West Asia Reflection #1

Join us on 20 January 2019 at 6:30pm in the sanctuary for the

West Asia Treats and  Team Report

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Ryan and Lorene with our 5(!) huge suitcases of clothing for Syrian refugees

Bread and the Spirit

By, Lorene Eberhardt

When I think about our time in West Asia, two themes keep coming to mind.  The bread is plentiful and abundant throughout the country: a staple of every meal, loaves overflowing in shops littering the streets.  Jesus tells us He is the bread of life, and every time I saw a loaf or slice I found myself praying that the people of this land would come to know the One who can satisfy their hunger.
In the city by the Lake the hunger sits quietly below the surface.  People move around at a relaxed pace, stopping for conversations, sharing bread and olives, practicing their English with the funny Americans.  Occasionally a question or comment reveals the deeper hunger, a tiny wave breaking through the tranquility.
In the Big City, the scene feels more familiar to us from DC; locals and foreign visitors alike move past one another in a rush, never making eye contact, looking either at their phones or at where they’re trying to go, not at who is next to them.  Somehow you can feel the hunger more palpably here; like the seas and straits that surround this city, bigger waves and disturbances crest more frequently.  There are reminders of political upheavals, clashes of secularism and religious fervor, and the daily pressures related to cosmopolitan life.
Our trip was a week of opening our eyes to the work of the Holy Spirit, and stepping into his open invitation to join Him in the work He is already doing. Our team stepped out of vans to pray with fruit sellers, out in faith to buy an axe, into a room where refugee women are welcomed and handed clothing and diapers for their children, and then up in front of other Christians to share our stories of trusting Jesus with our desires.  Conversations that might have felt scary or unfamiliar back at home were somehow made comfortable and tender, through the transformational power of His Spirit.  There were multiple occasions in which I opened my mouth and heard His words on my tongue.
I’m grateful for the eight days of opportunity to see His Spirit work, and filled with hope and anticipation for how He continues to satisfy the deepest hungers both in West Asia and here in my own life.

Wardens’ Report: December 2018

At our December 5th Vestry meeting, we enjoyed dinner together and prayer before starting the meeting.  This month Dietrich Kuhlmann led us through prayer which included a time of intercession and thanksgiving for Beth Tipps, our new Associate Rector (she joined us on October 1st) . We prayed gratitude that Beth was truly an answer to Restoration’s prayers and that Restoration has been an answer to Beth’s. We are grateful for the way Beth has spent time intentionally getting to know Restoration and our parishioners, and we pray for God’s direction for the next few months as Beth continues to learn what it means to be a vocational priest and a leader at Restoration. As always, we hope that you will pray with us for all the staff, vestry and God’s work here at Quincy Street. 

In our meeting we approved the Outreach Steering Team’s recommendation to give away our Christmas Eve Offering to Ras Morbat Clinic in Aden, Yemen, a ministry of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. We also received reports from Incarnation about their first three months meeting together, and from the personnel team regarding a gracious in-kind donation we have received from some unified communications consultants.

Meredith Taylor, our Treasurer walked us through a finance report that shows we are under on anticipated giving for the months of September-November 2018. The vestry will wait to hear a report on giving in December 2018 before making any necessary adjustments to the FY2019 budget, which was approved in August of 2018 (Restoration’s fiscal year runs from September to August.)

Chris Belen raised a motion to clarify a previous point in our outreach granting decision that will allow us to plan on three-year granting relationships with some of our local and global outreach partners. Additionally, Becky Mohr lead discussion concerning our maternity leave policy and our plan for staffing outreach needs in 2019.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, words of wisdom or encouragement, please know that we are open to your feedback.  You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’

–Dietrich Kuhlmann and Becky Mohr, Wardens

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

Vestry Election Results: the class of 2021

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Dear Restoration,

It brings me great joy to write to you with the results of our 2018 Vestry Selection.  It was an excellent process that was undergirded with faithful and overt prayer.

The selection process began with several dozen nominees.  The Vestry Discernment Team (VDT) was thrilled with the number of people who were offered as potential servant leaders for vestry.  We were also humbled by the number of people and the task of discerning the few out of the many who could be put on the slate.  I am so grateful for the number of people who WANT to serve AND the number of people who are ABLE to serve.  Restoration has a rich resource of gifted servant leaders and it is the reason we have such excellent leadership through our advisory teams (personnel, facility, outreach, finance, church planting);  and discernment teams (for people considering vocational change–  especially to ordained ministry); and vestry.  Thanks be to God!

 

During the “Restoration Annual Meeting” that was open from November 25 to December 2, members of Restoration voted for 3 of the 7 candidates.  Here are the results:  Erica Chapman, Mary Breed, and Brad Jones now comprise the vestry class of 2021.

The Restoration Vestry will look like this next year:

The Vestry Class of 2019

  • Leigh McAfee (liaison to Incarnation Anglican Church)
  • Sean Burke
  • Chris Belen

The Vestry Class of 2020

  • Kevin Marshall
  • Danny Lee
  • Johanna Montague

The Vestry Class of 2021

  • Erica Chapman
  • Mary Breed
  • Brad Jones

Every year, we are asking God for clarity about people with the right gifts for whom vestry is the right time.  There are always multiple people who could fill these roles–  and for that we are grateful that there is a rich choice.  Thanks be to God that He sees the future and He knows what our church needs and He guides the heads and hearts of His people to select and to choose and to faithfully follow.  Thank you to all the people who considered serving on vestry.  I appreciate your courage and humility and willingness to serve.

Please pray.

Over the next few weeks, the old vestry will be meeting with the new vestry through informal coffees and lunches in order to begin the process of orientation to this team.  On January 22, 2019 the new vestry will meet for the first time.  On January 26 the vestry will leave town for a day retreat at Meadowkirk as we begin to anticipate all that God might do this year.

To the One who always does more than we can ask or imagine:  glory and honor, thanks and praise.

From the One who knows what we need before we even ask:  grace and peace; faith, hope, and love.

-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

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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

 

The Fall Retreat was excellent. And Jesus is relaxed.

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I was thinking of so many different words to describe the weekend-  glorious, off the hook, sick, awesome, fun, incredible, amazing.

But excellent works.  The planning team was excellent.  The small group leaders were excellent.  The youth program and the kids’ program:  excellent.

By way of update and reminder, I want to list our quotes from our speaker, Todd Hunter.  If you were there, it will remind you of the excellent things he said.  If you missed, perhaps it will inspire you to ask someone who was there more about it.

Do you think Jesus is smart?

 

Did He say anything that corresponds to the realities of your present, every-day life?

 

God wants to cooperate with your set of desires.  He’s a genius.  He’s stunningly brilliant.  He knows what He is doing.

 

You are what you love (quoting James K. A. Smith).  But you may not love what you think you do.  (which explains why you might do something and then say, ‘I have no idea why I did that…’  Perhaps you don’t love what you think you do.)

 

The Christian story begins with divine intention (not things being broken and busted, not even things being created) and moves to a good and peaceful Telos.

 

Whatever you think salvation is will determine your discipleship.  Do you see the Gospel as more than just a vision for a secure death that is rooted in mere cognition?  Do we have imagination for discipleship, followership, apprenticeship?  Do we believe that Jesus has something to say about our life, now, and not just our death?

 

When Jesus announced the Kingdom, he said…  ‘the reality of the Kingdom is here and it calls for choices.  Repent.  Re-think your life.’

 

Jesus is relaxed.  He has a confident relationship with His Father that funds everything.  He was ok about Judas, about James and John, about Peter, relaxed about the trials with made-up charges.

 

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO CREATE A SELF!!  Think how peace you could be if you didn’t have to manage what others think of you.

 

The church is the instrument and the means of the Kingdom.  The only 2 verbs in the New Testament that are given in reference to the Kingdom are ‘receive’ and ‘enter’.  We are not called to build it or extend it.  We are invited to receive it and to enter it.  Through the church.

You can listen to all of Todd’s talks here.

What a great weekend.  I love the Fall Retreat!

-David

 

Parish Meeting Recap (Audio at end)

Parish Meeting

The Audio from our 30 September 2018 Parish Meeting is at the bottom of this post.

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

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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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