Monday, May 07, 2007

time for a check-up

Apparently, in the months following the birth of a baby, there are a series of check-ups that the infant must go through (I say "apparently" because its going to be another 7 months before Betsy and I know anything about that. KIDDING!) of the most important check-ups occurs when the baby is 3 months old.

Well Crossings, the faith community Betsy and I are apart of here in Knoxville, just met for our 13th week yesterday...which means we are now 3 months old. So, its time for our check-up. This past week we have spent a lot of time talking about the "DNA" of Crossings thus far. Who are we? What are we about? Are we staying true to what we believe God originally dreamed up within us?

On Saturday morning, we discussed this topic among our Leadership Community. Mark opened up the floor and asked people to start shouting out their answers. Some were only one word. Others needed a bit more explanation. I took notes through out the whole discussion, and I want to share those with you now. I'll explain why in a minute but first, here is what people had to say (note: some of these might not make sense out of context...sorry):

- acceptance
- real
- caring
- sense of humor
- energetic
- a focus on the positive (wins)
- Lutherans and girls can serve communion (equality/respect)
- purposeful with our wording
- inquisitive
- unity (connectedness)
- safe place
- a place where individual gifts are needed
- beehive (integrated & holistic)
- if we err, we err on the side of grace
- relaxed
- family
- we get the mission: helping people find their way back to God
- ownership
- right where we are supposed to be (numbers and beyond)
- foundation, foundation, foundation
- “the right word”/it would be dangerous to grow beyond our ability to care

It was a long discussion, and I realize that these notes are short and possibly even predictable. But the reason I wanted to share these with you is because there is theme among them that stuck out in a major way to me as I typed. I noticed it by about the third answer and as it continued I almost got teary-eyed.

Here it is: all of these characteristics have to do with...people. Not programs. Not an awesome service. Not a rocking band. Not great preaching. Not anything cool or hip or different. Just people.


I can not explain to you how much that meant to me. See, this past fall/winter one of the biggest items on my to-do list was to oversee the purchasing of all sound, lights and video equipment. We were purchasing everything from scratch and had a very substantial budget to work with.

Through out the whole process, however, I was having serious internal struggles. I kept thinking, "Wait...why do we need to buy anything? I have a projector, its crappy but it'll work. I've got a guitar and a laptop and some cables. Why do we need to spend so much money on this? Wouldn't we be better stewards to spend it elsewhere?" I was so afraid that we were going to be just another one of the churches trying to out do eachother with a bigger and better show. And I absolutely did not want that.

Even since we have launched I have sometimes doubted the whole thing, "What are we doing? Does any of this mean anything? Is it all just a waste of time, money and energy? What is the point?" Now, understand...most of my job, by far, as the worship and creative arts guy, is spent on planning and preparing stuff for Sunday mornings. But the things is, I don't think Sunday mornings are most important. Thus, I am constantly trying to balance these two realities.

The discussion on Saturday morning gave me just a glimpse that maybe what we are doing on Sundays does mean something. That maybe we aren't just a bunch of wanna-be rock stars in a Chris Tomlin cover band trying to do louder and edgier songs than the church down the street. That maybe all the time I spend on equipment and videos and creative planning actually is helping to get the message across.

The message that it is all about God and...people.

Now, I didn't say any of this Saturday morning. Mostly because I'm trying to be manly (you know with my beard and all) and I didn't want to start crying. Actually, I was overwhelmed and I didn't know how to word it. I'm not sure I do now. One of our leaders, Anyssa, did make this observation, "Everyone of these characteristics is something you can say about Jesus." I think that's true.

Granted, we are only 3 months in...but apparently it has a been a pretty good 3 months.