Discipleship

Reservoir Leadership Track

2020 was destined to be a year of growth and deeper roots for our little suburban church. Our leadership had claimed the theme of “Building Together” as we felt that coming through years of transition and replanting we were poised to spring ahead in many ways. Individual ownership of the church was increasing, meaning people were stepping up to do the work of ministry, and our identity had seemingly formed around the preaching of the gospel and living in response to the grace of Christ.

Then the pandemic began seven months of disruption in every category of life, environmental, political, spiritual, and others. So the momentum met its end. The growth became a tension of keeping who was committed. Building together transitioned to a desire to just be together.

While we still face the pandemic realities among the good decisions we made was to launch our leadership track anyway. It was designed to be a vital six-month cohort for learning and formation around the vision of the church as the elders set a priority to equip and release more leaders at Reservoir. The first round was to be undertaken by the elders so there were already formed relationships making it easy to execute.

For sixth months (so far) we have read, written about, and discussed material in four key books. One to establish the need to pursue the inner health of our souls (David Benner’s The Gift of Being Yourself). One to present a vision for how the body of believers could live Kingdom lives together (John Tyson’s A Creative Minority). Another to give us a framework for the life of the church, especially as one desiring to be multiplied (Alan Frow’s Broken for Blessing.) And a fourth to stir the hunger in us for renewal among us and the people of our church (Mark Sayer’s Reappearing Church). Every week we have a video meeting to discuss what we are learning and where we are heading. We have laughed, struggled through concepts, and prayed fervently for one another and the church.

We have missed out on some of the planned family meals meant to go along with the Leadership Track but I have found our time to be greatly encouraging and aligning for the elders. I don’t think I have known a time when we were as united as we are now and we have a rooted honestly that has strengthened our relationships.

Scott, Bill, and John have sharpened me and I think they would agree our time in these books and conversation with one another has been fruitful. It has truly been one of the bright things in the church sustaining a tired pastor!

We are looking forward to rolling out the Leadership Track to others in the church, when we get a bit further along in this disruptive season. As we do I am sure others will find the time just as valuable and worthwhile. It turns out we really are building together and what is forming is exciting.

Discipleship

A Hawkish Shepherding Metaphor

This morning I was reflecting on what a good time of prayer and Bible reading I had. It shaped my mood and freed me to love my kids well as we prepared for the day.

Then, as I made lunches for the little ones, a hawk lands on our patio outside the kitchen window with a Eurasian Ringed Dove in its talons.

You expect our hawks to be after vermin, the mice and rats going from the fields to the fruit trees. But here a hawk decided on a heartier meal for the morning. Perhaps the dove was hunted because it was sick and already weak, already vulnerable to attack.

I made eye contact with the hawk (its a thing) as I yelled through the window for it go away, essentially saying “not today hawk! Not it my yard!” Quickly then I ran outside and came upon not only the hawk but two crows vying for the dove. They fled at my presence and the dove shook off the attack and flew ten feet to our fence. There he rested but we noticed that blood was dripping on the fence and ground. He was wounded and losing a lot of blood for a small bird.

Now I know this won’t land me any invites to hunting trips but you have to know that I prayed for the bird, very specifically that Jesus would stop the bleeding. I attempted my best Dr. Doolittle voice and told the dove he was welcome to stay and rest as long as he needed.

He stayed on that fence for well over thirty minutes… as the hawk stayed in a nearby tree waiting… hoping for another chance at the prize. Our family left for school out of the front door as to not disturb the dove and we prayed and hoped for the best.

When I returned from walking to school the dove was gone from the fence but the evidence of the ordeal remained. I think he was on the power line across the street, hopefully gaining strength. He will still die, someday. But not in my yard, under my “care.”

Thinking of this wild experience I can’t help but think of shepherding in the church. The call to protect one another and specifically how the elders of the church are to keep watch for the hawks and protect the doves. Or wolves and sheep if you prefer.

The key is that we don’t befriend the hawks but get in their way. We stay close enough to the doves that we can proclaim truth where lies fester. Where we can minister with our presence and time. Where we can pray for healing and care for them. Blood may be drawn but we are stubborn to say that no one will die in our yard.

Of course our strength for this work, for the call of shepherding comes from outside of us. Because the good shepherd witnessed the hawk of darkness with talons deep in his prey. But instead of shooing him away to wait for another kill, our shepherd, Jesus gave himself in the place of the doves, in our place. The hawk drove his talons deep, blood was drawn and poured out to death. But that death is a victory. Because the hawk is forever defeated. His talons no longer have power over the flock of Christ.

So on we go, looking out, protecting, restoring and caring for those we are called to in the name and power of Jesus.

Find yourself these kind of shepherds. Join this kind of flock.

Worthwhile

Worthwhile November 15, 2019

The calendar pages keep turning (unless you have a calendar on your phone then you have no idea what that means). Here we are approaching Thanksgiving, at war with our family and friends over how soon is too soon when it comes to decorating for Christmas and playing the appropriate music for the occasion.

Leaving all that alone, below are some worthwhile bits to check in on as you saunter into the weekend.


As our elder team has started to evaulate ourselves, and I have been thinking through how to lead and form the right team to lead the church into the next season, this bit from Seth Godin has me thinking.

Allies and accomplices.

To be an ally means that you won’t get in the way, and, if you are able to, you’ll try to help.

To become an accomplice, though, means that you’ve risked something, sacrificed something and put yourself on the hook as well.

We need more allies, in all the work we do. Allies can open doors and help us feel a lot less alone.

But finding an accomplice–that’s an extraordinary leap forward.

I have plenty of allies and now I am on the lookout for accomplices.

Read the two paragraphs I haven’t quoted here.


Next up, John Starke’s occasional email newsletter was on point this week. It is on sleeping, or the lack thereof.

“Sleep is a gift. It really is. You can’t make yourself sleep, you can only receive it. I have to put myself on my side and wait for God to give this gift that comes only because he loves me. When that happens an exchange occurs that I neither witness nor oversee: he takes my cares and exchanges them for rest. If only for a little while.”

We all need more of it. Before the lightbulb was invented we slept on average 11 hours a night. Let’s get some of that back! Starke gives a good perspective here and you should check it out.


In the vane of church leadership and being healthy, Faithfully Magazine has launched a series on multicultural churches.

Turns out, a multicultural church is not something you can checklist your way to, but it is something you become when your team is healthy and thinking rightly about the essence of the church.

“…every member of the core leadership team must believe that diversity is God’s desire for the Church universal and the guiding principle for the local congregation. Every aspect of the church’s ministry must be conceived and planned with this in mind, including hiring and leadership development, outreach and missions, discipleship and spiritual formation, preaching, teaching, worship, and fellowship. Leaders must understand this and have a passionate and proven interest in learning about and working across cultures.”

It begins with leadership.

And that is just the first order of things… Read what Chanequa Walker-Barnes has to say here. And let’s have more multicultural churches!


Lastly, around Christian social media a meme has been popular this week. “I can do all things through Christ… But you don’t go to church when it rains.” This is funny, but extra because in San Diego it never rains and people freak out when it does, undoubtably keeping some from the community of believers.

To stir our thinking on not forsaking to meet together, Tim Arndt has written a list of 28 biblical reasons why you should go to church. Read up, set your alarm, and we will see you Sunday!

It also wouldn’t hurt if you came to any midweek services, small groups, or Bible studies!


There you have it. Enjoy the weekend. Laugh when you can. Let the tears flow when needed. Hug someone a second longer than you usually would. And go to church!

I have spoken.