Certain things conspire to keep the lowly church planter humble...
There's the weekends when it seems like everyone goes out of town, the offering ends up being $231 and you drive home mumbling "Stupid, stupid...Stupid!" like Chris Farley because of the dumb thing you said in the middle of the sermon... (sometimes me)
Or there's the time you walk up to someone in your community who's sitting with a nice lady and ask "Is this your mom?" only to be told that, no... This, is in fact, my girlfriend. D'oh. (Uh... not me. But someone I know!)
The thing God is using to keep me humble right now is our latest Theology Pub.
I do these discussion groups every once in awhile as a means (not the means, but a means) of theological education in our community.
We meet in a pub because it's way more accesible for new people than someone's living room, there's food (and people comong right from work need that), and I like the public presence aspect of it... Slowly getting to know wait staff, etc. Last night I watched a women at the table next to us listen to our entire discussion about the deity of Christ. I didn't get the vibe that she wanted to join, but she was definitely listening.
Anyway, the humilty part for me comes in teaching one for the first time. We did an "On-ramp" series last year- 6 discussions on basic Christian belief- God, Jesus, the Gospel, Church, etc... The second and third time I ran it it went well. The first?
It seems like with new material you have to run through it at least once in an actual teaching situation just to break it, and yourself, in. Going through the discussions at least once not only familiarizes you with the stuff, but let's you know which parts of the discussion, the readings, have special resonance, which don't, which parts need to be emphasized, which can be sped over, etc...
So now I'm doing a "Middle Lane" kind of thing talking about Christology, and yeah... first time through and it feels rough to me.
And not just the discussion either.
I love to do these at the Fulton Pub, outside on their back patio under the big tree. Last year, it got a little cold, we needed to use the big propane heaters a couple of times so this year, I moved it up a bit farther into september figuring that with our indian summers here, we'd be good.
Seems as though we've skipped Fall and gone straight to winter because yesterday it was cold, there were torrential downpours and even hail at diferent places around town.
By the early evening, though, it seemed like the rain might go away, might come again another day... So I gamely took up my spot outside, under the tree. "Winter" had caught them by surprise to= no propane for the heaters.
I lasted about 20 minutes (doing reading before everyone came) and then felt the first drops. Within a minute or two, it was like God had reconsidered the whole "Never flood the earth again" thing. You wonder how [i]that[/i] much water could possibly be suspended in the sky, and then you wonder why it had to come down during the one, one-and-a-half-hour window of the week when you need to sit outside.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that it was too loud and crowded inside, we tried a table out front, but it started raining like the days of Noah again, and so we reluctantly moved to someplace with a bit less Pipe and Beer Theology atmosphere., someplace close.. the Spaghetti Factory. Yeah, Instead of Theology Pub, last night we had Theology Spag Fac.
Keepin' me humble. :)
I think what I might do in the future, in developing new groups and lines of discussion is grab some people, some elders, some future elders, some theology fans in our community and run through the discussions once without opening it up to everyone. I can see multiple benefits in doing that- connecting with and teaching leaders, getting good feedback from them, not subjecting people who are new to Christ or to our community to my fumblings...