2019 08 ReMARKS
Many folks inside and outside the community of faith have been asking what is next for Pueblo Light and Life Church? While I do not have a clear picture as I type this newsletter article, I do have a clear understanding that the Lord has something in store for us. NOTE I said us! This is not a pastor thing or a people thing this is a Community of Faith Thing.
The first step of joining the movement of the Holy Spirt is to acknowledge and confess our past shortcomings as the people of God. It is not my attempt to create a list here or to relive the past, but it is my attempt for each of us to prayfully recognize that the church has not been very focused on making disciples who make disciples who make disciples……. In many cases, we tend to want to maintain the status quo and are fearful of “those outside the walls.” Ask yourself, who have you / we discipled recently. Have they participated in the discipleship process with someone else and has that someone else discipled someone. Ask yourself, who have you / we sent from this community of faith to start a new church, become a long-term missionary, became a pastor or became a spiritual director.
We often use as a metric of how many people come into our church building. We measure how many stay in our church building. We measure how many leave our church building. I want us to begin to ask how many people have we sent from our community of faith..
We are in the process of decluttering and purging the facilities in preparation for what is next. Marilyn Mitchell shared with me that she had a dream that she and I were clearing a much larger church. I suggested that we were cleaning so we could welcome a larger number of people in our community of faith. It is my view, that we will participate in the disciple-making process and will send those new and old disciples out to make disciples.
This new paradigm will cause us angst and frustration, because we will be moving on from the old methods and old understandings that do not work in this new post-Christian context.
I offer these words from a dear friend of mine as he reflected on this new context just a few days after the horrific shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
Jim Herrington (good friend of Pastor Mark W Douglas)
The Leaders Journey, Coaching For Whole-Hearted Leadership
August 06, 2019
I’m profoundly saddened by what happened in El Paso and Dayton. The impact is beyond words and the fact that it happens over and over and over again breeds a level of cynicism that is dangerous to our well-being.
I believe that what has happened there has many underlying causes. On multiple fronts we are facing problems that are heart-breaking and that require urgent answers.
But those problems only have long-term solutions.
Giving in to the tyranny of the urgent is like playing a game of wack-a-mole. You make this problem go away but another one pops up somewhere else because you haven’t dealt with the root causes. All the while confidence in leaders to find a way forward diminishes.
We need leaders who can admit that we are living in a massive, historic paradigm shift in which we as individuals need a renewal of the human spirit that empowers us to face the challenges that this transition offers. We also need leaders who can admit that all of our institutions are floundering. In the US, government, business, education, law enforcement, and religion are all built around decades old assumptions of homogeneity, slow change, and a shared set of values and a shared understanding of what is real and true.
None of those realities exists anymore.
Leaders on various parts of the leadership spectrum who call us to double down and work harder at what has worked in the past are most assuredly asking us to choose the slow death option.
So, for us to thrive, we ask individuals and all of our institutions must face the challenge of deep change (transformation). And in choosing that pathway, we must also acknowledge that both deep change and slow death involve a painful transition that is messy and sometimes frightening. The more messy and frightening it becomes, the more we look for a savior who can magically make the mess go away. We look for quick fixes and someone to blame.
If that is true, then one of the questions it raises is, “How do we develop leaders who can, with some measure of calm, help us develop the deep changes in ourselves and in our institutions that are required for them to be effective in this new paradigm, this new context?”
I have shared with you often that I have been “unlearning” much of what I wrongly held near and dear to me because it was safe and comfortable. The Kingdom was never meant to be safe. It was actually very dangerous and challenged the status quo throughout history. Let’s embrace the deep change we as individuals must make and the community of faith must make to make real the Kingdom here in Pueblo, Colorado, the US, and the world. We are part of a family of Free Methodists who was birthed through embracing a new paradigm.