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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dwelling in the Word: Little (houses)Conversations on the Prairie

I am at a Dwelling in the Word festival sponsored by Church Innovations Institute  What a great time!

We are sharing a lot of our experiences in Dwelling in the Word (Dwelling in the Word is a spiritual practice that Church Innovations has used to great effect over the past 25 years. They have a developed a Spirit-led, Christ-centered, God-encompassed patience over the years to listen strangers into the freedom of the gospel. Check them out on the link above.) Anyhow, we have folks from South Africa, the USA, Native Americans, India, England, Germany, Belgium, Norway, and probably more as I haven't had a chance to meet everybody. Everyone is jumping up to share a new insight or introduce a new friend. Great times!

I've been using Dwelling in the Word as a spiritual practice of my own for years, and we used it for our worship at Prairie Table Ministries in Bismarck, ND. I never realized just how much impact this way of being a congregation or a community can have on lives.Yeah, it may be good for me, but congregations learning how to deal with the after-effects of apartheid? Never occurred to me that God's Spirit might have something to say to them too. Talk about God being great!

But my own ignorance and limitations do not limit how exciting it is to be here.I am brought close to tears at hearing the stories people share about how talking together, sharing leadership, and trusting in the promise of God to transform despair into hope. For example, one lady from Norway shared how she learned to trust her people to be the people of God, and that led to her working on improving Christian-Islam relationships in Oslo.These are truly impressive leaders.

But here's what's funny: all of these leaders would say, "It's not me." Leader after leader has expressed how God did all the heavy lifting in the Dwelling sessions, and how the leader "just" listened and prayed. I wonder if we don't need to re-think what a leader is? I wonder if we need to see that leadership is not about having the answers, but about being patient enough to listen for God to speak and act through, in with, under, and maybe even against people?

Maybe leaders in the Christian world are not this  but rather this

 What if Christian leadership is not about leading people into to battle, but rather leading them into life? What if Christian leadership is not about sitting on a horse surrounded by an army, but rather sitting on the floor surrounded by the lame? A lot of what passes for Christian leadership these days is bullshit. It's misguided because it uses standards not set up by God in Christ in the power of the Spirit, but rather standards set up by the Marine Corps (like Robert's Rules of Order--the most un-Christian document ever!)

But what this Festival has witnessed to me is how many great Christian leaders there are out in the world, trying to make a difference, and not being too bothered by whether they look foolish or not.

And that not being bothered comes from a deep place, gentle reader. A deep trust in a God who keeps promises. A deep trust in a God who loves the world, and all the creatures in it. A deep trust that the Spirit is the best conduit for meaningful, hopeful, and loving relationships. Soon we will gather for dinner...and soon we will have conversations. Sounds like a good day to be on the prairie.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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