What’s NEXT: Almost Parting Thoughts
The NEXT 2014 conference was centered on three words: Lead / Create / Discern. However, the three words I moved through in that time were: Awe / Inadequacy / Humbled.
There are so many great ideas, leaders, conversations that I was awed by the creativity. I could not help but imagine God looking down on creation again, and again, and again and thinking, “It is good.” In a conversation that could have been about all that was wrong, it was instead about all that goodness, the opportunities. The combined generative creativity was awe inspiring. There was not denial here about the death in the life of what it has and does mean to be church. But that wasn’t the word that was made flesh. It was not not-true that the church is dying, but it also was not true. Is not true.
I can’t help it. I feel so very ordinary, uncreative, and yes – inadequate – next to all these innovative leaders and passionate followers. Don’t rush in to console me please. I know I have gifts too – I’m not completely unqualified for the calling to which I have been called. I will be challenged by this, and I will find a way to grab hold of something – or something will grab hold of me – in a way authentic to who I am and who my community is, God knows what God is doing. But I guess what I mean to say is…
I feel humbled when I’m surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, a chorus of dedicated and loving people. I look around and think: the church is in very good hands and to anyone who thinks this tomb is empty… or that it is even a tomb. I say ‘stand back’ because some abundant life is going to trample all over that doom and gloom. I am humbled like the Psalmist who utters, “who am I that you are mindful of me.” And even while we are talking about the church that is next… what struck me was how much this church is right now. Springing up. Something new. Seeking the welfare of the city. Exile? It never looked so good.
And then this happened… in a service of prayer little slips of paper full of all our fears were read out loud. And I realized I’m no more afraid, no more attentive to my own inadequacy, no more paralyzed by the sense of what might happen if I fail big in a place that doesn’t seem like it can handle one more failure than everyone else in this room. We are humbled by each other, united by fears, and led to hope. That was the final word. Hope. I found this most strongly in our weakest moment when I felt united by our fears, and convicted by the sense that all of that fear wasn’t holding the Spirit of God back from leading us. Not. One. Bit. I’m ready for what’s next, are you?