Five years ago when I was in Seminary, there was, as there is now, a growing anxiousness related to Church attendance. I was frustrated by the mantra—“We just have to get people through the doors.” I love to worship, to be in church, to belong to a family of faith, to be in community, and to be on mission together. Instead those words seemed forced, even though I know that was not the intention—the words come from a desire for folks to know and experience the love of Christ.
One verse that I go to often is Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasure of living with you forever.” (NLT) I felt a restlessness in figuring this out, my needed response and how to make space for what God wanted in our world and context today.
At Lake Junaluska during Annual Conference, I heard Elaine Heath speak, and, at that moment it seemed as the words were pointed to where I was sitting in the back left corner of the auditorium. I wanted to be involved in what she was describing and was grateful when asked to participate in the Launch & Lead program by our then District Superintendent, John Boggs. I had no idea what it lead to but I knew it would be an adventure. I enjoyed the gatherings and online classes, especially the ones related to fostering missional imagination and reading the Bible missionally.
Now serving at Haw Creek Commons/Bethesda UMC as community pastor has been a life giving gift as it combines my history as social worker, my experience as a coach, and my great joy to serve as a commissioned Elder within the United Methodist Church. We continue, as a team, to cultivate space that will invite the neighbors into community within a number of contexts. Oftentimes, I find myself in different places doing stuff I never expected to do.
In all the prayer and listening, I have risked various directions with the Spirit, some have worked out well, while other interactions would measure up as a failure in the eyes of the world. The Launch & Lead program has provided opportunity for learning, freedom to explore, and an ability to rest knowing God is in the midst. The curiosity to learn and be seems to best be lived out for me in various forms of groups, teams, and gatherings. I love to lead worship and to be in various arenas of community to learn the meaningful ways of life and the love of God.