It has been an interesting week to say the least. Spent the better part of the last week in Sterling,VA (which is just over the border from Washington D.C). I flew out on the dime of the Presbyterian Church, which in itself if a pretty cool thing. I was accepted into the PCUSA New Church Development Pastor’s Discernment Conference. In essence it was a group of twenty of us that were trying to figure out our goals and direction in life. Many there were looking to see where God was to call them in the direction of their ministry. Were we called to do new churches or simply to do ministry in a new way in the contexts where we were serving. To get into this was told to us was competitive. What that actually means is unsure. Were there thousands that wanted a free weekend? I seriously doubt that was the case but who knows beyond the leadership team? All I know is that everything was paid for which was a bonus. Of course I probably would have gone even if I paid for it. All I know is that I came back more than a few pounds heavier thanks to JP’s Deli.
I was put into a small group with two other people. One was from Virginia and another from Indianapolis. It was very interesting to hear their stories about where God is leading them in their journeys. While we all had different stories and backgrounds, their was one common thread. That was that the church needs something new, and we did not know quite what that was going to be. Our small group spent a enormous amount of time together in the 48 hour period that the conference lasted. From Thursday noon to Saturday noon almost all of our time was discussing what did God have in store for us. For some the answer was obvious in others the process of discerening had started but nothing had come clear yet. We were asked questions that we were to ponder through the time that helped us explore and realize what was out there for us. The initial question embodied everything: Who is Jesus? That first question represents everything that we believe in. If we think that Jesus is a community organizer or savior of the world. The way that we view that essential tenant is how we respond and lead to what we are called to. Made me think and it hurts when I do that.
Me, being a cocky guy sometimes, thought that I knew what I wanted to do. That was to be a New Church guy. Entering the room on the first morning I was surrounded by a bunch of ordained minister and here I was a very little fish in the big pond. As the pastors around me were working on discerning their own situations, I thought that it was all done for me. Boy was I wrong. Through this I realized what was missing in my whole process. That being the impact on my family, etc. Sure I was (and still am) willing to be in great locals such as: Hawaii, California, Fiji, or on Carnival Cruise Lines, but what about other places and contexts? Before this weekend I was steadfast in saying “no”. The more time that I spent on that question, the more a word came to me. That is to “prepare”. Not in the sense that I need to get an emergency kit together with water and everything, but to get all my family, church, and personal affairs together. This weekend made me understand that I can reside in areas other than the ones that I am accustomed to.
There is so much that is still floating in my head and it will be interesting what happens when that becomes clear. All I know that it has been a long day flying from the east coast home. Time for bed.