Did you look for the video? America, we have a problem!

stop_hand_smWe live in a violent culture, America.

I’m not going to blame any one group, school of thought, Constitutional Amendment, or video game, but any of them could play a part. So could our propensity to call violence entertainment. So could our hyper-connectivity and an always-on news business which constantly demands the pages and screens to be filled. So could our inability to deal with interpersonal conflict directly. So could… you get the point.

I wasn’t near a television or the internet when the tragic murder of two journalists from Virginia unfolded on live television. I was waiting for a friend to arrive and quickly checked Facebook for messages when I saw the initial post, but didn’t read the story. I later learned the horror of the situation and about the way the killer leveraged all the angles I mentioned above as he brought a live television audience into his crime, into his first-person shooter point of view.

Late last night I began to see posts online by people who sought out the videos of the murders, not only the recording of the live broadcast, but also that from the body camera of the killer. I thought at first it was morbid curiosity, like slowing down to look at a bad wreck, but it has troubled me in the time since.

There is something different about wanting to see the violent death of another human being with your own eyes, about purposing to see it, about furthering the trauma. Is it murder in our own hearts? I think it might be.

America, we have to do something. It won’t be easy. We will have to give up our personal right opinions in order to save lives. We will have to sacrifice for one another instead of demanding our way. We will have to take two giant steps forward, toward positions that aren’t our favorite trenches, and then a few more, because what we’re doing now isn’t working.

We have to stop killing each other. It effects every “issue” on our collective cultural plate. Every. single. one. Let’s pretend for a moment, or a few, or maybe just commit to the fact that every human being has value.

Let’s get creative.

Put all options on the table and let’s work this out.

Well, here we are…

Today is my last day as a staff member of Christ’s Church Albany. I wish the word for how I feel about it wasn’t bittersweet… why does the bitter come first? I’m not doing that!

The sweet:

There’s a lot of that for me both personally and professionally!

The staff families were surprised with a thank you on the Sunday marking six months of services. PC: Tyleia Harrell

The staff families were surprised with a thank you on the Sunday marking six months of services. PC: Tyleia Harrell

First, being a part of this group of people in the picture to the left (including the two born since this photo was taken a year ago)! Working with them to start a church from an idea about how we’d like to love our neighbors has been a lot of fun, a huge challenge, and a growing experience for us all.

Thanks to each of you for listening and being supportive as we came to realize this wasn’t the right role for me anymore and then began the process of leaving (it was a longgggg transition). You were more patient with me than I was with myself.

I learned how to do some (ok, a lot of) new things. I taught people how to do new things. Together, we’ve worked alongside an amazing — and growing — group of people to start something I can only describe as significant.

In the end (also not the right word), it was the right work for me for this season of the church’s life. Now, many others will get to build on that foundation. I’m praying for you as you grow into the new roles you taken on. I’m grateful to have played a part in where we are now as a church.

Which leads me to… I’m still not leaving the church! People keep asking, so I keep saying it. Christ’s Church Albany is stuck with me for the foreseeable future! It would take a literal act of God to change my mind on that. I’m committed to some volunteer roles in our church (for the curious, connections team leader, speaking occasionally for communion, kids and bible 101, and contributing to social media/weekly email/creative). Life won’t look much different if you usually only see me on Sundays.

In my first official act as a member only, I want to invite your prayers for Jon, Joe and Ty and their families. They are so talented, so dedicated, and such great friends. [Joe, FYI, I got to here before crying. Progress!] This life goes at a frenetic pace; it’s not easy. Like all teams, we’ve wrestled through issues together and I can tell you that their heart is always the mission – in their own lives, in their families, in their teams, and in our city. Every day.

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PS – Stay tuned for what’s next for me. In fact, if you want to be in on the news as soon as it breaks, I’ve set up an email list that you can join by adding your email below. I won’t give it away, you have my word!



I’m a minefield. You might be too.

If you’ve been around me much these past few weeks, you may have noticed that I’m struggling to keep itpath together — and failing pretty often. There’s a lot going on in life, more than an average level of upheaval in life and ministry, and, if I’m to be true to living authentically, I need to be present to that in all its diversity of joy, pain and in-between.

I don’t have much of a poker face when it comes to my own emotions. Some would say that’s a good thing. Others, who have witnessed the unwitting stepping on of a thin spot in my composure, might say that I really need to get it together. You’re both probably correct!

While I’m certain that leaving my staff position at Christ’s Church Albany is the right move for the church and for me in the long run, in the short term it is stretching all kinds of limits and poking at every insecurity ever known to me. Hello, spiritual warfare — I see you and you won’t win. All will be alright; we’re a resilient bunch. I’m grateful to have been able to serve in this role, though I vacillate between it having been a mistake in the first place (in spite of having accomplished much and helped to build the foundation of something amazing) and wanting to stay (because change is hard and I’ll deeply miss the way our staff team relates). I’ve cried a lot of conflicted tears, a few angry ones, and rivers of ‘this is hard and I don’t like it’ ones. Thank you to those who have listened, loved and prayed.

I have one Sunday and a few weekdays remaining. Ninety-nine percent of the work I won’t be doing anymore is handed off — a lot to volunteers and some to the other staff. I’m grateful for the culture of empowerment we value at our church. I’m close to a decision on what’s next and have just a couple more steps in that process before I can say publicly what that will be. I’m nervous about committing, to be honest. It doesn’t have anything to do with fit; the position is literally custom-made for me and would be a great adventure in some familiar territory. The nerves have to do with making this decision in the midst of the emotional minefield that owns me right now.

First, however, I need to keep trusting (trust better!) and keep walking (even if the steps are tentative right now). Maybe you’ve felt like this, too?

I pray you all have a joyful celebration of Jesus over these next few days. If you’re in Albany and need a group of people with whom to celebrate, I recommend these folks — love and party guaranteed. I’ll see you there!

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What’s happening now?

I’ve seen a few of you, my blog-reading friends, either in person or around the wonderful web, and you’ve asked for an update. There’s so much happening in life now, above and beyond the work transition, but the work transition is the focus of most of my days.

image_handoffWith just a few weeks remaining in my employment at Christ’s Church Albany, I think we’re in pretty reasonable position with transitioning much of my staff role into a lot of newly created volunteer roles. There has been quite a bit of angst for me as I attempt (some times better than others) to disentangle myself from that, but I think we’re all making good progress. Our church has great people!

Of course, there are some parts that haven’t captivated anyone just yet. I believe they will! I’m coming to grips with the fact that I may not be directly handing them off… yuk. The bonus, though, is that whenever that happens, I’m still a part of the church and definitely available for questions and encouragement. Of course, the possibility exists that won’t even be needed. 🙂

I’m continuing to explore the potential position I wrote about here. I’m excited by the possibilities that work would offer. I have intentionally done very little as it relates to that position beside pray and show the relevant details to a few trusted friends for their prayer and counsel. Most people are pretty positive about most aspects and each raised similar questions, all of which is encouraging.

Because of the “stuff of life” coming over the next 4-6 weeks, including some important family needs, I probably won’t update about my work situation until after Easter. I may write about other things… maybe… I do want to be more consistent and there’s no time like the present to start fresh, right?

🙂

I appreciate you!

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A new season is coming

No, this isn’t a post about snow, though that will eventually stop falling and melt away, as most seasonal distinctives do.

This post is about another new beginning. It’s also about not being certain exactly what I’m beginning yet.

The past few weeks have been full of realizations and actions on them. The thimble-sized version is that I have resigned from my position at Christ’s Church Albany. I love my church, our vision, our implementation of it, our people – everything except the details of my job description. Even though I’m really good at my job. And, I’m not leaving this group of people; it’s our church. I know, it seems like a crazy idea. You can read more details, if you like, by clicking here for the text of the announcement we made to the church.

These past couple of years have been full of God-sized crazy ideas. I haven’t been disappointed by acting on a single one of them. Not once. Even when it was monumentally difficult and even painful, which this is. I’ve learned a ton about myself and others. I’ve learned that I can’t settle for part of what I’m called to do and be content for very long.

So, a new season begins.

My downloads folder contains some fascinating documents at the moment. The most fascinating is a job description that is tailor-made for me, quite literally a dream job. To do it would be challenging and worthwhile and really good for the kingdom of God. To do it would also require some seriously hard work up front; I’d need help… a lot of help. Then, however, that would yield an amazing opportunity to serve. It feels God-sized. It also feels like it would be a terrible thing to get wrong.

So, I’m dusting off the blog to ask for your help – wherever you are, wherever you see this – will you pray about this with me? If you have some encouragement, or some wisdom, or just a like/favorite/comment to share, I’d be grateful to know you’re here. I sincerely believe in the power of community seeking answers together.

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