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The Princess Bride

This is how we should look, not the movie poster version.

This is how we should look, not the movie poster version.

Westley

Hear this now: I will always come for you.

Buttercup

But how can you be sure?

Westley

This is true love – you think this happens every day?

What do we learn from this experience I spoke to in part 1? How do we move forward? What can we do for the city of Austin? How can we continue to have our ear to the ground to listen more than we talk?

kansas fence hdrI’m realizing that we (the churches in Austin) need each other, we need the people of Austin, and the people of Austin need us. We must learn to love and be loved. This must start with little churches like mine Journey Imperfect Faith Community teaming with mega-churches like Austin Stone, Gateway, et al to provide resources and contacts to the larger community of Austin in times of great need. But the mega churches need little churches like ours and little churches that minister to those who live in the margins, who are adept at embracing the other and can be counter cultural because that is our very essence. But we must be willing to listen to each other and to get over ourselves…That is the hardest part!

My friend Bob does a great job of expanding on the latest findings from Jim Collins by reflecting on the disconnect many churches are encountering:

Collins‘ primary focus is the business world, so his data is actually less severe than if he had looked at how the mighty in churchianity have fallen.  How the Catholic leadership discounted stories of abuse – how mega churches have gorged on a diet of more, more, more – how old school mainliners search for “saviors” and so quickly discards them.  American churchianity is premised of success – we are the new Israel, our faith can kick your faith’s butt, our Jesus is the CEO, your Jesus is the slave labor. http://thecorner.typepad.com/bc/2009/05/after-the-mighty-fall-in-sure-and-certain-hope.html

Granted, I don’t have a pony in this race. I’m not a professional in the church, so I don’t worry about turf wars, theology, or putting butts in the pew. I propose we drop all the bullshit posturing, the desire to one up each other. I know this attitude is met with some healthy skepticism by many religious leaders, but once again I’m just a regular guy trying to help the city I love. My nature is to be the “healer”, the one who wants to fix what is broken.

their great passion is to heal the conflicts that trouble individuals, or that divide groups, and thus to bring wholeness, or health, to themselves, their loved ones, and their community.

Healers have a profound sense of idealism that comes from a strong personal sense of right and wrong. They conceive of the world as an ethical, honorable place, full of wondrous possibilities and potential goods. –from Keirsey.com

Belonging is powerful…
I belong to you, and you to me.
It just is…

Phyllis Tickle talks about the paradigm of family versus church and how as a family the kids don’t have a choice about to whom they belong. They just belong…

I teach high school kids how to make movies, and let me tell you they do not want to hear your version of how to do it. They must feel it, touch it, experience it for themselves. They don’t consume media, they produce it. Of course, I have to teach them the basics of making movies, there is a language and a set of skills they must practice, however, this is only a means to an end…to make a movie. Before they can start learning the language and practicing the skills they have to understand that they belong to me and I to them. We spend time together by exploring their motivations, their passion for movies. Only then can we begin to work on behaviors that will help them make movies. Of course we will have our fights and our disagreements, but for the next 10 months we belong to each other. This is not a choice (unless they drop my class) and so we must learn to live together.

The people of Austin, regardless of faith (or lack of faith) belong to us and we to them. The sooner we realize and embrace this city without agenda, without something to sell, the better off WE will be for this type of relationship.

Shane Claiborne makes a bold claim that is I think easy to misinterpret.

“Stop explaining/complaining about the church we have experienced and work at becoming the church we dream of. We need to be relevant to the big questions of the day while retaining our cultural peculiarity. Fascinate the world with grace!”

We in the church world would most likely respond to this by talking about the unique truth of Jesus as our cultural peculiarity. I would respond that people are not looking for a truth statement, a 5 point step plan to heaven. They have encountered this particular form of ‘peculiarity’ in the western church and it is a deal breaker. They don’t want to enter the ‘Visitor Center’ as my friend pastor Kes states, they’ve been there before and say, “No thanks my friend, been there done that. It’s not for me.”


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