I've been thinking through issues of spiritual formation recently... mainly in terms of how we do whatever it is we do as a community, and the forming impact it has on us. Whatever we do is spiritually forming, isn't it? The choices we make, the activities we pursue or neglect, the words we say and how we say them- all of it goes into making us the persons we are becoming and the community we will be...
So my question (which honestly, I've been thinking about on and off throughout the last four years, thanks in part to both Doug Pagitt and his formerly titled Re-Imagining Spiritual Formation and Brian McLaren who was the first person to to tell me that the way we as a community worshiped was just as spiritually forming as the fact that we did worship) has been: "how do our choices as a community impact the community we are becoming?" And I've started with thinking through our worship gathering, simply because that's the easiest piece to consider and make changes- how does our use (or lack thereof) of silence form us? How does the amount we pray together and what we pray form us? What about the interaction we do and how we do it? Does the way we do "sermons" form us just as much as the content of the discussions themselves?
But this post isn't really about that...
On a personal level I've been dealing with two things. The first is a certain amount of satisfaction and pleasure that the vision I had more than a year ago, was able to transfer to our elders and then to our community of our need to move towards multiple gatherings in multiple spaces is coming to fruition.
The second is a certain amount of trepidation and insecurity about the same thing.
And man, doesn't insecurity work itself out in silly ways?
Yesterday, I found myself thinking about editing the titles under our bios on the evergreen webpage. Right now, we're all listed as "elder." That's it.
So there I am thinking about the fact that our Hawthorne worship gathering starts this week, and with it comes an era where people who come to evergreen might only see "Pastor Bob" on occasion. To them, it'll be Dustin and Chip and Tina...
The words "Bob thinks..." won't carry a ton of weight with these future evergreeners.
So, I'm mulling this over and the idea pops into my head to edit those titles.
After all, I'm the "Lead Pastor," right?
People should know that, yeah?
Whether or not people should know that, I knew (after a few minutes, anyway) where that was coming from and what it was motivated by. Even now, I'm tempted to delete this entry and go make the changes my ego wants me to make...
But the truth is, I fear what giving those impulses free reign in my heart will do to me and form in me more than I do whatever potential future confusion might arise among Evergreeners as to my pastoral role in their lives.
To me, the choice to either find a location where we can fit more and more people into a room to hear me teach, or move to Video Venues (for the same reason) or to allow other people in our community to exercise their teaching gifts on a level of exposure equal to myself is a choice which impacts not just the spiritual formation of our community, but my own as well.
The question isn't just what kind of community will we be, but what kind of leader... no, scratch that... what kind of Christ-follower will I be?
Maybe for others that feels like a false choice. Maybe they can move their teaching onto countless video screens with no detrimental impact to their souls.... and I say that honestly. They have their own walk with Jesus and I'm not judging their hearts in the directions they are taking their communities (okay- I'm trying not to).
But for me?
The choice to allow parts of our community to move to a different space, to sit primarily under the pastoral care and teaching of different elders, not to remind them in real and tangible ways constantly of my role in the community...
It feels like something that Jesus is working out in me.
And in amongst the insecurity and anxiety I realize that again, as when we planted Evergreen four years ago, this is is a step of faith (I generally avoid that phrase, as abused as it has been in evangelicalism)- a move into something that we feel God pushing us towards, something whose end we can't see, something that God probably intends to use in ways we can only guess at.
And as someone who feels like it's been about four years since he had to take any real significant leaps of faith, as I watch what this move is forming in our community and as I see what it's forming in me...
I'm thankful to Jesus.
Thankful that He's still forming me.
Thankful that He's giving me opportunities to form myself through the choices I make in pastoral ministry and in life.