At the top of the papers, I found my old “manifesto” about a way of planting and doing church. I called it “the scatter church”.
I was a sort of intern at an EFCA church around the age of 20. Mostly, I did stuff with the youth group, some teaching, leading music, hanging out with a bunch of junior high boys. Once a week or so, a couple of us young adults would sit around with the pastor and talk about stuff. We worked through some books, talked through some scripture. It was an experiment for us and for him. I ended up being friends with the pastor for a long while. I used to bug him with questions about theology and scripture on a fairly regular basis. We still chat on Facebook once in a while. Good guy.
Around this time, he asked one of the most formative questions to the shape of my spirituality:
If you could make a church, what would it look like?
This one question has haunted me, pushed me to re-think spiritual communities, forced me into a constant critique of American church in general, made me dissatisfied with my own answers, and generally put a hunger in me to see the kind of Christian community I want to be part of grow somewhere. The core of this manifesto has actually stuck with me over these years, calling out to me, urging me to dream of a better life of faith. In my bones, still I want to see this kind of community real and alive.
Years ago (before it was hip to be missional and authentic), if you wanted to succeed in the church you had to create a mission and/or vision statement; something that gave definition and meaning to your actions, direction to your steps, and something that others could read and “get” you. This was the defining document about what you felt God had created and called you to do.
I found my old mission/vision statement in this notebook. I’m gonna share it here. Judge as you will.
In full and utter dependence on the one true God, I will pro-actively impact my culture with the true Gospel of the love and grace of God the Father (made fully and ultimately known in God the Son, Jesus the Christ) and the abundant life that God the Spirit lavishes on me as he dwells in me. All the while, I shall never give up my pursuit of the depths of God with live changing study, prayer, and worship.
I long to see all humanity full of the Spirit and in search of God’s depths, so I will personally introduce people to jesus on their personal level. I will disciple believers that they in turn may impact their culture, pursue the depths of God, introduce others to Jesus, and lead people in discipleship.
To this mission I recklessly devote my all to, counting myself as a sacrifice, crucified with Christ that he may now live abundantly in me. By doing this I hope to bring a smile to my heavenly Father’s face as I try to be his glory.
Funny, as I read it now I realize that it really is me. This is what I’m about, my heart. The words I choose and the way I may articulate things may have changed over this last decade, but the heart beat is still the same. Is it weird that part of me feels embarrassed to admit that? The enthusiasm, the determination to change the world, the youth captured in those words… part of me is far too cynical these days.
The rest of the notebook has various notes: a Bible studies on 1 and 2 Peter, a 21 page commentary on the first 17 verses in Romans, re-thinking Revelation 1-3 as a the key to understanding the book, thoughts about a church plant I was part of, and a bunch of notes about the hope of salvation. Pretty much a written snap shot of my life at the time. The bible fascinated me. I wanted to get it and help other get it better. Still do.
It’s crazy to come across something from a time in my life that feels so far removed from now. My life was so very different back then. Part time jobs, hours spent studying, dreams and no compromise. I was a coffee fueled dreamer. Still am in many ways.
I am glad to find that I haven’t change too much in these past 10 years. Sometimes I worry that my dreams are fading out. I worry that my heart isn’t in it any more, that life is just going along. Sometimes I need a reminder that I still dream the same dreams. Sometimes I need a reminder that my dreams aren’t crazy, they can last over time. Sometimes I need a reminder that I can think thoughts that will impact my life 10, 20, 50 years down the way. Sometimes I need a reminder about what I love, what makes my blood pump and my breath heavy. Sometimes I need a reminder.