Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Vision Thing ...

John Fitzgerald Kennedy stood in the Congress in 1961 and cast a vision for lunar travel by the end of the decade. Martin Luther King in 1955 cast a vision for desegregation of the Montgomery Bus System. Like Kennedy, like King, I need to cast the compelling vision for what we need to urgently pursue.

My credibility is "'the operating capital' from which leaders draw in order to advance the vision."

A little scary, eh? I confess: I don't see myself as a vision caster. I see myself more as someone who can take someone else's vision and work it to success, but cast one of my own? I am anxious.

Maybe it isn't my vision .... ?

I feel a gentle urging of the Holy Spirit to get started, to get moving, to exercise a little "holy" impatience.

I believe we have reached a place where we large enough to begin the movement out into starting to realize the vision for who this church is going to be in the 21st Century.

There is a "joke" about a man who is stuck on the roof of his house during a flood and prays to God to rescue him. He turns down two boats and a helicopter and eventually the house collapses, and he drowns. He gets to heaven, angry over the fact God didn't rescue him, and God says "what are you doing here? I sent two rowboats and a helicopter?"

I wonder if we haven’t in the form of the land resources and excellent newly emergent location been given the rowboat and the helicopter. Do we run the risk that God will ask what we are doing here in Heaven prematurely deceased because of our failure to understand the seed corn provided.

I continue to believe that using the existing property in some way, in order to create grain that properly planted will produce a harvest of fifty, seventy and one hundred fold. I try to listen to both side on this, but at the end of the day, I operate as if my role in this is less about what the decision is, and that we have respectfully listened to each other on this and can reach the decision without splitting the congregation. One of the management books I have recently read says I should be prepared to accept casualties, but I want to minimize the collateral damage on this.

The issue is made more difficult by the fact that in this nearly invisible discussion are people of character, competence, and they have generally made significant contributions to the church who at this point just don't quite agree on what we need to do or the means to accomplish it. I cannot emphasize strongly enough, Grace abounds and as a result they are faithful in their leadership.

Power and authority seem to go "hand in glove." We need to be careful in how we use both. The Bishop laid hands on me and said "take the authority of an Elder." It is my authority obligation to spend my time moving effectively and seamlessly between the watching (in the balcony) and participating (on the dance floor), carefully sorting out the pepper from the fly specks.

If I articulate the urgency of the vision, I am mindful that the assent and commitment will Nehemiah-like, follow.

I have in the last 24 hours placed three critical phone calls to various outside the church resources needed to get our vision started. Pray for me here.

I have asked a retiring pastor who has been through something very similar to what we need to do to be my coach. He has said yes. Pray for both of us here ...

I am mindful that this isn't the 1960s Lunar Landing or a 1950s Paradigm Shift in a racially polarized South ... but that doesn't mean this will be easy. 

Selah ...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Lent as Spiritual Spring Training

The text yesterday just seemed to lend itself to the idea of baseball and focusing on the idea of using Lent as a time of spiritual spring training.  I got the idea here at the Facebook page for The Text This Week (Facebook).  I preached from the Philippians

The Holy Spirit provided us our District Superintendent, Olon Mulford Lindemood who was there for our non-traditional service.  He is a big baseball fan, and I guess just another example of how the Holy Spirit operates ...

I suggested that Paul was proud of the church at Philippi.  He had some thoughts that would help them get through their season but there were a few fundamentals they needed to focus on because their goal wasn't to be good in Arizona or Florida (spring training sites) or as individuals to find themselves playing ball only at Tulsa or Colorado Springs (Colorado Rockies farm sites), but to make it to that Cathedral of Baseball in Denver called Coors Field. 

The big idea was that this is not our final home.  We are called to make this world as good (perfect?) as we can, but at the end of the day, here in this world isn't our final home.  There is tension in the idea. 

Heaven is the place to which we aspire and hope for. 

At the same time, we aspire to make this world better. 

In the movie Field of Dreams the hero meets a father he knew only after life's struggle had changed him.  The son wondered about the father but didn't know him.  In the movie, he meets him and understands better who he was.  His father asks "is this heaven" and the son he doesn't recognize yet says "No, its Iowa".  They go on to say that 'Heaven is where dreams come true.'

Lent is a time for us to pause in our individual journeys and ask ourselves where are we and where are we going. 

A line I wish I had used in the sermon from the movie is about the player who after 5 minutes of Major League fame diverts his attention to be a Doctor.  Our Iowa hero seems to think it is a tragedy that after five minutes in the Majors he turned his back on that life and dedicated his life to caring for others.  The Doctor says "Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy."

I can't help but wonder on this blog if my call to be the pastor at Stratmoor Hills isn't my own version of that conversation ... insert for me the word "pastor" for the word "doctor". 

The doctor talks to our dream field builder about his life as a doctor in a small town:  "This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child."

Wow ... can I ever relate to that ...

I start off talking about how "this world" isn't our home but at the same time recognizing that our calling is to be change agents in this world.  I guess that describes the tension we all feel in preaching and leading a church.  But maybe when we really feel like we are making a difference in our little place in the world, 'the wind doesnt' blow as cold' and "you feel for it, like it was your child."