Ok, so I asked for it! Somebody can argue with me anytime they want about answered prayer and God not responding to the desires of the heart and I’ll give them a HUGE earful. Here’s the story…change is in my life. Welcomed change…big change…in some way, frightful and exciting change. I can’t get into the WHOLE story because it spans a lifetime…but here’s the story in a nutshell. I have been a professional church person most of my professional life…I started as a youth pastor when I was the tender age of 17 and a 1/2. Then, after getting my BA in Religion, it was off to Seminary. Seminary led to other professional ministry positions (not only in youth ministry but in conference ministry, music ministry, camping and retreat ministry) and after four years not only a MDiv but also ordination into the Lutheran Church. From 1980 until 2003, I served four different congregations…mostly large ones except for the three years where I labored for the Lord while God was "reconstructing" a deconstructed life…my life which was torn apart by years of overwork, burn out, a broken marriage and a relational/ecclesiastical suicide. By God’s amazing grace, I had the opportunity to serve a very small but wonderful congregation made up of mostly gray hairs who were used by the Spirit in miraculous ways. I listened to their stories…ate their cookies…buried their loved ones…and preached/taught my heart back to life. Then it was on to California for some great years in a church in OC. In 2003, I left the institutional church after having received a "call" from the Spirit to lead the Youth Leadership Institute…a five year grant program funded by the Lilly Endowment. The journey at Azusa Pacific University has been fulfilling and challenging. It was during the last four years that I began my doctoral program and also began to teach biblical studies courses through the Haggard School of Theology. As the grant ends, my full-time job comes to a completion…but my Adjunct teaching continues. Unfortunately, not enough income to go it on its own. So, NOW WHAT? Well…here’s a peak from behind the curtain: for years, I’ve been praying about doing life and ministry bi-vocationally. I’ve bought into a new paradigm…a new lifestyle…a new way of doing "church". In the past, people who I served paid my salary…now it is time to do something different. The way I see it is like this – I want to use a couple of people from my current faith community (Re/New Ministry – http://www.renewministry.com) as an example – let’s call them "Joe and Pam". I’ve been doing life with Joe and Pam for two years in our community. We’ve been growing and encouraging one another…living the Kingdom life in the context of our community. We meet on Tuesday night and Sunday nights (alternate weeks) to gather and pray, share our lives, learn, worship and exhort one another in being whom Jesus calls us to be. That community journey has been a breath of fresh air to my soul after years in institutional religion. NOT TO SAY THAT THE OLD PARADIGM IS WRONG OR BAD (comment made for the benefit of my pals Nate and my son, Aaron)…I was in a time of my life where I needed and wanted to give some of my dreams a test drive and I discovered that I want to buy in to a new way of doing Kingdom. Now, I need a job…so I can either turn to Joe and Pam and say, "this is the way it worked for me in the past – people paid me to be their leader in Kingdom matters – open up your checkbook and it’s time to start that process OR I could join them in a bi-vocational lifestyle. In this snapshot, we all get our financial concerns in life addressed by jobs in the marketplace while still laboring together in the Kingdom vineyards utilizing our God-given giftedness and passions (living missionally). Well, as I said, God heard the rumblings of my spirit and heart…I got offered a full-time job today in the Funeral Industry that will give me a chance to not only continue my Adjunct teaching for APU and enable me to have our family’s bills paid but will open new doors for living for the Kingdom. Like I said at the outset, I asked for it! Now, change is in the wind. I would have NEVER EVER EVER guessed or anticipated walking into this new time of life…there was a time where I thought I would be on the church’s payroll for the rest of my life. Truth is, there MAY come a time where our community does get to a point where some one might be needed to organize and lead a more sizeable community…but at that point, IF the community wants to do that, it will be THEIR idea NOT my demand. Now at least, I can look Joe and Pam in the eye and KNOW what it looks like and "lives" like to be working in the "world" and living for the Kingdom…building relationships like every other person does…using my gifts and abilities in a servant’s manner where "church" expectations no longer exist and where Kingdom opportunities can come in fresh, new ways. Now, before I close this "dia-dribble", permit me to say "thanks" to those who fed this different mindset – in fact, let me say, "thanks alot!" to:
Sally and Roy Miller
Len, Alan, Mark, Rickard and the Allelon "gang"
My entire community and family (who will remain more or less nameless)
Trace and Becca Bundy
And a number of others (frankly, I don’t want to embarrass anybody else)
Each of these people had some say in how my heart and mind is being reshaped. I hold them responsible! I"m not going to link each name…too many peeps. Google them on your own! So, I’m entering the "change"…I asked for it! More to come…