipline. We also understand that it will be weird and foreign since none of the student will have been exposed to this before.
What we hope this will accomplish, is nothing grand, but more likely will not even be something that will have an immediate effect on the students. It is our hope that within the week, students will start to begin to understand that God is a necessary part of a daily life. That there is no way to separate God from everything we do, and that in stopping during the day to acknowledge God, helps us understand how God is present in everything we do. We also hope that it will start to embed a rhythm into their lives for how it is possible to integrate into their lives.
Who knows if student will even attempt to do this when they get home. The circumstances will be completely different, the demands on their lives will return, the distractions and laziness will overcome their desire to participate in the daily office.
I will also upfront acknowledge that these are middle school students ranging in maturity levels from a 6th grade boy to an 8th grade girl. That in of itself is a challenge. We hope that students will find some value in doing something everyday that has to do with worship, prayer, stopping each day, and finding God in the midst of everyday.
I think you are starting to see where we hope to take this experience. I am tired and it is late and once again my words fail me, I will really think hard about the experience and will try and come up with some insightful comments and what students had to say about the experience.
I am asian, see annyeonghaseyo, but starting sunday I will begin the yearly (sometimes two times a year) experiment of growing my facial hair.
I do shave everyday. But I probably could go every 2 days. I don’t really grow enough hair to ever have a mustache or a goatee. I like to try. And being on a boat for a week provides me the perfect opportunity to look scruffy and gross. Too bad I won’t have a camera to track my progress, it won’t be pretty, who knows maybe this will be the year that in a week’s worth of time, I will be able to fill something out that looks 1/2 decent.
Let the experiment begin!!!!