Thank you for The M25G!

Dear Restoration,

Thank you.  Thank you for all you have done to be ready for next week’s Matthew 25 Gathering.

I wanted to send a few notes as we enter the countdown to arrival.

  1. A HUMONGOUS thank you to Kathy Kenyon who has been coordinating all of our ‘on-site logistics’.  Thank you to the registration team, the housing team, the hospitality team, the make-sure-everything-is-in-the-welcome-bags team.  You all have been working for months and I am so very grateful.  I love your ideas and I can’t wait to see them implemented.
  2. Thank you to everyone who signed up to bring food, to give on-site hospitality, and to prayWe have a few slots left in each category if you would like to serve and have not signed up yet.  When I first introduced Restoration to The M25Gathering, I stated that,

    ‘We want to host the Gathering participants well.  We will do that through a smooth registration process, vigilant on-site hospitality, and gracious lodging.

    We are ready to do that because of how generously you have responded.  Thank you.  It really is overwhelming.

  3. If you signed up to be on the On-Site Prayer Team or if you would like to pray for the Gathering before it starts:  There will be a special, required training session this Sunday night, after the 5pm service, from 6:30-7:30 in the sanctuary.  If you are on the Prayer Team, we kindly ask that you prioritize this training and attend.
  4. You are invited to attend the Wednesday Night Plenary Session of the Gathering.  It will start at 7:00pm in the sanctuary.  Dr. Vincent Bacote of Wheaton College will present a lecture entitled, ‘A Courageous Public Witness’.  I can’t wait.  I hope that many of you will come and see a bit of The Gathering.  I think you will love it.  This is the only session that is open to the public.  All of the others require a ticket.
  5. If you have questions about the Gathering, we will be updating this page regularly with logistical information that participants and hosts will need.  So feel free to bookmark and come back to it.  You can also call or text the Restoration Clergy Pastoral Emergency Number (on the back of every worship guide) and get me, David, throughout the Gathering.   I will also respond to my normal phone number and you are welcome to use it.

Thank you friends.  I have so appreciated the opportunity to partner with you on this project.

-David

Rhythms of Spiritual Formation: winter

Winter

Winter

I loved starting our new series last week.  This metaphor of seasons as a means to describe the rhythms of spiritual formation has the potential to be so helpful for us.  I love the conversations in our church when we are vulnerable and trying to describe what God is doing in us.  Using the language of ‘seasons’ both allows us to be more descriptive of what is really going on AND it allows us to focus on the goal of our discipleship which is FRUIT and not mere activity.

For example, if I say ‘I am in summer’, it calls to mind a description of God’s work in my life that is much more textured than just, ‘I am fine.’

And if I remember that the work God wants to do in my life is compared to ‘fruit’, then I can be comfortable with the reality that sometimes there are periods of activity AND inactivity-  that all the seasons are necessary for fruit production.  We can’t have the harvest of fall without the inactivity of winter and the planting of spring.

This sermon series comes from the book, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan.  He writes about growth in a way that has helped me understand some of our apprehension and aversion towards winter:

We have adopted a view of the spiritual life and church growth that is a variation on free-market capitalism.  In capitalism, the economy, in order to be strong, must constantly grow.  A 3% shrinkage in the GDP for 2 or more quarters is a recession.  A 10% shrinkage is a depression.  Three percent.  Governments fly into panic, banks stock the moat, corporations start to implode.  It’s wolves.  It’s bubonic plague.  It’s the sky falling.

Where else is constant growth an unequivocal sign of health?  In human bodies, it’s a sign of obesity or cancer.  Yet we’ve applied the standard of constant growth to our churches and to our spiritual lives.  We applaud every sign of getting bigger, and fret every sign of getting smaller.

This is bizarre.

p. 221

It is good to pay attention to numbers and size and growth, but the Kingdom of God often gets measured with different criteria.  We can be always healthy and not always growing.  There are seasons of increase and seasons of quiet.  The Kingdom is different. 

Sometimes you are in winter.

And God is there too.

-David

Praying us into 2019

Praying for you

Every year in January, I take a few days away to pray and to listen.  As I left town on Tuesday this week, I told our staff team, “This is probably the single most important thing that I do as the rector of our church.  Thank you for helping me protect this time.”

Thank you for sending in your prayer longings.  I received well over 130 of them!  It was such a privilege to pray for you.  I loved how you answered the questions:  What brings you joy?  What are you seeking?  What makes you afraid?  The gift to me was the opportunity to get a glimpse into your heart, to hear what God is doing, to join you in the things for which you are longing.  I felt like I got to know each of you who shared a little bit more.  Thank you.  I am so grateful to be your pastor.

I made notes on themes and spent time each morning holding the different situations, struggles, and excitement before the Lord.  I listened for His voice.

I hope that Restoration will be a place:

  • that continues to offer the joy of encouraging relationship and deep friendship
  • that provides resources for those who are seeking-  resolution on doubts, more intimacy with Jesus, direction and calling, faithfulness, clarity on job and vocational direction
  • that comes alongside those who are afraid-  of losing family, losing friends, being lonely, feeling like a failure, being discovered as a fraud, of being overwhelmed by anxiety, of chronic and never-ceasing pain

Amen.  Let it be, Lord.  Joy.  Intimacy.  Hope.

Books

I tend to bring about 35 books with me and end up reading 2 or 3.  It’s hard to know what will connect with me while still in Arlington… so I bring everything that might pique my interest.

This time, I re-read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.  Gordon first wrote this in the early 1980s.  It is not earth-shattering in its insights, but I appreciate the connections between his life and mine.  It’s like reading my journal but written by someone else.  And at this stage in my life, my family, and our church, I needed to take some time to re-order and reflect and renew for the next season.  God met me in it.

Sermons

During this annual retreat, I ask God for a years worth of sermons.  I read through parts of the Bible.  I look through books.  I pray through your prayer requests.  I listen.  I imagine where we will be at various points during the year.  I wonder with God what would be good for our congregation to work on during those moments.  I make tables and spreadsheets and sit with calendars.

During the season of Epiphany (now until March 3), I am going to offer a series called ‘The Rhythm of Spiritual Formation’.  It was inspired by an excellent book I read last summer called, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan.  The premise of the book and my sermons is this:  God is always working to form us to look like Jesus, but sometimes the growth and change is not obvious.  We have seasons in our relationship with God just like the world experiences seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Each week the preacher will describe a season and then follow up with activities that are available to us in that season.  8 weeks.  2 weeks on each season.  I am praying that God uses it to give us understanding, patience, diligence, and trust in the process He is working in us.

The Matthew 25 Gathering

This year I had a unique and additional thing on my mind-  the Matthew 25 Gathering that Restoration is hosting in 5 weeks.  I spent an afternoon praying through the minute by minute schedule, praying for speakers, praying for people to register, and giving thanks for the dozens of Restoration volunteers who are making the Gathering happen.  Thank you.  This will be a gift to the wider church and I believe that God has a blessing for us in it as well.  I can’t wait.

Winter

Departure

In a couple hours I will load up my car and drive to the RestoMen’s retreat at Meadowkirk.  I have been alone for several days and I am excited to engage with these guys whom I love and enjoy so much.  I hope to see a lot of you there and the rest of you on Sunday as I introduce us to the winter of our spiritual formation.

Grace and Peace to you, beloved church.

David

Praying for you as 2019 begins

Dear Restoration,

Happy New Year!!

Each year, in January, I take a few days to pray for Restoration and to plan our year of preaching.  I look forward to this time to connect with God about you and what He is doing in our church.  This year it will happen from Jan 8-11.

I would be honored to pray for the needs and concerns that are most pressing to you.   Would you share them with me, here?  Thank you so much.  Your confidentiality is important and I will be the only one who sees these requests.  You have a choice to share them anonymously, but I prefer to pray for you by name.

This is the link where you can share your prayer request.

The form will close on January 8, 2019.  Please take a moment to respond, soon!

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was give you in Christ Jesus…”  1 Corinthians 1:4

See you on Sunday,
-David

DMH Advent 2018

Information about Oliver McNeil’s Funeral

Oliver's hands

It is with a heavy heart that I write to tell you of Oliver McNeil’s death on Wednesday, December 5.  He and his parents, Shannon and Matt, are loved by many in our church and on their behalf, I extend my deep thanks for all of the ways that you, their community, prayed for and served them over the last months while Oliver’s body was in decline.

Some of you may not have known Oliver.  He was 11 years old, a regular at the 11am service, a huge fan of the Washington Nationals, and he loved to have his shoulders squeezed when he came up for communion.  Here is a link to an old blog post that his mom, Shannon, wrote in 2011, several years before their daughter, Waverly, died (2015) and when Oliver was still quite young.  You may find Shannon’s blog helpful in getting to know a little about their story as a family.

A service of thanksgiving for his life will be held at McLean Bible Church (MBC), on the ground level of the Smith Center, on Saturday, December 15 at 11:00am.  MBC will have “funeral parking” signs to guide you as you turn onto the property from the stoplight on Rt 7.  There will be people greeting you as you enter.  You can find more detailed travel directions to MBC, here.

Everyone is invited to stay for a light lunch reception that will follow the funeral.  It is being provided by Oliver’s friends at Jill’s House.  In many ways Jill’s House became Oliver’s house too— a home away from home where he could enjoy life’s simple pleasures, have fun, and find rest in a context that cared for him.  Jill’s House, a 501(c)(3), offers respite to children with intellectual disabilities and their families in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.

Shannon and Matt have suggested that gifts to honor Oliver’s life be given to Jill’s House.  Please visit here, and include ‘Oliver McNeil’ in the comments section.  Or checks can be sent to:  Jill’s House, 9011 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182.

If you have questions about the funeral, you can call the Restoration office.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”  1 Thessalonians 4: 13-14
We do grieve.

But our grief is tethered to hope.
It does not overcome us.  On December 15 we will gather together to both grieve and to remind ourselves of our hope.  Thanks be to God for both.

-David

A 5pm Town Hall Conversation!

sunset Arlington

You are invited!  December 9 at 5pm

Dear Friends,

The 5pm service has always had a special spot in the life of Restoration.  The later time of day and the smaller size offer the possibility of a more intimate worship experience. 

We want to acknowledge that when we launched Incarnation, we sent some of our dear friends and many of our faithful, fellow, 5pm worship go-ers!  When a community chooses to change by multiplying itself in another part of the city, there is an opportunity to take stock and discuss ‘what could be’. 

The staff and clergy would like to have a ‘Town Hall’ meeting at the 5pm on Sunday, December 9.  We want to hear what this particular service means to you and how it is important to your worship of God and your experience of community at Restoration. We also want to hear what you would like the 5pm worship service to be.   

We love being Anglican and leading liturgy that requires ‘the work of the people’ in kneeling, praying out loud, singing, listening, eating, and drinking.  You are already participating in this liturgy by attending the service and many of you are already serving so that the rest of us can participate in the service.  THANK YOU!  There is an opportunity for more people to serve before, during, and after the liturgy.  We can’t do it without you.  So, we’ll be talking about that, too.

Would you mark December 9 on your calendar?  We will have our regular Advent liturgy.  When we get to the ‘sermon part’, we will take some time to talk about our hopes and dreams for the 5pm service, then we will close with Eucharist.  After the blessing, we will roll over to Sunrise Senior Living on Glebe Road to sing carols and hark the herald!

It will be a special evening and I hope to see you there.

-David 

The Matthew 25 Gathering

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 11.40.11 AM

Restoration,

A few years ago, a generous donor made a grant to our province, The Anglican Church in North America.  The purpose of the grant was to kick-start works of justice and mercy all over North America.  The vision was that Anglicans would become known as Full-Gospel People who proclaim the Good News of God’s rescue through His Son, Jesus and who serve the marginalized and vulnerable in acts of justice and mercy.  This grant became known as The Matthew 25 Initiative (M25i).

One of the first M25i grant recipients was Restoration Immigration Legal Aid.  This generous kick-start grant allowed RILA to hire their first staff person and to pursue the administrative requirements of becoming a new organization. We are so grateful for this grant and so grateful for the good work that RILA is doing.

Along with the grants, Archbishop Foley Beach asked if the province could host an annual gathering of Anglicans who are doing works of justice and mercy around North America. The first gathering was in Austin, the second was in Phoenix, and next year, we are hosting it here, at Restoration.

I am so excited that we have this opportunity to host The Matthew 25 Gathering! I want to answer a few questions about it and then make a BIG ASK.

When is it?  The Matthew 25 Gathering will be February 19-21, 2019.  It starts around 3pm on Tuesday and ends after Eucharist at 12:30pm on Thursday.  We will use every inch of our facility!

How many people are you expecting?  We are hoping that 100 people will attend.

What is the purpose of the Gathering?  We created it as an opportunity for Anglicans from across North America to network with each other, to share and learn best practices in the work they are doing, and to be renewed in their call to their vocation.  As you know, Restoration seeks to ‘refresh the workers’ in all of our outreach efforts and this is a very practical way that we can ‘refresh these workers’ who are serving the marginalized and vulnerable.

How will you refresh them?  The Gathering is structured around 4 plenary talks that will feature speakers talk about contemplative activism-  how can we grow deeper with Jesus as we serve?  We will also have 15 workshops that share best practices from people around our province.  In the middle of the Gathering, we will bus down to the Lincoln Memorial and prayer walk to the MLK memorial.  There is a ‘pre-Gathering’ retreat offering through our friends at Corhaven and a ‘post-Gathering’ tour of the Museum of the Bible and the National Museum of African American History.

Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 11.39.44 AMI am excited by the confluence of prayer in DC, prayer with our friends at Coracle, and prayer from people at Restoration.

Our church gets to serve and I can’t wait to join you in it.

So here is the BIG ASK.

We want to host the Gathering participants well.  We will do that through a smooth registration process, vigilant on-site hospitality, and gracious lodging.  In the future, we will offer opportunities to help with registration and logistics.  Right now, I am seeking people who want to offer gracious lodging.

Many of the participants do not have budgets for this type of an event.  One of the ways that we make it affordable is by providing them a free room and breakfast. Would you consider hosting some of these participants on Tuesday and Wednesday nights (Feb 19 and 20)?  We would love them to have their own bed, some breakfast, and a ride to and from the church.  We are seeking 30-40 spots.

Would you consider it?

When the Gathering was hosted in Austin, the church that provided this gracious lodging LOVED it.  They had breakfast with people from far away who were doing really cool work and were so appreciative of having a free place to sleep.  Their household was blessed and the participant was blessed.  I believe that can happen for us too!

If you are interested, please fill out the form below.  Kathy Kenyon is coordinating our gracious lodging and she will be in touch soon to talk about your situation.

Thank you so much,

David

 

Parish Meeting!

Parish Meeting

Restoration is a gathering of the body of Christ, a household of God, a community of broken people who are being restored by grace.

We worship together, pray together, serve together, and live life together.  It’s more than just a place to show up on a Sunday; it’s the messiness of real life.  When people are connecting to God and experiencing what it means to be loved, forgiven, healed, and empowered by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, church is happening.  And church is a foretaste of God’s Kingdom— a day when all that is broken will be healed, all that is incomplete will be made whole, all that is old will be made new.  A day of Restoration.

A few times a year we get together to talk about what God is doing in our church.  It’s a family meeting:

  • We check in about our resources (a financial update, opportunities to volunteer your time)
  • We celebrate what’s going well (we just launched a church plant!)
  • We anticipate what needs our attention (we are starting a visioning process).

We have one of these gatherings this Sunday, September 30 at 12:30pm…  right after the 11am service.

Food:  You always eat at a family meeting.  So we will have pizza and grapes and cookies.  Yum.

Childcare:  The kids need to know they are included but the adults need to be able to talk.  So after we eat pizza, we will provide childcare for kids and we need to know if your kids are coming.  Can you drop Louise a line?

Topics: Here’s where the conversation will go…

  • Restoration turns 10 in 2019!  We are creating a team of people to help us plan the celebration.  Do you enjoy hosting a party or helping folks to remember their joy?  Want to be on the team that is preparing for a grand celebration in the fall of 2019?  We’d love to get your name.  We will mark you as ‘interested‘.  And we’ll will be in touch.
  • Vision Night Recap:  Were you at Vision Night on September 6?  Wondering what was discussed?  We want to share things that we heard and update you on next steps.  Your input is so important to us as we look to where Restoration is headed over the next 7 years, Restoration 2025!
  • We ended our fiscal year strong in August.  We will give a financial update and show a slideshow from the first few weeks of our church plant, Incarnation.  We will talk about opportunities that are coming for discipleship, to engage our mortgage, and to visit our global outreach partners.

All of that in an hour!  Hope you can join us on Sunday.  Family meetings are fun!

-David

_________________________________________

This is what David shared concerning the vision night and follow-up questions:

Restoration Vision Night

a turn in the road

The Inflection of 2019

Restoration began almost ten years ago, in 2009, as a small group of 70 adults and kids who were aware of our brokenness, aware of our need for friendship, and thoughtful about how a new church community might be formed in Arlington County. 

During the summer of 2014, five years into our existence, we completed a brand new, $4.6M building.  While contractors were building our facility, our vestry and leaders were building a strategic plan that would guide the next 5 years of our life together.  We wanted to move back onto Quincy Street with a sense of urgency:  to serve our neighbors, to disciple people in their relationship with Jesus, and to plant churches.  We imagined that we might be a part of making 2000 disciples by the year 2019:  a thousand of them in our weekly worship and small groups around Quincy Street and a thousand through five church plants in the DC area and around the world.  It was a huge goal and it framed almost all of our subsequent conversations about plans, budgets, and ‘next steps’.  I am grateful for the leaders, volunteers, and staff who were willing to take it on.

We can now see 2019 on the near horizon.  It seemed so far in the distance when we first moved back into our building.  How did we do with our strategic plan?  What did God do in and through our church?  We are beginning to ask those evaluative questions.  The easiest place to start is the numbers.  We keep careful track and they are objective in their clarity. 

2014 Hope: We want to shepherd 1000 coherent, fully-integrated disciples in our facility on Quincy Street.

2018 Reality:  There are about 600 adults and children who worship on Quincy Street each Sunday. 

We had a significant jump in attendance in 2014 when we moved into our building.  From 2014 until today, our attendance has continued to grow but at a flatter rate:  from 507 to 580 over 4 years (about 5% growth rate annually).  We expect to be over 600 in 2019.  In addition, these increases represent the net change in people–  they mask the turnover of people coming and leaving at Restoration (which is over one hundred people annually).  As a result of this turnover, there are well over a thousand people who have worshiped and served with us in the last five years.  We thank God for everyone who continues to worship with us-  and for those who have come and left.  Based on our current reality, it seems unlikely that we will grow another 66% to 1,000 worshippers by 2019.

2014 Hope: We want to shepherd 1000 disciples through five 200 person church plants.

2018 Reality:  We have been involved in four church planting initiatives.  Are you aware of all of them?

  1. Incarnation Anglican Church is a church plant in the most traditional sense of the term.  Restoration identified and developed three leaders:  Rev. Liz Gray, Rev. Morgan Reed, and Amy Rowe.  We encouraged them to gather a launch team, to find a new worship location, to build the initial infrastructure that would support a new church community.  They have done that with excellence and skill.  On Sept 2 we will pray for their team of over 50 adults and children and send them out to establish this new work.  We are grateful for their courage, grateful for the generosity of Restoration to provide people and resources, and grateful to God for the opportunity to be a part of something new in South Arlington.  Incarnation is our first local church plant.  Thanks be to God.
  2. Phnomh Penh.  We sent Jesse and Sarah Blaine to Cambodia in 2012.  They have learned the language and made a home there.  Jesse did seminary from a distance and then was ordained by Bishop John Guernsey in 2016.  Jesse is the leader of a Khmer-speaking congregation and is hoping to plant another Khmer congregation in their city.  Restoration helped the Blaines to discern their call.  We have supported them financially and we have refreshed them with visiting teams from our church.  It has been a privilege to be a part of this new work in Cambodia.
  3. West Asia.  For about 3 years, Clay was on our staff team as a priest and Director of Youth Ministry.  In 2016, we sent him and his family to live in a strategic city in West Asia and to think about how to serve Christ and His Church.  They have learned the language.  They have made friends and put their kids in school.  Clay has been given the opportunity to take on leadership of a faithful church.  We have supported them financially and we are grateful to be a part of a steady work of God that is being regularly strengthened with new people and opportunities.
  4. Bolivia.  Over the last 4 years, Restoration has been sending a team of people to Cochabamba each summer to encourage the people of La Trinidad Anglican Church, to pray for and support the children of Niños con valor, and to teach on topics that help people grow closer to God.  As we have come alongside the leadership of La Trinidad, we have gotten the opportunity to support their church plant in the town of Puntiti.  It has been yet another way for Restoration to learn about church planting-  not by leading it ourselves, but by partnering with those who live there and offering whatever resources we have to the endeavor.

I submit that Restoration’s involvement in these 4 ministry initiatives happened BECAUSE we embraced a strategic plan that had a huge goal for church planting.  We were attuned to ideas that could become church plants.  We were full of prayer for brave initiatives to start new church communities.  The goal of five 200 person church plants served us well—  even though we fell short of the actual numbers.  

The strategic plan of 2000 disciples served us well:  We were ready for the growth that comes with a new building.  We were looking outward for opportunities to start new initiatives.

We are turning to a new chapter…

The leadership of Restoration is beginning to explore the opportunities that God is bringing to us for the years to come.  By the end of 2019, we would love to have a new strategic plan that would take us to Restoration 2025.  Here are some of the things we have identified as potential areas of focus.  There could be more.  I hope you will bring them to our Vision Night on September 6.

  1. Evangelism in Arlington County.  Inviting our friends and peers to consider a relationship with Jesus that makes a difference in their life.  We recognize that the opportunities around us for evangelism are huge.  There is so much misunderstanding about Jesus.  There are so many people living along Route 50, along the Orange Line, along Washington Boulevard, along Lee Highway…  As a church, we believe evangelism is important, but the activity of invitation has been a challenge for us.

  2. On November 22, 2019 we will turn 10!  We need to celebrate!  We need to party!  What would be an appropriate expression of gratitude to God for all he has done in our church?  What are the stories we need to tell?  Who are the people we need to remember and thank?
  3. We are completing our first local church plant launch.  We could do more.  There are other clergy who would like to join our staff as potential church planters or leaders in training.  What would be the location for the next church plant?  Who would be on the launch team?  How many more local church plants should we pursue?
  4. We want to help people grow deeper.  It’s not enough to just have bodies at Quincy Street, we want people to grow as coherent, fully-integrated disciples….  We are working to memorialize and clarify the communication about how our church grows disciples.  It has taken us a while to learn how we do what we do-  what are the programs and opportunities that have been most effective for disciple-making at Restoration?  What do we mean by ‘coherence’ and ‘integration’ in our Arlington context?  This fall we are excited to present a descriptive document called ‘Finding Your Place in God’s Story’.  It describes the traits of a coherent, fully-integrated disciple and it highlights the opportunities Restoration provides to help you grow in them.  We think it will be a help to people who are wanting to plug in to our community.
  5. We have a mortgage.  In our first capital campaign, we raised about half of the cost of our building. Our mortgage originally had a balance of $2.4 million, and we have paid about $0.5 million in principle and interest since then. It will be due in 2023.  If we continue on our current course of payments, we will owe about $2M.  This debt would either need to be re-financed or paid off with a capital campaign, or some combination thereof.  Alternatively, with some significant changes in our giving or spending habits, it is possible to adjust our current course of payments and seek to pay off the $2M from our operating and building funds over a 5 year period without re-financing or a having capital campaign.  The discernment of the right course of action needs to happen presently.
  6. We love Spanish speakers.  We have sung songs with Spanish lyrics.  We have served people who speak Spanish who are working through the immigration process (RILA).  We have partnered with Casa Chirilagua by providing financial contributions, tutors, staff mentorship, and prayers.  We have sent over 40 people to Bolivia on short term teams.  God is bringing us opportunities to serve and build relationships with people whose first language is Spanish.  What should we do next?  Should we have songs in Spanish more regularly?  Should we think about hosting a Eucharist service in Spanish?  What role should Spanish play in our strategic plan?

  7. We are at a transition point with the leadership of our outreach strategy.  Liz Gray did a uniquely incredible job of laying a foundation of partnership both locally and around the world.  We have not found a point person to build on this particular part of Liz’s legacy.  What should Restoration outreach look like in the next 5-6 years?

Restoration Vision Night: September 6, 7-9pm  

This reflection is designed to get the gears of your soul moving.  As you pray and think about the things that God is doing in our church, what are the images, words, and Scriptures that come to mind?  What gets you excited?  What is not included but needs to be?  What do you want to see happen? 

There will be opportunities to share your thoughts verbally on Sept 6.  You can also write them to me. 

Vision Night will be the first of a few.  Join us in giving thanks for all that God has done.  Join us in listening for all that He wants to do next. 

-David

I changed my bio this week.

DMH Bio

A screenshot of the bio that was on our website for the last 8 years.

I changed my bio on our website this week.

I have always listed out ‘random affections’ because hearing about what people love tells us a lot about them.  The people who influence us tell us a lot about who we are…  Can you list out the 4 or 5 people who have most shaped you as a friend, a spouse, or a parent?  Who are your vocational mentors?  What are your random affections?

I have been in vocational ministry and organizational leadership for almost 25 years.  During all that time, I have looked to and admired the work of Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church:

  • Back in the 90’s, I attended the (now renamed) Church Leadership Summit.
  • I had a subscription to their sermon recordings.  Each week I would get a cassette tape (!) in the mail with a sermon from John Ortberg or Bill Hybels.
  • I own and have read almost every book that Bill has written.
  • I have worshipped at Willow Creek a half dozen times.
  • I wanted to be passionate like Bill was passionate for the local church.
  • I wanted to tell riveting stories that make people laugh and cry… like he did to me.
  • I wanted to care about lost people being reconciled to God and take risks to tell them that God loves them… like he does.
  • I wanted to be excellent and confident in my leadership… like him.
  • I wanted to to launch and support transforming Kingdom works… like he did (the Care Center, Cars Ministry, raising awareness about Global Poverty, calling the church to care about prisoners in prison, and so many others…)
  • I rejoiced when Bill named his successor to be a leadership/preaching team of Heather Larson and Steve Carter.

In the past 4 months, all of that has unraveled…  very publicly, before our very eyes.  Bill resigned.  Steve resignedHeather resignedAll of the elders resigned.

The allegations against Bill are consistent.  The behavior of which he is accused is wrong (and so many other negative adjectives).  I wish he would publicly acknowledge what he actually did and put to rest the conjecture.  It is painful (heart-wrenching) to watch a legacy dissolve;  to witness the implosion of a church that changed the way we think about church.  

Bill did shape me as a leader.  But I have had to change my mind and repent of my aspirations to lead as one who is ‘mentored by Bill’ (from a distance through books and talks).  I can no longer affirm his ministry by listing him as an affection on my bio.

I am sorting through what it means when our ‘heroes’ fail us.  I am sad, sobered, cautious.  We have talked about these events on our staff team and among my ministry peers.  Our vestry, staff, and personnel team have taken time this summer to revise and strengthen our harassment policy.

I mourn for what is happening at Willow Creek.  I can’t imagine the pain that the congregation is experiencing.  I mourn for the degradation of the church (again) in the public’s eye.  These events and resignations are more fuel for the fire.

I continue to look for men and women who are leading thriving organizations with integrity, compassion, skill, competence, and love.  By God’s grace, there are thousands of these people!

May we all live lives of close accountability.  I really appreciate this blog to pastors from Rich Villados.  I think there is a lot of cross-over into your world as well.

We need to be known:

  • both our gifts and our shortcomings
  • both our strengths and our temptations
  • both our flourishing joy and our lonely deceptions.

I wanted you to know what’s been going on in my mind and heart over the last few weeks.  I am grateful to be your pastor.

-David

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