“What churches need are not more entrepreneurial leaders with wonderful plans for their congregation’s life, but poets with the imagination and gifting to cultivate environments within which people might again understand how their traditional narratives apply to them today.”
I have written before about the beauty and challenges of my home church. Our church of fifteen regulars was once a church plant of nearly 200 attendees, that has endured much loss and yet has emerged as a thoughtful, bonded, collaborative house church. We do not have a traditional pastor, nor an identified single leader, but rather a leadership team with shared responsibilities, that encourages all of our church members to serve and lead according to our gifting.
This week’s reading was… interesting timing. Three of the four members of our leadership team attended our regional denominational conference last week. The conference (my first) was enlightening. Among the forty or so attendees were leaders of churches that are thriving in a traditional context, of churches that are struggling (a church of eight members planning to sell its building), church planters, and members of “Field USA” – the denomination’s enterprise to support creative, organic, missional communities. The primary business of the conference was to re-organize the region into a smaller set of areas, based on either geography or affinity (as yet in progress) to increase the level of support away from a more hierarchical model to a more team oriented, organic model. Yet at the same time, the denomination itself operates in a hierarchical, traditional western approach. A denomination and region in transition, filled with churches in transition.
Len Hjalmarson writes about that space of transition, referring to it as liminal; as the space in between. It is the space where transformation may occur, noting that God is interested in transformation. He describes this as “an intensely uncomfortable place” but also “a place of possibility.”  Amen to the discomfort, and amen to the possibility!
Last night our leadership team met and discussed not only the regional conference, but the future of our church. In January we agreed to enter into a time of rest and contemplation, to consider our future. We had agreed to return to this conversation in June. So here we are. Last night, as we considered our future, we talked about how we had perhaps learned well how to live with change and loss – despite the uncertainty – but did not know how to grow from here. We talked about how perhaps we may have become comfortable with our routines, though we often talk about how we desire more. And then we talked about Moses’ experience with the burning bush. Two significant questions arose:
1. Are we looking for the burning bush? Is it possible that we have walked right by the burning bush and not noticed because we were too caught up in our routine?
2. Are we willing to shed all of our comforts and conventions and cross the desert, as Moses did? Are we willing to shed tradition and adapt to our new world?
As our meeting ended, I was left with a sense of excitement and possibility. I felt the spark of something new – unknown yet deep and powerful. It felt like God.
And then today I read our assigned articles and thought to myself, “Wow! This is the exact assurance that our church needs.” Though Hjalmarson, in both articles, speaks to a need for a different type of leadership, and attending to our context, I found assurance in my perception that by intention or not, my church is living this reality. Hjalmarson writes, “Working with the unseen elements of growth requires intimate connection (community) and comfort with process and paradox.”  Our church has community. And we have a certain ambivalent comfort with process and paradox. I think the challenge is embracing the journey without necessarily knowing the exact destination. We need to learn to navigate and release our imagined sense of control. Many of our members would prefer a simple “how to” description of our next steps; the traditional western linear logic of a leads to b leads to c. Perhaps our great challenge will be to embrace in faith the journey upon which we have embarked and trust God’s leading.
I am encouraged and excited. I simply ask that as God leads you, you might pray with us and for us.
 Alan Roxburgh, The Sky is Falling (Eagle, ID: ACI Publications, 2005). p166. as quoted by Len Hjalmarson in “Leadership in the Chaordic Age” , 2013, Accessed April 7, 2015. http://nextreformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Leadership_in_Chaordic_Age.pdf
 Len Hjalmarson, “Broken Futures – Adaptive Challenge and the Church in Transition’, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, p.3.
 Len Hjalmarson, “Leadership in the Chaordic Age” , 2013, Accessed April 7, 2015. http://nextreformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Leadership_in_Chaordic_Age.pdf