I'm Back...For Now
Sorry about the absence. Last Wednesday I flew out to California to spend some time with the folks at New Vintage Church in Santa Rosa, California. Faith 2.0 is wrapping up a year-long consulting contract with them, and I've been traveling out there approximately every six weeks since last summer. On Thursday and Friday nights we did an event called Married Life Live. I'm indebted to my friend Jeff Sandstrom for the way he's produced three of these events for New Vintage. All I had to do was show up and speak.
On Saturday night and Sunday morning I spoke in the weekend assemblies. It's amazing to see a church of nearly 1,100 regular attenders in the midst of a county where only 5% of the population attends church. It's especially amazing when you hear Pastor Andy Vomsteeg tell the story of how the church of less than 100 people that hired him lied to him, tried to fire him after they started growing, lost 10 of the wealthiest members and then exploded in growth.
I got to hear Andy tell that story Sunday night to 180 pastors from 20 different denominations from places as far away as New Zealand. They were all attending a conference in San Francisco, and they all came across the Golden Gate Bridge to see New Vintage and celebrate what God can do in a relatively short period of time.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I have a love/hate relationship with the church. There are times when I wish I could quit church altogether -- stop attending, stop being concerned, stop fighting the people who want to keep things the same, stop being sucked into arguments that will never change anyone's mind, stop worrying about the whole thing.
And then there are times when I want to find a really good church and plug in fulltime again. Take a church that's willing to think strategically and make it into the lighthouse it's supposed to be, train Christians how to leverage their influence in this often-dark world, create relevant and engaging environments that help non-Christians recognize the claims made in the Bible in language they can understand.
Times like this weekend nudge me from the first path towards the second.
It was an exhausting trip. There were some hard conversations that had to take place. There were two difficult messages (one for Married Life and one for their weekend assembly) that I was called to deliver. There were lots of questions to answer and problems to solve, strategic pieces to be put in place. There was an overnight red-eye flight home.
But I've come back from my trip to California humbled and honored to be a part of what God is doing at New Vintage and excited about the prospect of finding more places where God is working, partnering with him in that work, celebrating the ever-advancing kingdom into which we've been invited.