Thanks to the generosity of the group of Churches that I work with (FEB Pacific) I was able to attend the Multiply Conference in Vancouver over the last 2 days. (The bonus was that 2 of my daughters live in Vancouver so I got to hang out with them for a while last night.) It was a great conference, well done, with excellent speakers and materials. Lots of good solid input for me to think about, reflect upon, and hopefully help our church to apply. The whole focus was on helping churches multiply disciples of Jesus.
But these types of conferences always bring up a tension in me, a tension between “doing” and “being”. I’ll try to explain. For years I went to conferences like this and came back full of ideas and plans for how the church I serve could better impact our community with the Good News of Jesus. But no matter how I tried I couldn’t get the “glass slipper” from the conference to fit on the foot of the Cinderella church that I loved so dearly. It felt frustrating to desire things to happen and yet not seem to be able to carry them out. Long story short, this initiated a years long process of moving from doing things for God to beginning to understand what it meant to be with God. It has been a fundamental shift in how I perceive everything regarding faith and church that was aided by a multitude of people, books, and experiences along the way. I have come a long way down this road and have grown to believe (and I mean this) that we really have nothing to offer God. He doesn’t need us, BUT He loves us and invites us to participate with Him in what He is doing in the lives of people around us. I have moved (or am moving) from what I would call a posture of doing and activity to a posture of being and receptivity. But then how do things get done? My theory is that if I am with God and receiving what He has for me, then His very presence with me will accomplish all that it wants to do in the lives around me. I am finding that this way of living is way more healthy and grace-filled and makes space for God to work in His way and in His timing in both my life and in the lives of those I live among.
But attending this conference has reminded me that while “being” is my primary focus toward God, “doing” does indeed flow out of that. In the final workshop the speaker asked us to take 15 minutes to answer the following questions as we prayed and reflected on our time here.
First, what is God speaking to you? Second, what are you going to do about it?
The answer to the first is what I just mentioned. While doing with little emphasis on being tends to lead to church structures and programs that try to shape people’s actions without penetrating to the heart of who they are, I am not to forget that being with God will naturally bring forth fruit of that relationship. God has made me with the gifts and talents that I have and has placed me where I am for His purpose. My focus on being has been life giving for me, and I hope for others. The question is how can I actively open the doorway to that possibility in the lives of those in our community.
So what am I going to do about it? I am going to continue to champion what we have recently discerned as the mission, vision, and strategy of our church. (Check that out here if you’d like to see it in summary.) As I reflect on my own journey there were four rhythms that continued to happen during my years of frustration that gave space for my being with God in them to help change me. Those have solidified as the four commitments we call members of our church to make: Worship, Learning, Relationships, and Mission. It’s helpful to view these commitments as the chair I sat in as a kid at the barber shop. Sitting in the chair didn’t actually get my hair cut, but it positioned me in a place where the barber could do his work. These commitments are less about doing something for God and more about positioning ourselves in a place with God where He can work in us. So over the next four weeks I’m going to write about each one, teasing out what they actually look like and why they are so important. I’m hoping you will come along for the ride. If you haven’t subscribed to my weekly updates you can do that here. Also feel free to comment and engage the ideas that I’m working through. I’d love to hear your insight along the way.