I got the opportunity to both teach and learn last week at a church planters bootcamp with the Ecclesia network.
The bootcamp was held in Richmond VA, in a former convent that is now an intentional, ecumenical Christian community on a hill in the center of RIchmond. As the order that founded the place moved out (due to dwindling numbers), and the prospect of commercial development loomed, an Episcopal priest named Ben Campbell had a dream that the place would remain a center of prayer for the city of Richmond. Long story short, it is now a beautiful retreat center, residential community for pilgrims, and a place dedicated to prayer for the city at least 3 times daily.
Some random thoughts...
I loved the rhythm of prayer- joining others at 7am, 12 pm and 5pm to pray, read Scripture, be quiet- even if only for fifteen minutes was very grounding for me. Though I felt a bit disconnected from the prayers (both in that the people and regions, elected officials and such they were praying for were largely unfamiliar to me, and in that I think after many years of doing this, the prayer lacks a certain... zest? fervency?... the practice and rhythm was still wonderful to be a part of. I felt "brought back" each time we engaged in it and connected to those around me.
It made me think of ways I can be praying for our city and ways I can hopefully pull others someday into the same rhythms. Good stuff.
I got to teach on "Why You Should Plant a Church" something I feel confident in, and "Creating a Culture of Discipleship" something I'm very much a learner in. Both went reasonably well- I basically took my Why You Should Plant a Church article and expanded it into a talk- which I know was probably odd for those there who had already read it (in fact, a couple told me reading it had been a significant step/piece in their journey towards church planting- always encouraging to hear how God has used your words...).
The discipleship talk was mostly me sharing what I've been learning over the last couple of years- that discipleship is mainly about one thing- helping people hear God's voice and respond appropriately. All the rest (doctrine, disciplines, service) will find a spot to enter the conversation as God brings those things up- but the main question is: Where are you hearing God's voice? Where are you sensing God's kingdom pushing in on you... or pulling you towards something? And how can I help you with that?
I missed my family terribly, but time away, time thinking/evaluating/dreaming, time praying, and time resting is always valuable.
I hope they invite me back :)
For those interested: The Ecclesia Network is a gospel-centered, theologically centrist network committed to planting missional communities. I feel very much this is Evergreen's "tribe" in that they talk a lot about Jesus and the Gospel, tend to look and feel more emerging church-ish, and they welcome communities with women in leadership.
In other words, if you want to align yourself with a network that sits squarely in the center of the "missional" stream of the emerging church conversation, check out the Ecclesia Network.