I want to thank a community of friends — Denise Friesen, Melinda Denton, Elizabeth Travis, Rebecca and Bill Stevenson, Betsy and Jimmy Long, Rick Fannin, Don Taylor, Ed Richmond, Andrea Turlington, Steven and Amy Nicholson, and Mimi Conder — for a job well done.
This community has served as a vision community for the emerging culture initiative that I have been leading at the Chapel Hill Bible Church. As a community, we have been meeting together for seven months to listen to God's voice and offer a recommendation to our leadership about a ministry initiative related to the emerging culture. Our times together have been filled with prayer, personal vulnerability, honest declarations of hopes and dreams, and respectful listening to each other. What a pleasure and a privilege. When we first convened, we expressed a huge diversity of action preferences for this initiative. I have experienced God's presence as our path moved to that of an excited consensus of action.
On Wednesday evening, we presented our dreams, heart, and plans to the Elder Board. (Several of us were in dual roles — Don and I as current elders, Rick and Jimmy as former elders and former elder chairs.) I was so pleased by this presentation. Rebecca was our primary spokesperson. She spoke eloquently and passionately. Every one in our community offered powerful and appropriate personal comments throughout the presentation. I don't think this team could have done a better job.
We have some very exciting dreams. We hope to foster an authentic ministry to the emerging culture while staying in a mutually influencing, reciprocal relationship with an existing church. This type of relationship is quite rare in the church life in a America. We are excited about forging some new ground that others can observe. Our efforts to minister to the emerging culture could also be stated more precisely. We understand that the church has much to learn from the emerging culture in our society as well. Ancient Christians passions of contemplation, the celebration of beauty and utilization of artistic creativity, wholistic spiritual formation, understanding the role of community in God's redemptive work, justice, ecology, and so much more have reawakened in the emergence of this new culture. We hope and dream for a reciprocal relationship with an emerging culture that informs and refines (rather than compromises) our telling of the grand metanarrative of God's redemption of humanity and all of creation. We look forward to forging many new partnerships in this endeavor understanding that this is "not about us" but it is about participating and joining what God is doing.
Perhaps the strongest words in our presentation to the Elder board on Wednesday came from Elizabeth Travis. She was responding to the question, "What do you think this initiative and specifically this proposal will prevent us from doing (i.e., other programs the church could resource)?" Elizabeth responded, "I can't speak to other plans, but I can testify that God is doing something here!" Great words. I do believe God is doing something.
We look forward in the very near future to sharing our proposal with you. We look forward to dreaming with you. We look forward to new communities living in missional submission to the God's ongoing narrative of redemption is a changed and changing world.