I learn a ton about myself during interviews. Rarely am I challenged to explain who I am and defend what I’ve done. It is an enlightening process.
My interviews with Valley’s leadership and search committee totalled over twenty-five hours. In addition I wrote over twenty pages of essays for them. Needless to say, I learned a lot about myself, my relationship with God, and my calling. I’m not going to detail for you the process for. Instead here are some things I learned:
1. It is all about loving people. It always has been. That was my prayer from the very beginning. It has always been central: when I was sitting on the bench with my dad, when I entered into ministry, and every step along the way it has been about loving people. Delusions of grandeur are exciting and entertaining, but they distract from the main thing – people.
2. God doesn’t need me. There is nothing irreplaceable about me because everything of value that I bring to the table He put in me. If my ego starts hindering his work, He can simply put the good stuff into someone else. Serving others (whether as a staffer or a lay person) is a priviledge; and always should be thought of as such.
3. God doesn’t care what church system we use. House church, cell church, traditional church, attractional church, mega church, fun Thingys – these structures are all secondary to God. God cares that we are recklessly loving Him and others with messy abandon. He wants us bringing His healing and freedom to the world. We need to look at our cultural context and pick the structure that will best empower us to join in His mission; but He will use whatever offering we bring to the table as long as our hearts are focused soley on Him.
4. While the church does need to change, there is no villains here. Those that built the current structures of church did so with pure intention and passion for Christ. They should not be villanized now because the world has changed/is changing around them. How were they to know what the future would hold? They should be celebrated, not condemned.
5. Nothing but God is sacred. I thought I was completely free of Golden Cows; but then someone during the interview process would ask me, “What about…?” and I would find myself making a structure, process, or tool sacred. Nothing is scared except Christ and our relationship with Him. We must cling to Him with a tight grasp; everything else we need to hold loosely.
Tomorrow is my first day on staff at Valley Baptist in Towson (north Baltimore). Going back into an institutional church is going to be a big change for me and Wendy. And although change is always scary, we feel blessed.
God has blessed an amazing crew on Monday nights. Being part of the Thingy is a true joy and honor. I know He is going to continue to do amazing things through us.
God has doubly blessed us by allowing us to be part of Valley. Last night as I sat at dinner with several of the families I was over come by their love for one another. There is so much God can do with that foundation. It is going to be a true joy to watch.
It is an exciting time to be part of the church. In our day we are rediscovering ourselves.
I feel very unworthy of all that God has given us. Pray for us as we journey forward. The future is full of possiblity.