Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ponderings for a New Year

Each morning I wake wondering how I can be the person expected to build a church. I presume my dreams focus on this as well and my spiritual director has heard my laments and worries. A Christmas gift of lasting value would be feelings of "settledness" in this community. On the positive side, I have name recognition, face recognition, recognition of my values - and most people respect this church planting I am doing here in north central Penna.

Not everyone wants to hear about a new church - many of those who live here are conservative and my church is decidely NOT conservative - but most are polite. There is, however certain interest from those who are alienated from traditional religion. Here is a bit of what I am doing for the new church (called SoulLinkGathering - or officially Soul Link
United Church of Christ) this month:
* discussion on individual spiritual paths at a local restaurant - a Wednesday, early evening, I buy the first round;
* nontraditional worship service and meal (Agape Meal - I experienced it at an Episcopal Church in Denver), a Saturday evening;
* DVD watching ("God on Trial") with discussion following at my house, a Sunday afternoon;
* I preach weekly to a small - but now reinvigorated - congregation. In this 175 year old congregation-with-a-will-to-live, we have a gay couple who has been attending for several months, a few former members who had left but are coming back to try me out, and last Sunday, two moms with their bright daughter.

I started seminary in my late-middle age and finally this morning, it occurred to me that building this church may be why I went to seminary. Some people need extra input to learn a lesson, must be that I do too. Not everyone wants to come to a beautiful community to battle elements (natural and man made) to start something new. But, during my time here, I sense a hunger among those who have not have a place to express their spirituality. The worship opportunities in this progressive church address that hunger.

Regardless of whether I am the person who is really a church-builder, I am the person who is here to do just that. To help, I am slowly reading Acts and the Pauline Letters to really learn what Paul, the first church planter, did. What I know thus far: he wrote (blogging is writing) and followed up (blogging on a regular basis is follow-up) and checked back and invited people and held services. All things I do. It worked for him.