Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gators

From the Florida Notes of Tim Sprankle, Pastor:

I've been searching for gators and lizards. I want to take pictures. I want to get close. I want to start a conversation.

The overwhelming theme for iGo 08 (FGBC Adult Conference) is evangelism. Paul tells us to do this work (2 Tim. 4:5). So does Jim Brown and Mark Cahill. I'm pretty sure I can do this, even if I don't have a video camera, survey, and copy of a book I authored. All I need is conversations.

One of the realities of gator safaris and lizard hunts is the target is moving. He may bite, she may scurry behind the bushes. The gator may not be baited by heaven because he likes the swamp too much. The lizard may not be scared of hell; just the flash of my camera.

But my job isn't to tame any of these wild creatures, just to engage them. And to take pictures--I promised my daughter I would.


NOTE: For those caught in a literal/historical/grammatical reading, the reference to 'gators' and 'lizards' has both a face-value and symbolic meaning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meetings

I don't like calling meetings. Perhaps the word is too formal for me. Meeting suggests moderation, agendas, votes, reports, and refreshments. And while each of these is necessary, the refreshments are the only immediate payoff. Empty calories don't wait for a nomination.

My despair with meetings is reasonable: talking about issues doesn't intrinsically effect them.
"Meetings. Don't we love meetings? Every day. Twice a day. We talk... I bet if I blew the conch this minute, the'd come running. Then we'd be, you know, very solemn, and someone would say we ought to build a jet, or a submarine, or a TV set. When the meeting was over they'd work for five minutes, then wander off..." (Golding, Lord of the Flies; 51).
Talking requires doing. Faith, James says, is no different. Thus, I can talk until I'm blue in the face about sound equipment and building modifications, but the discussion doesn't manifest a mixing board and contractor. That requires a second step: a service order. Furthermore, talking is always in community; doing is often in isolation. (The inverse, of course, would be lunacy and co-dependency.)

I read in isolation. I pray in isolation. I prepare sermons and activities and outreach events in isolation. But if I call a meeting, there is a quorum. People love to gather. I need a conch.

Actually, I just need to ask people to do with me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leader

"We need a leader," she said.

The woman stood with five others in the church foyer. They were waiting for me. People need a leader when the church doors are open. People need a leader when the scheduled event breaks from routine. People need a leader when their pastor is five minutes late.

So I led, as needed, repeating the details from the morning. "The instructions for 'Read Your Bible for an Hour Straight' are thus: Read your Bible for an hour straight. Oh yeah, you can sit anywhere."

Some may have wanted to know what to read, where to read, and if there would be an alarm going off at 7:00, followed by a brief quiz and discussion. I warned them about the quiz, but said nothing else.

One lesson I'm begin to learn is that leadership includes answering both WHAT and WHY? Call me postmodern (or unorganized), but I'm not too keen on either. I like ambivalence. I like hosting a gathering that does not explicitly tell either WHAT will happen or WHY we're doing it. I like tension and communal discovery. But this is not always what people want.

Last night, I just wanted people to read the Bible. Must of us don't. Not enough. Not at all. Once I heard a girl profess she was 'purging from the Bible' for a year. Apparently, along with the partially hydrogenated oils in her peanut butter, it was polluting her system with toxins. She was reaching God through Yoga instead.

As folks left that evening, I received a brief report on the content of their reading: what book, story, poem, letter. And I asked if it was beneficial. It was a leading question, I know, but I was asked to lead. So I did.