What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do — Old Dogs and New Tricks!

For me 2014 brought the proverbial fork in the road. With a resume chalked full of 35 years of ministry gigs in large and varied church settings, from traditional to super hipster — I was struggling with the oft quoted definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. For me something had to give!

In balancing contrast, Eugene Peterson the author of The Message Bible, speaks of  spiritual transformation in terms of a “long obedience in the same direction” which I completely resonate with! The seemingly incongruence of these two (insanity and obedience) doesn’t so much center on the persistence piece — but the focus of our efforts. 

I often wonder as church folk if we get our eyes more on generating people in the pews and lose sight of revealing the person of Christ in our communities. As a young Student Minister I served in a high pressure numbers producing church. It left some of us student ministers on staff musing on writing a book of “A Thousand Gifts, Gags, and Gimmicks to Get Kids to Church”! But is that what we’re called to be about, merely putting butts in the seats as one well meaning church leader once spelled out my role?

For me this 2014 liminal space, what to do when you don’t know what to do — brought about a vocational renaissance and a personal and spiritual renewal. Come to find out, sure enough you can teach old dogs new tricks! 

I began to pray, read and learn about the life rhythms and forgotten ways of Jesus which author and Forge America Co-Founder Alan Hirsch talks about in his paradigm shifting book The Forgotten Ways. I dusted off teachings like those of South African missiologist David Bosch who wrote:  Mission is more than and different from recruitment to our brand of religion; it is the alerting of people to the universal reign of God through Christ.

I began to journey on the road less traveled. I took more seriously learning the ways of Jesus. My tool kit more focused on what it looked like to be a missionary and a good neighbor and less about what it looked like merely being a member of church or only inviting people to church. I began to build friendships with my neighbors and invest my influence in my community.

Re-tooling in your 50’s is not for the timid! Many of our past rhythms have now changed. And in this revitalized season of life, re-learning the ways of Jesus has afforded us the opportunity of experiencing new and fresh spiritual happenings and celebrations. In fact, more so than any other season of life. Weird right?

Case in point, this week we celebrated National Neighborhood Night Out with our neighbors who have become some of our best friends. As we shared conversation, food, and friendship we felt grateful for our neighborhood bonds. True, we are all in different places in our view and understanding of what a spiritual life and God is all about. And that’s the beauty of doing life together. We don’t feel rushed to invite our neighbors to some spiritual gathering. We recognize we are experiencing a spiritual gathering in each conversation. Our natural role and rhythm is to simply live out the ways of Jesus. For us this way of life is freeing and life giving!

Early in our journey, when we didn’t know what to do, it was new friends like Brad Brisco who along with his family were living as missional practitioners in their Kansas City suburb. We listened, we read, we learned from their example of what it looks like to engage the kingdom of God in the places we live, work and play. It gave us hope and direction!

Tomorrow morning (Saturday, October 6th) Brad will be in Frisco at Preston Trail Community Church. He will be sharing his continuing journey of living the rhythms of Jesus via his new book Re-Think. I’d like to invite you to this morning of inspiring stories and learning how you might begin your own missional journey. For more information or to register click the below link or hit me up and I’d love to chat! 

https://live-work-play.eventbrite.com

Live humbly and kind,

Jim

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