The solidarity of brokenness is palpable in this seemingly random meeting. The willingness to risk making a fool of oneself by finding comfort in another person as wounded as ourselves is what makes these words so powerful.
Loneliness may also be shared. This is the twist that pulls me into this song: "I could be lonely with you." This is the hope of every friendship, drawing us into another person. This song could easily be a prayer for our times, and definitely an anthem for recent months in my own life.
My reading of Belden Lane's The Solace of Fierce Landscapes engages the idea that brokenness is part of what it means to be human:
"Our culture substitutes the glamorous for the grotesque, denying this awkward vision of the imago Dei. Our definitions of the human rule out bizarre and broken forms. People dying of cancer possess none of the power or beauty that we assume to be the principal marks of human worth. If we define the person exclusively in terms of rational ability and productivity, someone with Down's syndrome will inevitably appear to be less than whole. The eccentric, the ugly, the abnormal lie beyond the measure of our societal norms. We're left with a stylized and truncated humanity, dangerously imagining itself complete." (1998, page 33)
There is a wholeness that comes only through brokenness. Healing does not need to happen before the wound. There is hope in brokenness, entered into through finding oneself alone and honestly appearing before the other. In this moment of clarity, loneliness finds a friend, and brokenness begins to collapse into something more complete.
This morning I presented a training session on posmodern evangelism to over twenty church leaders from across the United States and from Kenya. The hope is to be humble enough to listen, draw near, and engage people in conversation along the journey toward Christ--the trajectory of grace through the threshold of faith. Below is the downloadable powerpoint file.
Later, I will be able to link to a video of the training session.
Thanks to Black Dog Coffeeshop in Lenexa, Kansas for providing the necessary caffeine for an early Saturday morning. And, to the Lord, for pointing us all toward the Life we all seek.
Link to the video file on dropbox: CLICK HERE
broken by lovelytheband
Life to Fix by The Record Company
From This Valley by The Civil Wars
Sit Next to Me by Foster the People
The Joke by Brandi Carlisle
Friday I'm in Love by The Cure
Small Town by John Cougar Mellencamp
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
Round Here by Count Crows
Hunger by Florence + The Machine
Bad Bad News by Leon Bridges
Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
Somebody to Love by Queen
Don't You (Forget About me) by Simple Minds
Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters
Even Flow by Pearl Jam
Sucker's Prayer by The Decemberists
Lightening Crashes by Live
Holding Back the Years - Simply Red
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love by The Blues Brothers
It's the End of the World As We Know It by R.E.M.
Your Bright Baby Blues by Sean Watkins, Sara Watkins
Refugee By Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns N' Roses
Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
You Worry Me by Nathaniel Ratecliff and the Night Sweats
Soul To Squeeze by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Saturday Sun by Vance Joy
Revolution (featuring First Aid Kit) by Van William
So here's a "melt-your-heart" dorm room cover of Chance the Rapper by Payton Price
(click the image to watch)
"Early in the spiritual journey, we start to experience the reality of God and God’s love as more than an abstract concept or theory. At the same time, however, we tend to start by believing that God’s love is limited to just us, just our group! The circle takes a long time to widen.
"Little by little we begin to respond to God’s love, but we still perceive God’s love as dependent on our ideal response. We believe that grace is a conditional gift, that God will love us if we are good, that God will save or reward us if we keep the commandments or go to church.
"As we practice giving and receiving love, we begin to see God’s love is infinite and unconditional, but the implications are just too mind-blowing. We acknowledge that God loves us whether we are good or bad, and that God is gracious to the just and the unjust alike. But we still think that God is doing that from afar, from up in heaven somewhere. We do not yet see ourselves as inherently participating in the same process. Frankly, we have not yet discovered our own soul.
"Finally, we make the breakthrough to seeing that God’s grace and love is present within us, through us, with us, and even as us! We wake up to who we truly are: the image and likeness of God. The mystery of incarnation has come full circle. We can now enjoy God’s temple within our own body as the Apostle Paul teaches (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and throughout), and we can love ourselves, others, and God by the one same flow. It is all one stream of Love! We fully realize that it is God who is doing the loving, and we surrender ourselves to being channels and instruments of that Divine Flow in the world. We do not initiate the process; we only continue it."
- Evolving Faith by Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, 2018
"The biblical tradition reveals that whenever the prophetic gift is lacking in any group or religion, such a group will very soon be self-serving, self-perpetuating, and self-promoting. Without prophetic criticism, all sense of mission and message is lost. Establishments of any kind usually move toward their own self-perpetuation, rather than 'What are we doing for the world?' In fact, the question of mission is not even asked because self-perpetuation has become an end in itself."
- Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations 2018
There is only one Nazarene church on the Front Range megaregion that has over 1,000 in worship attendance--Denver First with 1,309. The second highest worship attendance is also in the Denver metro in the suburb of Westminister at a church called The Crossing with 707. Here's the kicker:
One of every 4 worship attenders are in these two churches during a typical worship gathering. And, one-fourth of the total Nazarene membership in this megaregion is also found in these two churches.
About half of the churches on this megaregion (46%) run below 45 in average worship attendance.
There are 14 churches that average more than 150 in worship attendance (including the two mentioned above). Let this figure settle into your missional thinking for a moment. Remember this megeragion has 5.5 million people (and will grow to 10.2 million in three decades).
87 churches reported attendance more than zero in 2017.
Pueblo, Colorado is the geographic center of this megaregion (if we extend this area south to El Paso).
About one-fourth of the churches in the Front Range megaregion are designated as ethnic.
Only 15 have assigned pastors; one is in a dual charge assignment.
Two of the 15 assigned pastors are women.
Twelve percent have more than 75 in average worship attendance.
One out of every ten Nazarene members on this megaregion belongs to an ethnic church.
The predominant ethnicity is Hispanic.
There are six female Nazarene senior assigned pastors in the Front Range megaregion.
That's 8% of the senior assigned pastors here.
The largest church attendance with a female pastor is 92; however, the median attendance is 25.
Two-thirds of the women have served in their current assignment for less than eight years.
It seems as if there is going to be enough churches to reach the coming population expansion in this megaregion, women seeking ministry will have to be sought, encouraged, and nurtured into ministry just as much as men. There is a clear emphasis on male leadership when there honestly may not be enough men available or responding to the call to preach.
Whatever may be the case, where are the women and who will open doors, clear the pathway, and become mentors for them?
What would it take for a current pastor to mentor more women into ministry?
There are 75 senior assigned pastors on this megaregion, one pastor has a dual assignment in two churches. There are 17 churches without an assigned pastor.
The median tenure for pastors on this megaregion is 2012. That means half of the pastors have been in their current assignment since this date.
One-third of these pastors have been in their assignments for less than four years, and another one-third for more than eight years. Eighteen pastors have been in their assignments for more than a decade.
Median worship attendance at churches with an assigned pastor is 57.
This is for a population of 5.5 million (see second image below). This megaregion will add another 4.8 million people in the next three decades.
If the current number of pastors (75) is maintained during the population growth that will occur, the following ratios apply:
One pastor for 73,333 people (2010)
One pastor for 92,000 people (2025)
One pastor for 136,000 people (2050)