What does Christian Community look like? Well, one of the most vibrant, real, honest and growth producing communities I have ever been a part of looks something like this. When I was serving as a pastor in MA there was a small group of pastors who made the decision to get together once a month for the sole purpose of talking about our personal spiritual lives. You may be thinking…isn’t that what pastors do all the time? Honestly it is one of the hardest things pastors ever do. Ask them about their church…they talk for hours. Ask a question about the new program, ministry plan or church growth initiative and they are off to the races. Ask about the latest book they have read and you better be ready to sit and listen for a while. Ask, “How have you experienced the presence of God in your life the past month?” or “How are you personally doing as you seek to grow in your relationship with God?” Well, the room can grow very quiet…very quickly.
This group of guys along with a few others made a very conscious decision to set aside one afternoon each month to get together for the sole purpose of building community and asking, “How are you doing in your pursuit of deeper, growing relationship with God?” There were times of laughter, tears, argument, questioning and above all there was honesty…a brutal honesty that made our time together special. We hired Kit to serve as our spiritual director to help guide our times. His work was not easy. Providing spiritual direction to a bunch of pastors is a lot like herding cats. He never gave up on us and in the end helped us grow in our relationship with God and each other.
When these guys found out I had Cancer their question to Nancy was, “When can we come visit?” They drove down from MA. We had a special time Wednesday afternoon, catching up on life. It had been over eight years since we last sat down together but it was like all those years did not exist. Our time together felt as if we had met each month for the past eight years and had never been separated. There was a time of prayer and these men laid their hands upon me and prayed healing and blessing, strength and peace upon my life. They prayed for my family, for Nancy, Rayann and Joseph. They prayed for First Baptist of Kennett and for wisdom as we walked through this season.
We went out to dinner and we laughed as if I was not sick. We caught up on life. We shared stories from the past…some that probably should not be shared, especially in front of my daughter. 🙂 This morning we gathered for breakfast and once again it was like we had never been apart. It was good to see them.
I was reminded why every place I have gone over the past ten years I have tried to recreate this group. I have failed. There was no way to replace the hole that was left in my life when this community was no longer near me. They are special people. Each one for different reasons. “On paper” we probably do not belong together, we are an odd conglomeration of theology, life experience and ministry focus. Yet when we got together, got out of the way and allowed the Spirit to work and move in our lives God did something amazing and very special.
I will be searching for a “Band of Brothers” like this to walk with till the day Christ calls me home. Thanks for coming to encourage and lift me up. You can do it like nobody else!
When I was growing up there was one thing you could count on every year….like clock work…100% guaranteed. The Sunday night that The Sound of Music or the Wizard of Oz came on television mom was in charge! No sports, no Sunday night church (most of you will not grasp how big a deal that was)…nothing was going to get in the way of this family event. There were snacks, protests of “how many times do we have to watch this.” There may even have been a little sarcastic, less than flattering singing at different times…yes, I know how to solve a problem like Maria. Mom did not approve of the singing…which of course made it all the more fun. Looking back those were sacred, special times. If I see either one of those shows will be on television these days I call mom, just to make sure she knows…so Dad does not miss another opportunity to catch any new plot twists.
One of my favorite scenes in the Wizard of Oz is when the curtain is pulled back on “Oz the Great and Terrible” and he is left cowering, shouting into a microphone, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
I am going to share some things today that may be a little like pulling that curtain back on the Great Oz. Sometimes when we peek behind the curtain we learn things…I believe it is always good to know truth. Jesus thought so to. In John 8 he was speaking to some of his followers and said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So here goes… [Read more…]
Daniel has been a seeker his entire life, seeking a deeper relationship with Abba Father. He has served as pastor for American Baptist churches in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. His passion is to "help people encounter God in the midst of their everyday lives." He writes with a transparency intended to allow others to see the struggles that lead to healing and life. Daniel currently serves as Spiritual Formation Catalyst for A Place in the Conversation.
Daniel's journey was disrupted when the doctor said, "You have stage IV colon cancer." Questions of "Why" and "If only" crowded his mind. Can one encounter God in the midst of a cancer journey? Join this seeker as he shares the pain and joys of this journey not of his choosing. Daniel's wife, Nancy, joins in sharing some of her thoughts, and feelings as she watches her husband fight his battle.