Friday, April 10, 2015

Envy, Invisible Presents, Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed, and Akward Moments Pt. 4

I'm getting older.  I feel and look like I'm aging in dog years sometimes, which is totally not super.  However what is super is wisdom and the ability, desire to be more measured that comes with it.  I find that I'm far more selective in where and how I utilize my energies.  While I do admittedly enjoy playing the "Clubber Lang" role from time to time, I've come to recognize that it is rarely ever the most efficient and effective approach.  Sometimes folks, including myself, just need to be challenged and called out.  But to what ends?  What my team and I do is crazy, at times harrowing, almost always challenging, and without fail, fulfilling.  I am told that it is not for everyone, which I get at some level, except for the fact, that it actually is. (Darn the Bible and all of those challenging thoughts, commands, and ideas!!!)  But what does the Clubber approach really accomplish, aside from a few well placed appearances?  It usually causes people to retreat to the "Urban ministry has made him wild!  I mean, I'm glad he's there, but I'm also really glad that I'm not 'called' to that stuff."  And that's in the best of situations lol (On another note, I'm really feeling the need to strike 'urban ministry, missions, missional community, and missional church from my vocabulary.  It's redundant.  Just go be the Church.  That covers it.)  The worst of situations?  I might drive someone further away.  I also have a confession to make; I am really growing weary of being the "tough guy pastor".

To those ends, I think I and we, could be so much more effective if we would take on the role that Apollo takes on after Rocky is defeated by Clubber; as not only the voice calling to remember, but the committed presence, the one willing to walk alongside.  I love the scene where Apollo brings Rocky to his gym; it reminds me when my invitations are accepted to join me at Grace/Heathen Church.   It really is often a clash of cultures and life experiences.

But here's the thing, each and every time that another church, another youth group, another pastor steps into Grace/Heathen Church, no matter what sort of anxiety they bring with them; it all quickly melts away.  Something happens; something powerful.  The anxiety disappears, the fear vanishes, they settle in, and I daresay they begin to enjoy themselves.  One of my favorite things has been the conversations afterwards; they suddenly "get it".  And by "it" I don't just necessarily mean what we are doing at 900 Denmark St., but rather "it" in terms of the call placed on everyone that would call upon the name of Jesus.  I have yet to have a guest join us that was not profoundly moved...and changed.

The Church, at least in our North American context, has forgotten and maybe in some cases never really knew who we're supposed to be.  We get caught up in all manner of silliness; anything and everything oftentimes except that which we are supposed to be caught up in.  What if the Church remembered?  What if we really believed all the stuff we proclaim?  Which is ultimately I think what fuels us at Grace/Heathen Church.  We're crazy enough to actually, you know, to believe what we proclaim.  What if we left our ivory towers and quit worrying about the color of the carpet while we allow people in our community to suffer?  Better yet, what if we quit pretending that the people Jesus told us to love don't exist right outside our doors?  We have found a pretty profound slice of the Kingdom breaking into this world and we want to share it.

I see a transition taking place at least in my life and ministry.  Clubber is not the first tool out of the toolbox and maybe not even the second, third, or fourth.  Instead, I want myself, my team, and Grace/Heathen Church to be like Apollo.  To come alongside, to push, to invest, and to offer what we've got.  Well, you know, without the really awkward celebration at the end...and the cutoff tank top...oh and the tube socks.  I'm cool without that stuff lol  When we first started this crazy journey (Heathen Church), I wrote, "A bunch of heathens will make them remember and show them the way back."  I like that.  I would love nothing more than to make my and our uniqueness obsolete.  It would also be pretty super if we could make all of the incessant fights obsolete.  That we were united in, through, and around the invisible present becoming visible in our lives.