We went to Grace Church on San Antonio Sunday Morning. We went at the invitation of a friend of ours. I enjoyed it and found the teaching to be solid and the worship enjoyable. It’s in my top list, but I haven’t really visited a church I didn’t like yet. Here’s my temporary conclusions (meaning they may not be conclusive) so far in my journey. Actually while they are not conclusive, they are sort of new, in that I feel like I am learning some things on this journey without yet knowing exactly what the end result will be. I want to thank Pastor Matt from Paragon for tracking me down and checking in with me today at lunch. Of all the churches I visited he’s the only one to follow up but more than that, the discussion was fruitful for me.
1) First, I’ve always been a little skeptical of my Christian Friends who can never find a church good enough. After visiting half a dozen I’m now frankly amazed that they can’t find a church good enough. I would agree the search is difficult and I would also agree that it might be harder once I actually start settling, but I have been encouraged to discover that I could frankly learn, be fed, worship and minister at any of these churches I’ve so far visited. People who claim not be able to be fed at these churches are frankly just not opening their mouth, or perhaps like my kids perhaps they are only willing to eat one kind of food and turn their nose up at the offering for that day.
2) On the other hand, I’ve definitely come to understand even more why people who have never been church goers, why seekers and people who have been hurt early by a church, are unlikely to find anywhere that works for them. The only reason to go for the structure we typically have is because it is a structure that we, as church goers, are comfortable with. Otherwise, it’s not really conducive for discovery, discussion, exploration and questioning. Too often the structure mirrors the “go to an expert, get the answers” approach, even when (as is often) the pastor himself is humble and open to questions and discovery. Most churches do in fact offer this in small groups, but why should our Sunday service be so much different? I’m not sure it can be changed and I could be wrong that it should be, but it’s part of my search and exploration.
3) Ecclesiastes 11:6 says
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
This is what I feel I’ve been doing for the last several months. I recently applied for a job in Colorado and am considering an offer extended to help with a church in Colorado. I’m pursuing whatever I can at the Apple Store here in New Mexico; I’m writing two books and working to keep making my blog both interesting to you and possibly profitable for me. I’m meeting with the deacons to explore the Tangible Kingdom and basically pursuing anything else which seems to reflect both my gifts and potentials. It’s all been good and as Solomon says I’m not sure what will bear fruit and for the sake of my family, certain kinds of fruit is increasingly needed.
As I sat listening to Pastor Sheperdson and his excellent message on Sunday, I had one of those moments where I feel like I’m having a conversation with God. I say it that way not because I don’t believe God is in it, but because I don’t want to confuse anyone that I heard an audible voice or that I even know for sure that the words were God’s. I do believe that God often works through my own stream of thoughts to lead me to Him, particularly when I am being mindfully prayerful and attentive. Anyway, all that caveat aside (is that another caveat?), to boil it down the conversation was like this.
So, God, I’ve got so many things opening as options, but nothing firm. I’m trying to plan in the morning and the evening, but soon I’ll need to make decisions and say yes or no to things. How do I know which is best? Which will produce fruit, and could it possibly be soon?
Well, David, I appreciate your perseverance and I hope you are enjoying the journey because that’s part of my plan.
Yeah, I have, but last week was kind of a bummer cause the realities of a pilgrimage is that it isn’t paying the bills and my family needs somewhere to settle chruchwise as well.
Of course, well let me ask you something. If I promised you provision and success as long as you pursue what you truly want to do, what would it be.
I have to interrupt my script here, to assure you that I do not believe God was promising any such thing. I don’t believe He did promise any such thing, nor that he necessarily ever promises such a thing. I just think it was important for me to think about the question in this way. Not what can I be content doing and what might I be good at; because like the church search I suddenly realized there are any number of answers to those two questions. The question of what I want to do most if I knew that my family would be provided for had never occurred to me in this pilgrimage, so at least it was worth exploring. And that’s when I realized that phrased that way the answer boils down to teaching and writing. Specifically conferences like the Hidden Life, and writing books (and blogs). So,as I say I am not at all convinced this means that God has told me such a pursuit will provide for my family, but it has at least prompted me to think bout it differently. So this week I’ve begun thinking through what it would mean to do that. Can I book conferences on weekends and days off from my day job? Can I book enough in advance to begin to be confident about regular pay? So I’ve begun to gather, and create materials to better describe, promote and showcase my conference. Here’s some things you can pray about, and if you don’t pray here’s somethings you can know I”m working on.
- I’m realizing that many people who want to write books and teach conferences are lacking actual content. I have what I believe to be really substantive and interesting content and the ability to continue to produce this content (as long as the Lord allows). This is good.
- I’m fully aware that my lack is not in content but in an ability get this content to people, to promote and market myself. Pray that I gain wisdom. And if you are particularly apt at this kind of thing please feel free to advise, or offer to help. I have been helped in many ways by others so far and I am open to what you may have to contribute.
- I did the Hidden Life conference (previously named Faith Lift) successfully for 15 years. It got rave reviews and people were, I believe, blessed by it. I checked back in with previous attendees to see whether fruit was lasting or temporary and often it was life changing. I know people would have paid for it, but the truth is I lost money for 15 years because making money was not a priority. Now, while it’s not the reason for the conference, making money as i do is what makes it possible to do, so I need to learn how to prioritize money and at age 45 I’m finding such a mind shift difficult. A good friend of mine with business savvy, Deian, has offered to help me with a reasonable plan and I’m grateful.
- If you know of a church or church group who would be interested in a conference, sign up for the Hidden Life RSS feed on the side of the page or just email me and i’ll get you more information as it becomes available. The conference is both fun and important. People give up so much looking for “life” Scripture tells us where it’s found. People are so desperately trying to get God to approve of them. God has already proved he’d rather die than live without them. These are messages people need to hear. Whether they are Christians or not. I posted a new video on my Speaker page, but I”ve put it here for convenience as well.
So that’s my pilgrimage. Thanks for listening.
Smiling at the future,
p.s. Your turn is coming up. Soon I’m going to be asking you to share your story on this blog. Funny, inspiring, sad, exciting, anything as long as it’s true. Keep checking back for details.
Pastormac, I enjoyed your blog post. Thanks for coming to Grace Church. I didn’t get a chance to formally meet you at Grace, but Amanda and Mark tell me good things about you.
I appreciate your post and agree especially with a couple of points. Point one: I think there are a number of great churches in Abq. I’m partial to Grace, but that’s expected. But I know so many folks that complain about not being able to find a good church it drives me crazy. I’m not sure what they want/expect and I suspect they do not not know the answer either. Your dialog: open and honest dialog with God is tough and messy. I applaud your openness.
I hope you can find a way to make your gifts and abilities line up with serving the kingdom and making a living. If you ever want to talk just let me know.
Aaron, thanks so much for visiting and commenting on my blog. I appreciate very much your turning a monologue into a dialogue 🙂 I also appreciate your well wishes. So what is your role at Grace?
No problem. I’m the associate pastor at Grace. I joined the staff in 2008 as the youth pastor and changed roles about a year ago. I do lots of things… mostly organizational development type stuff. We are a medium sized church that still runs like a much smaller church. For some things it’s nice, but it usually causes problems and we are trying to change that without changing the church. (if that is possible)
Thanks for visiting. It was nice to see you and your family. Let’s actually follow up on that idea of getting together our families to hang out soon.
That would be awesome. We would love to get together.