Tuesday, September 02, 2003

How'd you get here, dude?

This process began in the summer of '97. I was growing increasingly frustrated with church as usual. On our way back from the Outer Banks and 2 weeks of vacation Lilly (my wife of 18 years) and I read Jimmy Long's "Generating Hope". We both said that this was more us, and began to slowly realize that lots of other folks were thinking the same thoughts and having the same frustrations with normal church. And then we began to meet people (that's how this always works) who had different pieces of the puzzle or Jenga pieces we needed.

Lilly took a position at Christ Church in Glendale, Ohio in the summer of '98. It is an Episcopal church which gave her freedom and a budget to pursue the stuff we were being exposed to. Initally it was Jonny Baker from Grace in London, and then Dan Slater from Warehouse in Chichester, UK. While doing kids ministry stuff she met Dan and Jonny in January of 2000 at a Group convention, and that's when we began to really accelerate our experiences and learning. Then the first big wave hit in November of 2000. Lilly went to the Youth Specialties Conference in Cincinnati and to an 8 hour course on Post Modernism and its affect on youth ministry. The teachers? Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle and Chris Seay from Ecclesia in Houston. I didn't go, but I got the tapes! I listened to them over and over. Finally somebody was able to verbalize everything I could feel, and explain why church, discipleship, and ministry as usual wasn't working anymore. And of couse nobody from the "church as usual" where I worked was interested in this at all. Funny how that works. They're still not interested. Oh well.

If you know anything about Chris or Mark then you know why they fit so well with me. They held nothing back. They said the truth as they saw it. It was fantastic. And since youth ministry is the pretense where much of the info on societal change shows up first, youth books like Tony Jones' "Post Modern Youth Ministry" really helped. So the pump was primed. Then in may of 2001 I went to Seattle to hear Todd Hunter and Brian McLaren (BMAC!) at an "Off The Map" conference. Another piece. Learning about Vampires and the power of simple organic, friendship. Brian and Todd were just what I needed.

For much of this time, let's say from '97 through spring of 2001 Lilly was the primary change agent for most of this. I was just workin'. She'd bring stuff home and I'd look at it when she was through. I'd been getting info first for a long time and was happy to just see where she was going. It paid off. In January of 2002 lilly went to the Emergent Theological conversation in Houston, sponsored by Ecclesia. Lilly got to meet lots of the Senior Fellows of Emergent. That really broke open the flood. We'd found people who we could be friends with, and share their journeys as well as ours. And most of their stories were longer and involved with starting real ministries which espoused these new values.

Then in May of 2002 I went alone to Seed Stories, sponsored by The Ooze in California. Spencer Burke, Todd Hunter (he shows up alot doesn't he?), and Doug Pagitt for 3 days with about 20 church planters. Wow! It was awesome. Each one of those people added to my journey, and Spencer,Todd, and Doug each had a Jenga stick. Cool. Then 2 weeks later I went to Search Party in St. Louis. All the same crew were there plus Andrew Jones, another Jenga stick holder.

Then in October of 2002 we went to Soularize in Minneapolis. Lilly and I went together. It was weird, wonderful and (yes, Shrek) it peeled off more layers.

More on the last 12 months tomorrow.


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