New Faith Communities
New Room Society
Table of Contents
week 6: risen
week 7: heart
Week 1: Maps
Week 5: death
Week 3: Encounter
Week 2: TABLES
Week 4: evaluation
Week 11: Word
week 14: intimacy
Week 10: Silence
Week 8: Hungry
week 13: celebration
Week 9: Character
week 21: blessing
Week 18: art
Week 15: capacity
Week 17: gratitude
Week 16: practicality
week 20: simplicity
Week 24: traveling companions
week 27: foolishness
Week 23: hospitality
Week 22: belief
Week 25: openness
week 28: restoration
Week 30: language
Week 29: grounded
Week 1: MAPS
Our lives are made of stories, some of which began well before you were even born. What are four or five of the stories that show your journey to this point in your life?
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God didn’t lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, even though that was the shorter route. God thought, If the people have to fight and face war, they will run back to Egypt. So God led the people by the roundabout way of the Reed Sea desert. The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18, Common English Bible (CEB)
“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
Credit: delfi de la Rua
How might that story be the most powerful of all?
How did you get here?
By this point in your church planting journey, you’ve no doubt crafted and polished a fairly satisfying answer to that question. But there’s a hidden story, too. There are things you intentionally leave out, parts you prefer not to think about.
What if someone else were writing your history, and knew all the secret thoughts, private misgivings, and wrong turns that don’t typically make it into the stories more commonly shared with the Board of Ordained Ministry? How might that map of your journey be even more powerful in the world than the two-minutes-smiling version?
And what if your story were not, in fact, made up of series of singular shining (or even dark) moments, but instead was simply built of a thousand upon a thousand frightened, then weary and dust-covered footsteps into an unknown place?
Sunday: One Thousand Dusty Footsteps
Morning Prayer from
The Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals
Week 1: Maps Day 1
Week 1: Day 1
Reframe your journey toward church planting. What might be the “thousand dusty footsteps” that you made on your way here? What were some of the trudging -- even fearful -- but certainly “non-Hollywood” markings on your true map?
Share some of the lower, dustier moments on your journey with your church planting peers today. Can you tell these stories in a way that both accepts and honors these parts of your travels?
Week 1 Maps: Day 2
Week 1: Day 2
Monday: Signs Along the Way
Week 1 Maps: Day 3
If you’ve ever tried geocaching, or navigating to a specific location using GPS coordinates, you’ve sometimes been surprised by a tiny gift left in the designated cache. A note, a small pine cone, even a little figurine.
It is customary, if you take the gift, to leave another one for the next person to find.
Share a story about an unexpected gift you found once you arrived at this point in your journey. What gift will you leave for the next person?
Week 1: Day 3
Tuesday: Unexpected Gifts
Week 1 Maps: Day 4
The first Polynesians came to the archipelago of Hawaiʻi not by accident, but by design, using their ancient arts of navigation and arriving at the then-uninhabited islands between 400-500 CE.
In 1976, a group of Polynesians revived their ancestors’ ability to read the stars and ocean swells, and repeated the ancient voyages in a canoe called Hōkūle‘a, or Star of Gladness.
Watch this video
In what ways has your journey been determinedly and profoundly intentional? How might you communicate the art of navigation toward God to those whom you encounter?
Week 1: Day 4
Wednesday: Hōkūleʻa and the Ancient Art of Navigation
Week 1 Maps: Day 5
Thursday: Signs, Seasons, Days, and Years
Week 1: Day 5
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” Genesis 1:14, 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
According to Genesis, the sun and stars were created not just to offer signs (for example, of God’s power, as shown in Psalm 147, or to lead the magi to the Christ child, in Matthew 2) but also for the purpose of marking passages of time.
How has God divided the story of your journey into seasons or years?
How has God used the created world to lead you here?
Week 1 Maps Day 6
“...the Psalms have a unique place in the Bible because most of the Scripture speaks to us, while the Psalms speak for us.” -- Athanasius of Alexandria
Find a translation of Psalm 147 and spend some time today working your way through it in prayer, either alone or with a church-planting friend.
How is this Psalm speaking thanksgiving for you or your friend?
How is this Psalm speaking intercession for you or your friend?
How is this Psalm speaking petition for you or your friend?
How is this Psalm speaking praise for you or your friend?How is this Psalm speaking blessing for you or your friend?
Week 1: Day 6
Friday: Praying Psalm 147
Saturday: Many Futures
Week 1: Day 7
“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” -- Robert Louis Stevenson
Suppose something happened during this season of your life to cause you to completely change course. Next week or next year you would wake up and no longer be a church planter.
Share two or three other life directions you can imagine God calling you toward.
How hard or easy is this process of describing your alternate futures? Why?
Week 1 Maps Day 7
Week 2: TABLES
Week 2: tables
Credit: Clark Young
Why is this called the “Tables Project” again? And why is communion such a critical part of your spiritual formation and the planting of a new faith community?
“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart…” Acts 2:46-47, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Who will eat this bread?
It’s an interesting photo, all these loaves waiting in their cabinet. Do you wonder what country this is? Think about all the different people who will be sustained -- for a bit -- with this simple food. Some will be depressed, others jubilant, still others in a rush, or bored, or hopeful. Some will be suffering with mental disorders, some will be famous, or poor, or newly married, or imprisoned. Some will be intensely grateful to assuage their hunger; others will not give the bread or it’s origins a thought.
These are the people to whom you are called. These are God’s people, all of them.
When God shares this holy meal of bread and wine with you, you are changed in both substance and soul. And you will help others be changed -- renewed, filled, nourished -- in the same way.
This is called The Tables Project because the foremost and most powerful work of the Kingdom happens at the table. The communion table, the kitchen table, the coffee table. All the tables of the world where God’s people are welcomed, loved, fed, and formed.
Week 2: Tables Day 1
With only four simple ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt), bread is quite simple to make. But it isn’t truly “fast” food, although this recipe promises artisan loaves in just 5 minutes:
No-Knead 5 - Minute Artisan Bread
The truth is, there’s more time that actually needed. You have to wait 2 hours for the dough to rise. And of course, a few minutes for kneading, and a second wait of 40 minutes or so for it to rise again. And about 30 minutes for baking as well.
Roughly, bread is 10 minutes of work, and 3 hours of waiting. How is that like -- or unlike -- your ministry work? Your spiritual formation?
Week 2: Day 1
Sunday: 5 Minutes and Waiting
Week 2: Day 2
“They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” Acts 2:46-47, The Message (MSG)
If you’ve ever lived in a small town in North America, you’re familiar with the Sunday crowds filling the local diners immediately after church lets out.
Can you make this holy tradition -- worship followed by a meal -- your act of prayer this week? Consider how people watching might like (or not like) what they see in your practice...
Week 2: Tables Day 2
Monday: Worship Followed by Meals
Week 2: Day 3
Take a few minutes to watch the following video on communion:
Communion: The Meal that Makes Us One
If God invited you to share something for “show and tell,” what simple story about your week could you share with someone? Call up one of your new faith community peers and ask them what their show and tell story of the week would be.
Tuesday: “Show and Tell Time from God”
Week 2: Tables Day 3
The Tables Project is built to center your spiritual formation and friendships around the communion table (church), the kitchen table (homes), and coffee tables (the local community). But tables are everywhere.
Spend some time in artful meditation building a collage of table imagery to remind you of the places where you have been formed, and where you are building faith communities. (Unsplash.com is a great resource for free imagery.)
Week 2: Day 4
Week 2: Tables Day 4
Wednesday: Table Collage Meditation
Week 2: Tables Day 5
Week 2: Day 5
Take a few minutes today to learn the story of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a thirteenth-century princess and queen who chose a life of asceticism even though she was royalty. She spent her life feeding the hungry and working in a hospital.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
What stories of scripture arise in your mind as you learn about this woman’s story? Is St. Elizabeth a woman whose ministry might influence your own?
Thursday: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Friday: Lectio Divinia: Wisdom’s Call to Table
Week 2: Day 6
Read, meditate, and pray on this scripture from Proverbs:
“Wisdom has built herself a house;
she has carved her seven pillars.
She has prepared her food, spiced her wine,
and she has set her table.
She has sent out her young girls [with invitations];
she calls from the heights of the city,
“Whoever is unsure of himself, turn in here!”
To someone weak-willed she says,
“Come and eat my food!
Drink the wine I have mixed!
Don’t stay unsure of yourself, but live!
Walk in the way of understanding!”
Proverbs 9:1-6, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Week 2: Tables Day 6
Week 2: Day 7
Saturday: Emmaus Table
Let this painting of one artist’s imagining of the Supper at Emmaus anchor your prayer time today. What questions, thoughts, and feelings arise for you?
Week 2: Tables Day 7
Credit: Andre J. Silvera, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Week 3: ENCOUNTER
Discerning the movement of God. Explore some stories of desert mothers and fathers who have experienced the presence of God.
“The road of cleansing goes through that desert. It shall be named the way of holiness.” — Isaiah 35:8, Septuagint (LXX) -- from John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
There’s a funny and illuminating story told of an early Christian ascetic living in the Egyptian desert around the third century AD.
This desert abba was a scribe, and a brother came to entreat him to copy a book. The scribe was engaged in deep contemplation, and as he copied, he left out some phrases, and completely omitted any punctuation.
Week 3: encounter
CREDIT: Anh Phan
punctuation. When the brother saw what had happened he said, “Abba, there are some phrases missing.” To which the desert father replied, “Go, and practice first that which is written, then come back and I will write the rest.”
Very often the best work of ministry happens in the margins, on the fringe, or, as one pastor put it, in the “white spaces” — the place between the letters and words, amid the things that are not being said.
When it becomes a challenge to know what God wants you to do, it can be fruitful to look in the places where everything and everyone else isn’t.
The ancient desert mothers and fathers excelled at this art, and can still guide you in it today…
Week 3: encounter Day 1
Sunday: What isn’t being said?
It’s easy to count words of instruction, theological textbooks, even scripture as your guide as you seek to be formed more closely into the image of God. Those are wonderful sources of authority.
But what is not being said? Whose voices are not being heard? Where are traditional methods, resources, or texts curiously silent?
Whom might you encounter in those deserts or white spaces, and what might you learn?
Week 3: Day 1
Week 3: encounter Day 2
Week 3: Day 2
The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years. Moses saw God in the desert. Jesus began his ministry there.
Why was the desert a place chosen by God for powerful spiritual formation? What deserts in your life are forming or have formed you? Share this story in a journal, or with a friend.
Monday: Places chosen by God
Week 3: Day 3
Amma Syncletia was a desert mother whose teachings were often about balance. She said, “We who have chosen this life must attain perfect temperance.”
How does the idea of balance fit with the asceticism of the desert mothers and fathers?
Where is there balance in your life? Where is balance missing?
Tuesday: Balance in the desert
Week 3: encounter Day 3
The monastery of St. Catherine is built in the shadow of Mount Sinai, where Moses saw God.
This video invites several powerful questions for reflection:
Reflect on the size of the monastery walls, in contrast with the people standing nearby.
Reflect on the size of the monastery, in contrast with the mountain.
How do you feel when you see the crowds at the top of the mountain? Does it ruin your sense of peace and majesty, or enhance it? Why?
Week 3: encounter Day 4
Wednesday: Scale and Humanity
Week 3: Day 4
Thursday: Spiritual formation and work
“A brother came to Abba Theodore and began to converse with him about things which he had never yet put into practice. So the old man said to him, ‘You have not yet found a ship nor put your cargo aboard it and before you have sailed, you have already arrived at the city. Do the work first; then you will have the speed you are making now.’”
— From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers,
On a scale of 1 (not great) to 10 (awesome), how hard are you working on the practice of making room in your heart for God to form you?
Week 3: encounter Day 5
Week 3: Day 5
Week 3: encounter Day 6
Friday: Abba Anthony and Abba Paul
This ancient Coptic icon depicts two famous desert fathers, Abba Anthony and Abba Paul. What stories and characteristics do you infer about the desert, and about these holy hermits, from the painting?
Week 3: Day 6
Week 3: encounter Day 7
Saturday: The prayer of stillness
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, there is a tradition called hesychasm (Greek: ἡσυχασμός, from ἡσυχία Greek esychía, "stillness, rest, quiet, silence”), which is the practice of prayerful stillness before God.
It is prayer without images, language, or other constructs.
How can you build hesychasm into your prayer life today?
Week 3: Day 7
Week 4: EVALUATION
CREDIT: Simon Schmitt
Where are you in your spiritual journey? How do you measure your growth in the image of God? Is that even possible?
“Spiritual formation, I have come to believe, is not about steps or stages on the way to perfection. It's about the movements from the mind to the heart through prayer in its many forms that unite us with God, each other, and our truest selves." Henri Nouwen
“Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18, Contemporary English Version (CEV)
How deeply are you growing into the image and likeness of God?
This question may feel pretty personal, even invasive, but it’s not an unusual one among the leaders of God’s people, who have long been working to become “mature” or “fully grown” in Christ, and to help others to do the same.
“God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13, Common English Bible (CEB)
Spiritual growth isn’t about what spiritual gifts you have, or how long you’ve been a follower; it’s about the ways God’s image has become clearer in you. In a single word, spiritual formation is about your Christlikeness.
One way to become spiritually mature is to practice the spiritual disciplines, and the way to know if you’re growing in Christlikeness is to regularly evaluate how your practice is growing. Or you might make use of John Wesley’s “Holy Club” questions (which you’ll find in the materials for this week). Maybe you’ll evaluate your spiritual fruits.
And in all these things, you’ll do well to confide in a trusted spiritual friend, and offer your support and encouragement in return.
Week 4: encounter Day 1
Sunday: Holy Club Questions
Week 4: Day 1
CREDIT: Simon Schmitt
In 1729, while John Wesley was a student at Oxford, he started a club with his brother Charles. Here is a list of some of the questions these “Holy Club” members routinely asked each other. What would happen if you went through these questions with a trusted friend?
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
4. Can I be trusted?
5. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
12. Do I disobey God in anything?
13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
16. How do I spend my spare time?
17. Am I proud?
18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
20. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
21. Is Christ real to me?
Week 4: Day 2
Week 4: encounter Day 2
Monday: The Inward Disciplines
Here’s a great list of spiritual disciplines:
You’ll notice there are two lists; the first is a list of 12 disciplines (from Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline) and a list of 14 disciplines (compiled by Dallas Willard).
Do some journaling today on the 4 inward disciplines. Can you rate yourself on a scale of 1 (not very disciplined) to 5 (deeply disciplined)?
The Inward Spiritual Disciplines
Week 4: encounter Day 3
Week 4: Day 3
Do some journaling today on the 4 outward disciplines. Can you rate yourself on a scale of 1 (not very disciplined) to 5 (deeply disciplined)?
The Outward Spiritual Disciplines
Tuesday: The Outward Disciplines
Do some journaling today on the 4 corporate disciplines. Can you rate yourself on a scale of 1 (not very disciplined) to 5 (deeply disciplined)?
The Corporate Spiritual Disciplines
Week 4: encounter Day 4
Week 4: Day 4
Wednesday: The Corporate Disciplines
Thursday: Spiritual Growth Evaluation for Laypeople
Week 4: Day 5
So far you’ve been thinking about and evaluating your own spiritual maturity or Christlikeness. But how you evaluate yourself and how you might evaluate a layperson might be different. Take time to watch this 5-minute video by Allen Parr on how to measure spiritual growth.
What do you think? How would you have heard these three measurement checkpoints when you were new in the faith?
Week 4: encounter Day 5
Week 4: Day 6
Friday: Lectio Divina: Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Week 4: encounter Day 6
Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation, and prayer intended to promote communion with God. It isn’t about studying a text, but rather allowing God to speak/be in you.
Let this scripture permeate your prayer time today. No agenda, no requests. Read. Listen. Allow.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23, New Living Translation (NLT)
All week you’ve been considering your spiritual formation, and how your spiritual growth might be measured.
Open a conversation with a trusted spiritual friend, or church planting peer.
Did you find yourself resistant to or accepting of the idea of evaluating your spiritual growth? Why? Where is the value in evaluating how deeply into the image of God you are growing?
Week 4: Day 7
Saturday: Acceptance and Resistance
Week 4: encounter Day 7
Week 5: DEATH
CREDIT: Marty Cauley
Why is dying so frightening? What does death have to do with planting and renewing? How are birth and death intimately tied together?
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-58, New International Version (NIV)
Week 5: Death
At the very heart of our Eucharistic liturgy we affirm, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." Does it feel strange to talk about death in a serious manner in this process? Why is that?
Death comes to all of us. Part of the reason we celebrate birthdays is that it a testimony that death, while it is certainly going to come, has not yet won the day. Our funerals are a way to say that death does not have the final word. It is estimated that more than half of The United Methodist Churches across the United States and Europe will close in the next decade as attrition takes place and it’s membership dies off.
How has this awareness of both the dying of church members and the dying of churches impacted your call? How does this “death tsunami” impact your passion to plant something new?
Week 5: Day 1
CREDIT: Marty Cauley
Sunday: The Inevitability of Death
Week 5: death Day 1
Monday: Am I dying?
Week 5: death Day 2
Are you afraid of death? Matthew O’Reilly has been part of many people’s last moment as a first responder in a metropolitan area. Listen to what he says about the three things people long for in their last moments. Do any of these questions ring true for you? If you knew you were going to die in one year, what would you do differently?
CREDIT: Ted Talk / Matthew O'Reilly: "Am I Dying?" The honest answer.
Week 5: Day 2
Week 5: death Day 3
Tuesday: Honest Talk About Death and God
Week 5: Day 3
Bad things happen to good people. Death rocks the lives of everyone. Children lose parents. Parents lose children. Beloved grandparents die. Tragedies happen. Sometimes it seems the world is running toward death with abandon.
Theodicy, in its most common form, is an attempt to answer the question of why a good God permits the manifestation of evil.
Take somebody to coffee or call up a friend and talk about this important question. How does it impact those who are called to plant something new?
Week 5: death Day 4
Wednesday: Walking Through the Valley
Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane at a pivotal moment and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.”
What would it mean for this to be your prayer today? Write a prayer that reflects this sentiment for your own life.
Week 5: Day 4
Thursday: Dying to Self
Week 5: Day 5
Week 5: death Day 5
Cross carrying is no fun. Late in his ministry Jesus explained that cross carrying was an inescapable part of being a disciple.
What things have had to die in you in order for God to use you fully? What things are still being cleared out of your life?
Friday: The “Friday Experience”
CREDIT: Youtube / S.M. Lockridge: It's Friday but Sunday's Coming
Friday is traditionally a day of fasting for those practicing the Christian faith. Whether it is giving up red meat, fasting of all food until 3 pm, or some other form abstinence, fasting acts as a reminder that there is death before there is resurrection. One of the great preachers of the twentieth century, S.M. Lockridge shares a few thoughts on Friday when it seems that death has won.
Journal about a time when you felt defeated and deflated. What did you learn from that “Friday experience?”
Week 5: death Day 6
Week 5: Day 6
Week 5: death Day 7
Saturday: Darkest Before the Dawn
“For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Phillipians 1:21
Take some time to journal today about the darkest moments in your life or calling. What glimmerings of hope brought you through?
How can those glimmerings bring others through their dark times as well?
Week 5: Day 7
Week 6: RISEN
CREDIT: Lan Pham
Have you ever wondered if sharing food is becoming obsolete? It’s a serious question, with far-reaching implications. And it speaks to our basic theology. Food is a necessity, certainly. But in first world countries food is also a status symbol (bulletproof coffee, anyone?), a luxury (Beluga caviar runs about $4,000 per pound), and ironically, a rapidly-expanding health hazard in the form of a wide range of nutrition-negative fare. Have you ever noticed how rare it is to find a church group that meets for a meal where the hosts don’t go “all out” to feed everyone? Methodists even make proud jokes about it.
How might our theology change if everyone agreed, any time the church met together, to share a simple meal of bread and soup, and perhaps even bringing one’s own bowl and spoon? Who might then feel welcome, where before they did not? And what else might be revealed?
What a hearty echo of the communion feast that sounds…
Week 6: Risen Day 1
Week 6: Day 1
Sunday: Master of the feast
What does it mean that the “stranger” from the Emmaus road was in fact the one serving as host at dinner? Does it make you ask who the strangers at the meal really are? Or, based on the host’s clear authority and affection, are there any strangers?
The next time you are sharing the Eucharist meal, consider how you think of the word “mine.” Who is Master in our lives? Who is Master in our travels, in our friendships, at our homes, and around our tables? How is that evident?
Spend some prayer time today using this painting to center and form your prayer.
Week 6: Risen Day 2
CREDIT: Christ at Emmaus by Rembrandt, 1648, Louvre
Week 6: Day 2
Monday: Visio Divina
Week 6: Risen Day 3
Tuesday: A gift to be Simple
Week 6: Day 3
A quick google of “simple recipes” will return lavish meals filled with ten or more items, including out-of-the-ordinary foods, exotic herbs, and other (artisanal, of course) cooking ingredients.
Start a discussion with a church-planting peer on the following question: Could Methodists be accused of over-complicating the communion meal?
Week 6: Risen Day 4
Week 6: Day 4
Wednesday: Meals and “Wakes”
New Testament scholar Robert Karris says: “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.”
Reflect or journal: Were family meals important in your life, growing up? Why was meal-sharing central in Jesus’ ministry? Why was it particularly important after his death?
SOURCE: Youtube / How to Make Sourdough Bread by Feel
Arrange to share two meals with a church-planting peer. Agree that each time one person will bring homemade bread, the other homemade soup. Bring your own bowl and spoon.
Here’s a rather mesmerizing video you could use to make your bread.
How does preparing for and sharing this simple meal affect the nature of your interaction?
Week 6: Day 5
Week 6: Risen Day 5
Week 6: Day 6
Friday: A silent meal
It is an ancient monastic tradition to share a meal in silence. Have you ever tried it? How would this change the nature of the meal and the participants, particularly if it were a regular practice?
Week 6: Risen Day 6
Saturday: Psalm 104
Week 6: Risen Day 7
CREDIT: Yamma Ensemble, Psalms 104 | ברכי נפשי את ה' - תהלים ק"ד
Week 6: Day 7
Spend some time in prayer and praise of the risen Christ as you listen to this Psalm in Hebrew. How does this Psalm communicate the power of the risen Lord?
Week 7: HEART
Week 7: Heart
Heart: It's easy to toss this word off as no more than a popular sentiment or emoji. What is the church’s understanding of the word "heart"?
“Discipleship...is a way to curate your heart, to be attentive to and intentional about what you love.” You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
Most people today consider the heart to be a source of or container for emotions. In the tradition of the church, however, your heart is much more than that.
Henri Nouwen, in the book Spiritual Formation, writes: "The word heart in Jewish-Christian tradition refers to the source of all physical, emotional, intellectual, volitional, and moral energies.”
CREDIT: Volkan Olmez
Your heart is much more than a metaphorical box of how you feel; it is the seat of your thoughts and actions as well. How well-disciplined your heart is determines the nature of your spiritual life and your connection with God. And where your heart is spiritually weak, that is where the fiercest attacks of the forces which oppose God will be directed.
You are what you love, and the hungers of your heart — the things you want, desire, or crave to have (or not have) — are learned.
Thus, right formation of the heart’s desires is one of the most important tasks you’ll ever undertake. In fact, your life — and in many ways, the lives of others — depends on your heart’s rightness before God.
Sunday: The Inward Disciplines of the Heart
Week 7: Day 1
David Bowden has become known for his spoken word poetry on the 12 spiritual disciplines. Choose one of Bowden’s four inward spiritual disciplines videos to experience as part of the formation of your heart today…
Meditation: “Chew” https://youtu.be/W0DizwDhxcQ
Prayer: “The Number” https://youtu.be/F0oSViHHlcs
Fasting: “Isaiah 58” https://youtu.be/kv0dAQznjgs
Study: “Says the Writer” https://youtu.be/t7unKmTTTJM
Week 7: heart Day 1
Simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. Which of these outward disciplines do you most resist? Why is that?
Why do some of these have more to do with things you are not buying, who you are not with, and that which you don’t hold on to? Spend time today exploring what “disciplines of abstinence” are, and why they might be important to God in your life.
Monday: The Outward Disciplines of the Heart
Week 7: Day 2
Week 7: heart Day 2
Tuesday: The Corporate Disciplines of the Heart
Week 7: heart Day 3
“Liturgies…grab hold of our guts through the power of image, story, and metaphor; that’s why the most powerful liturgies are attuned to our embodiment; they speak to our senses; they get under our skin. The way to the heart is through the body…” You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, by James K. A. Smith
What are your very favorite liturgies of worship? Call up a church planting peer and ask them this question, and share your own as well.
Week 7: Day 3
This 1871 painting by John Everett Millais called “The Boyhood of Raleigh” depicts the power of storytelling to inspire action. In this image, an experienced sailor dramatically tells stories of the seafaring life to two young boys, one of whom will grow up to become Sir Walter Raleigh.
What stories awakened the longing for God in your heart? Take a moment to send an email to a friend, and share a story that inspired you in some way to follow Jesus.
Week 7: heart Day 4
Week 7: Day 4
SOURCE: Public Domain / Wikipedia
Title: The Boyhood of Raleigh, 1871
Wednesday: The Stories that Awaken Longing
Thursday: Friendship of the Heart
Just as your spiritual formation is dependent on making room for God in your heart. The right kind of friendships can -- and have -- supported that formation in you.
Take time today to write and mail a letter (the old-fashioned kind!) to someone who has been key in your spiritual formation.
Week 7: Day 5
Week 7: heart Day 5
Practice doesn’t always make perfect. Sometimes practice makes permanent, and great care should be taken with the things you practice.
Start a discussion with a friend about how spiritual disciplines can become destructive. Where is the line between life-giving discipline and soul-killing law?
Week 7: Day 6
Friday: The Danger in Discipline
Week 7: heart Day 6
Saturday: Rituals and Liturgies
Week 7: heart Day 7
Week 7: Day 7
Any ritual can be directed toward or away from God. Consider the ritual of going shopping at the mall, for example, as contrasted with that of kneeling for prayer.
In your journal or meditation time, reflect on your most frequent daily rituals. Making coffee, spending time in silence, fixing dinner, or waiting in the carpool line to pick up a child…
How are your most frequent and regular rituals connected (or not connected) to the hungers of your heart? Can any of your rituals become more like liturgies? How might you shift some of your daily rituals to more rightly form your heart?
Week 8: HUNGRY
CREDIT: Flip Mroz
Week 8: Hunger
Our hungers are learned. This means that discipleship is less about study and more about reforming the desires of your heart to good and right ends. What are you hungry for?
“O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:1, New Living Translation (NLT)
Sometimes you’ll hear preachers or other religious leaders say, “Everyone wants to grow closer to God.”
But perhaps that’s not what you’re seeing in the world. Instead of a hunger for God, people have a hunger for Taco Bell, or Levi’s, or simply for people to like and value them.
The word courage comes from the French word for heart, or couer. Courage never means that you don’t feel fear, but that you do the right thing despite your fear. When your heart is strong, you make decisions that are hard, and also good. Otherwise, you simply to do what everyone else is doing, and seek to fill the hungers of your heart with Facebook, or shopping, or some other drug of choice.
How do you train your heart to be strong, and to hunger for the right things? James Smith, author of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit writes that “discipleship is a rehabituation of your loves.”
That’s what the Tables project is all about. Building right practices. Forming and reforming the heart for God.
Sunday: Daily Bread
Week 8: hunger Day 1
CREDIT: Breathe - Michael W. Smith
Until recently, it was the custom in many countries to gather food for only one day. Shopping was (and in some place still is) done daily in the market.
What if you only had what you needed for just one day? Would you feel anxious about tomorrow? Let this Michael W. Smith song form your prayer for today…
Week 8: Day 1
Week 8: hunger Day 2
John Piper, in his book A Hunger For God, writes, “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. [Your] soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
Talk today with a church planting peer about how much “room in your heart for the great” you feel you currently have.
Week 8: Day 2
Monday: How Much Room?
CREDIT: 1887 icon of Christ the Savior "Bread of Life"
Week 8: hunger Day 3
Week 8: Day 3
Tuesday: Visio Divina
This 1887 icon of Christ the Saviour “Bread of Life” (in Ukrainian: Христа Спасителя «Хліб Життя»), had disappeared during the Ukrainian War of Independence, and was only rediscovered in 2012.
Let this icon shape your prayer today. What does it speak to you about things lost, and recovered? What does it say about hunger, and heart?
Week 8: Day 4
Week 8: hunger Day 4
Wednesday: Setting Aside a Gift
“God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land into which I’m bringing you, and you eat the food of that country, set some aside as an offering for God. From the first batch of bread dough make a round loaf for an offering—an offering from the threshing floor. Down through the future generations make this offering to God from each first batch of dough.” Numbers 15:18-21The Message (MSG)
You have so many gifts from God today. What gift can you set aside to give to someone else in God’s honor?
Week 8: hunger Day 5
“My soul thirsts for you…” Psalm 63:1, New Living Translation (NLT)
Today, drink only water. Let it be your prayer. Ask God to make you hungry and thirsty for righteousness.
Thursday: Soul Thirst
Week 8: Day 5
Friday: Prayer Tree
Week 8: Day 6
CREDIT: Adel Gorgy
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons
In the tradition of Yoko Ono’s Wish Trees around the globe, create a prayer tree to express the hungers of your heart to God. Tie ribbons or tags with your prayers to your tree, and invite others to do the same.
Week 8: hunger Day 6
Week 8: hunger Day 7
Saturday: Taste and See
Week 8: Day 7
Read and listen today to the hymn “Taste and See,” written by James Moore.
You can find the words here: Hymnary.org
You can hear the recording here: Hymnary.org/tune
Week 9: Character
What are the characteristics of spiritual leaders? Who are the models and mentors you're drawing from?
“God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” Romans 8:29-30, The Message (MSG)
The foundation of holy leadership is character.
There are a few television evangelists who have made clear the difference between charisma and character. Charisma means you have the ability to inspire and excite others, but if there’s no character, a leader can quickly do more harm than good.
CREDIT: Nick Wilkes
Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
As a church planter, you are responsible for speaking the word of God, and demonstrating by your life the fruits of a godly character.
It’s not so very important how good a speaker you are, but it’s critical that you are a woman or man of holy character. That’s why this part of your training focuses so intensely on spiritual formation.
But it also focuses on spiritual friendship, because the best way to form good character is to model yourself after someone who has a strong image of God already growing within their life.
week 9: Character Day 1
Week 9: Character Day 1
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” Galatians 5:22-24, The Message (MSG)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23, English Standard Version (ESV)
Begin your week with a period of lectio divina on one or both versions of this scripture. Don’t study, parse, or exegete it. Let go of your agenda and see what God can do within you.
Sunday: Lectio Divina on the Fruits of the Spirit
Monday: Who are Your Mentors and Models?
Week 9: Character Day 2
Take time today to journal or reflect on three people who have formed and are forming you right now. What specific traits of their character are coming to strength in your life? What traits of theirs do you need to nourish more in yourself?
week 9: Character Day 2
Apple trees don’t have to focus on producing fruit; apples are a natural part of a healthy apple tree’s life.
Sometimes Jesus people get overly focused on trying to produce spiritual fruit. Good fruit is the Holy Spirit’s natural gift in a spiritually healthy person’s life.
Contact a church planting peer today and tell them what fruits you see being produced by God in their life.
Tuesday: Who Produces Spiritual Fruit
week 9: Character Day 3
Week 9: Character Day 3
Wednesday: Hypocrites and Actors
week 9: Character Day 4
Week 9: Character Day 4
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” Matthew 6:1, The Message (MSG)
The difference between public and private behavior is a measure of your integrity. How well do your public and private behaviors match? What would your faith community say if they saw your computer’s search history? How would your spouse or closest friend rate the alignment between your beliefs, your words, and your actions? Is there a message from God for you in these reflections today?
Can you pray with your camera? Use your phone to capture photos today that speak to you of spiritual fruit or character.
Send one to a church planting peer and tell them how this particular image puts you in mind of the holy character of a spiritual leader.
Thursday: Character Camera Prayers
week 9: Character Day 5
Week 9: Character Day 5
Friday: How Character is Often Revealed
Abba Poemen, one of the early desert fathers, was noted (and quoted) most often for his gift as a spiritual guide rather than for his desert asceticism. This is reflected in the name he was given by his students, which in Greek (ποιμήν) means “shepherd.”
Poemen said, “The character of the genuine monk only appears when he is tempted.”
Use this icon and wisdom of Abba Poemen today for your meditation.
Week 9: Character Day 6
week 9: Character Day 6
A young man was asked of his father’s beloved old work horse, “Can she run fast?”
“No,” he replied. “But she can stand fast.”
Suffering requires no special talent, but the ability to stand fast in the face of trial is a deep and powerful part of holy character.
Reflect today in your journal on how suffering has produced steadfastness within your character.
week 9: Character Day 7
Saturday: Standing Fast
Week 9: Character Day 7
Week 10: silence
How comfortable are you with silence? Can a leader be effective if they don’t speak? Where does silence live, anyway?
“My soul, wait in silence for God alone,
because my hope comes from him.”
Psalm 62:4-6, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
We live in an increasingly loud world.
It’s rare to see someone sitting silently, doing nothing. Rather, everywhere you look people are wearing headphones and scrolling endlessly through any number of social feeds on their phones, tablets, or laptops.
Would it be too strong a statement to say we have an addiction to noise, or signal, or activity?
Would it be too strong a statement to say we have an addiction to noise, or signal, or activity?
The Hebrew people were accustomed to noise as an accompaniment to God’s speaking at Sinai. Thunder and lightning and the sound of a trumpet preceded and accompanied the Word of God (Exodus 19). Centuries later, the prophet Elijah experienced storm and earthquake and fire on Sinai, and he was ready to listen to God speaking in the midst of the loud chaos. But God’s words were not in the noise, but in "a sound of sheer silence" (1 Kings 19).
Is it possible that in a culture of noise, Yaweh’s most profound and powerful message requires silence? Are there even any places of silence left in our world? And if not, how can the leaders of Jesus’ people create those places?
Would it be too strong a statement to say we have an addiction to noise, or signal, or activity?
Week 10: silence Day 1
week 10: Silence Day 1
Allow this scripture to anchor your prayer time today.
“Set a guard, Adonai, over my mouth;
keep watch at the door of my lips.”
Psalm 141:3, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Would it be too strong a statement to say we have an addiction to noise, or signal, or activity?
Sunday: Lectio Divina
“The fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others. There comes a new freedom to be with people. There is new attentiveness to their needs, new responsiveness to their hurts. Thomas Merton observes, 'It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them.... Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.’” Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
Take a full day, or even a set of hours, for silence and solitude. What other fruits grow in you as a result of your time?
week 10: Silence Day 2
Week 10: silence Day 2
Monday: The Fruit of Solitude
Week 10: silence Day 3
week 10: Silence Day 3
Tuesday: The Future of the Church
Watch the following video.
What do you think about his statement that “The future of the church is silence”?
SOURCE: youtube.com / Ian Morgan cron - SIlence.mpg
Read the Edgar Lee Masters poem titled Silence.
Which silences have you known? Which silences have you experienced today? Do some silences seem to have more power than others? Why?
Week 10: silence Day 4
Wednesday: Naming and Knowing Your Silences
week 10: Silence Day 4
Watch this TED talk from Nick Seaver.
Afterward, spend time in silence with your thoughts.
week 10: Silence Day 5
Week 10: silence Day 5
SOURCE: Youtube.com/ The Gift of Silence / Nick Seaver
Thursday: 18 Months of Silence
Week 10: silence Day 6
week 10: Silence Day 6
Friday: Listening Posts
Some colleges create special tables in a public space where students can go to talk and be listened to. These Listening Posts are staffed by volunteers, often retired people, who mostly listen, but sometimes also offer encouragement or support.
What might happen if you created a Listening Post in your faith community? How would it differ from one created in a public place?
Week 10: silence Day 7
week 10: Silence Day 7
Spend time today reflecting in your journal on the following quote:
“From time to time you will begin to touch the state of inward silence. What shall be your response to such an experience? But what shall you do? Nothing! Simply yield to the inward drawing. Yield to the wooing of your spirit. Your spirit is drawing you deeper within.”
Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (1648-1717), French mystic
Saturday: Quiet Journaling
God’s people have always had a special reverence for words, especially the words of Scripture. Have we lost the reasons for that? If so, what has it cost us?
“The Word of Scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love. And just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them as they are said to you, accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart, as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation... Do not ask 'How shall I pass this on?' but 'What does it say to me?' Then ponder this Word long in your heart until it has gone right into you and taken possession of you." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jesus people have a number of odd characteristics, and one of them is the notion that words have a special kind of life to them.
Not only does God speak things into existence (Genesis 1), but God in human flesh is also called “the Word”:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1-10, Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
One of the two primary United Methodist liturgies is called Word and Table, reminding us each time we worship that God is living and active among us in important ways through the proclamation of scripture and participation in communion.
We easily fall into argument over scripture, but how easily do we simply… fall into scripture? This week you’re invited to immerse yourself daily in God’s Word.
week 11: Word Day 1
As you embark on a week devoted to reading, visualizing, and meditating on God’s word, consider these four steps in the traditional lectio divina process: Read, reflect, respond, rest.
In your life and ministry, which of these four acts takes up the majority of your time? To which do you devote the least amount of time? Why is that?
Week 11: Word Day 1
Sunday: Read, Reflect, Respond, Rest
Week 11: Word Day 2
Allow this scripture and image to anchor your prayer time today:
“He giveth to the beast his food,
and to the young ravens which cry.”
Psalm 147:9, Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
week 11: Word Day 2
CREDIT: Hannes Wolf
Monday: Fed by God
The Hebrew people have always had a great care with holy scripture, and a long history of preserving God’s words in oral tradition. Today’s Lectio Divina honors that gift.
“When I found your words, I devoured them;
your words made me glad, they gave me joy;
you had me bear your name.”
Jeremiah 15:16, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
week 11: Word Day 3
Tuesday: Feasting on the Word
Week 11: Word Day 3
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.”
Psalm 119:105, New Living Translation (NLT)
You might choose to listen to this Psalm as you pray the scripture today.
Week 11: Word Day 4
Wednesday: A Light and Guide
SOURCE: youtube.com / Thy Word - MIchael W Smith and Amy Grant
week 11: Word Day 4
week 11: Word Day 5
Thursday: A Cutting Open
There is a powerful tension in this scripture, and it may be worth approaching it with caution. As you pray this scripture today, what feelings, thoughts, or messages arise?
“God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before him, and to him we must explain the way we have lived.” Hebrews 4:12-13, New Century Version (NCV)
Week 11: Word Day 5
week 11: Word Day 6
Week 11: Word Day 6
Friday: Chanting the Scripture
Read this short article about how the practice of chanting the scripture came about.
Cantillation: Chanting, Or Leyning, the Bible
For your daily scripture reading, go the website linked below and let the chanted word anchor your prayer time.
Let your favorite translation of Isaiah 43:1-7 be your Lectio Divina for the day.
1 But now Yahweh who created you, Jacob, and he who formed you, Israel says: “Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and flame will not scorch you. 3 For I am Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. 4 Since you have been precious and honored in my sight, and I have loved you; therefore I will give people in your place, and nations instead of your life. 5 Don’t be afraid; for I am with you. I will bring your offspring[a] from the east, and gather you from the west. 6 I will tell the north, ‘Give them up!’ and tell the south, ‘Don’t hold them back! Bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yes, whom I have made.’” Isaiah 43:1-7, World English Bible (WEB)
Saturday: A Word of Encouragement
week 11: Word Day 7
Week 11: Word Day 7
Week 12: Transparency
What is a “transparent” church leader? What are the benefits, what are the limits, and how can each of those be determined?
“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.” Mother Teresa
There’s a lot of conflict in the church around the ideas of transparency, confession, and authenticity.
Something is transparent when you can see through it. Perhaps it follows that a transparent person is someone you can see inside of; you can clearly see what their inner life looks like.
That could be good or bad, right?
CREDIT: Pahala Basuki
To hold up the idea of transparency in church leaders without carefully considering some of the implications could be theologically risky.
For example, James 5:16 says confession should be our common practice. But imagine a pastor confessing in the pulpit that he committed adultery in his heart every day. How does that sound in the ears of the people listening? The women, the children, his wife? Does that kind of transparency serve God or build up the church?
There are clearly boundaries and rules, but what are they? And how can you be spiritually formed in a way that allows transparency a good and right place within your living, teaching, and practice?
Week 12: Transparency Day 1
Biblical scholar Frederick Dale Bruner, co-author of The Holy Spirit: Shy Member of the Trinity writes that the Holy Spirit doesn’t call attention to itself, but points always toward Christ.
How can the idea of pointing to or clarifying the image and work of God help you make determinations about when transparency is good and right?
Sunday: The Shyness of the Holy Spirit
week 12: Transparency Day 1
Monday: Come as You Are
Week 12: Transparency Day 2
week 12: Transparency Day 2
It’s much easier to understand and navigate transparency before God than it is to understand and navigate transparency before other church leaders, those you are leading in the church, and those outside and watching.
Today during your private prayers, consider Jehoshaphat’s prayer before God (when he knew a great army was amassed against his people): “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chronicles 20:12, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Week 12: Transparency Day 3
Allow this image to ground your meditation time today. What’s growing in the greenhouse of your soul? How is transparency critical to the growth of that which lives within you?
week 12: Transparency Day 3
Tuesday: The Greenhouse of the Soul
CREDIT: Thomas Verbruggen
week 12: Transparency Day 4
Open a dialogue with an up-and-coming leader in your faith community. How do each of these guidelines help clarify when transparency is good and right? Are there other ways to discern this?
Will your confession or act of transparency strengthen relationships within this community?
Will your self-disclosure bring hope to those within the community who may be discouraged?
Will your word of transparency bring you help and ministry from those who are in a position to help you?
Will your openness point to God, and grow God’s glory among those who observe it?
Will this transparency enhance the community’s ability to comfort, forgive, and love one another?
Week 12: Transparency Day 4
Wednesday: Fruits of Transparency
SOURCE: Youtube.com / JJ Heller - Fully Known
Allow this song be your message and inspiration today. How can you give this kind of acceptance to the church leaders you are helping to form?
Week 12: Transparency Day 5
week 12: Transparency Day 5
Thursday: Fully Known
Week 12: Transparency Day 6
There’s something powerful about the notion of being burned, but not consumed (Exodus 3:2). How is the idea of transparency before God also about “burning, but not being consumed”?
Friday: Burning Bush
CREDIT: Marc Chagall (fair use)
week 12: Transparency Day 6
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Turn! Turn! Turn! - The Byrds
Saturday: Lectio, Audio Divina
Listen, reflect, and rest with God today in this scripture.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace”.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, (NRSV)
week 12: Transparency Day 7
Week 12: Transparency Day 7
Week 13: Celebration
CREDIT: Southeast Raleigh Table
Do Jesus people have a reputation as party people?
“Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” Luke 14:15, New Living Translation (NLT)
Why do Christians celebrate?
In the sanctuary there seems to be a fair amount of time spent changing the colors and look or the worship space, getting ready to celebrate one special season or another. In churches where the leaders wear vestments, there’s also a regular changing of stoles, chasubles, or robes in response to the celebrations of the season. The communion meal itself is often referred to as a celebration. Why so much festivity?
And why don’t Jesus people have more of a reputation as party-goers?
Even a brief survey of scripture shows a deep connection between Christian celebrations and gratitude. Not so much a gratitude for the things we have (which is a common cultural message these days), but for the people we are, and for those whom God has called, but has not yet been able to welcome.
The sight of a nearby joyful celebration often awakens a sense of wanting to join in, to be a part of the pleasure and the party. How better to draw the eye of those outside the faith than with our celebrations?
The kingdom of God is a party. How can you be a part of the festivities? How can you invite new leaders of God’s church to do the same?
Sunday: Putting off Celebration
week 13: Celebration Day 1
Read the poem "Putting the Good Things Away" from the book The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems With A Jewish Theme, by Marge Piercy.
"Putting the Good Things Away"
In what ways have you put off celebrating yourself or your God? What are three things you could do today to celebrate?
Week 13: Celebration Day 1
week 13: Celebration Day 2
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, Common English Bible (CEB)
The practice of Christian celebration is about hope that transcends circumstances.
A question to discuss with a new church leader: How can “party-going” Jesus people make a place within faith for the very real issues of depression? Talk about the relationship between celebration and depression.
Monday: Overflowing with Hope by Faith FaithCelebration
Week 13: Celebration Day 2
week 13: Celebration Day 3
Tuesday: A Mother’s Love
CREDIT: Public Domain
Week 13: Celebration Day 3
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Isaiah 66:13, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Let this image of the mother of Jesus guide your prayers for those who weep and those who rejoice.
week 13: Celebration Day 4
How has our culture weakened the idea of rejoicing by making it into an emotion-driven act?
Ask a new faith community leader: “Tell me a story about a time when you celebrated something but didn’t actually feel like celebrating…” What insights about God or your faith can you glean from this story?
Week 13: Celebration Day 4
Wednesday: Emotion or Devotion? FaithCelebration
Thursday: Psalm 113
week 13: Celebration Day 5
Let this simple singing of Psalm 113 be your prayer of praise and celebration today.
How could you create a gift like this song of praise for a friend who could use the smile and the hope?
Week 13: Celebration Day 5
CREDIT: Youtube.com / Jason SIlver Psalm 113 Live
In this brief video, Tony Compolo, author of The Kingdom of God is a Party: God's Radical Plan for His Family, shares how his Italian heritage (and his understanding of Jesus) taught him how to throw great celebrations.
How does your faith life reflect this attitude of celebration? How is this a “radical” act for a Christian? Send this to some of your new leaders in the faith community you are planting. What do they think of it?
Friday: Are You a Party Person?
week 13: Celebration Day 6
Week 13: Celebration Day 6
CREDIT: Youtube.com / "The Kingdom of God Is A Party with Tony Compolo"
Saint, not suit. :) Choose your birthday -- or another date with special meaning for you -- from this online calendar of saints.
Saint of the Day Calendar
Why did the church choose to celebrate the life of this particular saint? How can you incorporate this saint’s reflection of God into your life today? Learn the birthdays of your top 3 new faith community leaders and send them a saint!
Saturday: Your Birthday Saint
Week 13: Celebration Day 7
week 13: Celebration Day 7
Week 14: Intimacy
Intimacy isn’t all about sex, nor is it only between couples. What is the right place of intimacy in outreach and ministry?
“Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord resided on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called to Moses from within the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in plain view of the people. Moses went into the cloud when he went up the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:15-18, New English Translation (NET Bible)
Nearly everyone wants to belong. We want to be valued, loved, accepted. And at it’s deepest levels, that affinity and closeness builds intimacy; the nearer we draw to one another, the more we share and accept,
CREDIT: Xochi Romero
Week 14: intimacy
the more our relationship has the potential to truly change who we are at the core.
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18, New Living Translation (NLT)
It is not good for us to be fundamentally alone.
Intimacy also brings with it a deep vulnerability.
You want to grow closer to the people who are growing into church leadership, as well as the people who are making their way into your faith community. Building in space for intimacy requires great care.
Brennan Manning, in his book The Signature of Jesus, writes, “If we really knew the God of Jesus, we would stop trying to control and manipulate others ‘for their own good,’ knowing full well that this is not how God works among his people.”
How is this different from offering space for community, friendship, and intimacy to grow?
Sunday: The “Ingredients” of Intimacy
Week 14: intimacy Day 1
In your journal, list 10 or 12 people with whom you are in regular connection.
Try to name what kind of intimacy (emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, parenting-related, crisis-related, or other) you share with that person, and at what level. You could create a scale of 1 (not very intimate) to 5 (deeply intimate), and evaluate those relationships.
Journal about what “ingredients” went into giving you the levels of intimacy you share with each person. What insights can you gain about where intimacy comes from?
week 14: Intimacy Day 1
week 14: Intimacy Day 2
Week 14: intimacy Day 2
Joseph R. Myers, in his book The Search to Belong, describes four spaces in which we connect with other people: public, social, personal, and intimate.
In your work as a church planter:
1) Do you always have an agenda to move someone to another space? Why can that be good or bad?
2) Is your new faith community taking care to build multiple ways and spaces for people to connect? Do you trust people to choose their space?
Monday: Layers of Belonging
week 14: Intimacy Day 3
In Hindu, an Upaguru is “the teacher nearby.” It can be a person, animal, or object, but it has a lesson for you.
Spend today looking for the Upaguru which has a lesson for you about intimacy. What lesson is iit, and how does it build up, shift, or illuminate the image of God within you?
Tuesday: Learning from the Upaguru
Week 14: intimacy Day 3
Week 14: intimacy Day 4
week 14: Intimacy Day 4
In her book The Search for Intimacy, Elaine Storkey writes that “the conditions in which real intimacy can grow seem increasingly absent in the world we inhabit.”
Why do you think that is true (or not true)?
Open a conversation with a new leader in your faith community about this.
Wednesday: What’s Missing?
Exodus 24:15-18 describes a deeply intimate moment between Moses and God (and even the people of Israel). Let this be your scripture-prayer and your benediction for the day.
Thursday: Lectio Divina
Week 14: intimacy Day 5
week 14: Intimacy Day 5
Friday: The Art of Intimacy
Week 14: intimacy Day 6
week 14: Intimacy Day 6
CREDIT: Connections: Intimacy
Watch this very short video from the Metropolitan Museum on intimacy in classic art.
Which image do you resonate most with today? Why?
CREDIT: Come Thou Fount / Chris Tomlin / New Song Cafe
Let this 1757 hymn be your prayer for today.
(At the end of the song, there’s an interview with Chris Tomlin that may lift up your heart as well.)
Saturday: Audio Divina
Week 14: intimacy Day 7
week 14: Intimacy Day 7
Week 15: Capacity
Does your role as a faith community leader give you influence in more people’s lives than the average individual has? Why is it important to understand your capacity for ministry?
“You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped.” Psalm 18:36, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
You are only one person.
But the simple fact that one of your primary jobs is to train other leaders means your influence will go further than it might otherwise.
So not only must you carefully cultivate your inner ground for spiritual growth and maturity, you must also be aware of how you are growing other leaders for ministry.
SOURCE: Public Domain
And as you do the work to which God has called you, you will have to be mindful of how much you can actually take on.
You need to know what your capacity is. Not so much your capacity for being formed in the image of God, but your human capacity for powerful spiritual friendships.
Because you are human. Divinely called and powered by the Holy Spirit, but humanly limited.
Pastors burn out all the time. Sadly, there’s almost something culturally expected about it. There’s a worldly undercurrent of whispering which calls pastors who burn out “committed.”
But here’s a stark observation about that: the drive to exceed your capacity does not come from the forces that serve God. So it’s important to know who, specifically, you are committing yourself to. Because it’s not God who intends for you to burn out.
So if you intend to serve God, you must know your human limits, or else be used by other gods.
week 15: Capacity Day 1
Sunday: Gratitude for the “Large Place”
Week 15: Capacity Day 1
“From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place.” Psalm 118:5, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Think about the last time you found profound relief in a trying time. Can you describe the spiritual, emotional, or (perhaps) physical “large place” that God answered you with?
This goes well with Psalm 18:36. Spend time today in gratitude for the wide steps and large places God has given you.
How many people can you actually be close spiritual friends with?
In the early 1960s, Edward T. Hall identified four spaces of human interaction: public, social, personal, and intimate. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number).
Take a look at the list below. Can you name the people in your first three social groups? What will have to change as you build significant leadership for your faith community?
Intimate: ~ 5 people
Personal: ~ 15 people
Social: ~ 50 people
Public: ~ 80 people
Monday: Choose Carefully
Week 15: Capacity Day 2
week 15: Capacity Day 2
week 15: Capacity Day 3
Week 15: Capacity Day 3
Here’s an interesting article in The New Yorker about “Dunbar’s Number” (which says you can only maintain stable relationships with about 150 people) and social media.
Open a conversation today with a church planting peer about the best ways to limit and use the power of technology in your call to form a new faith community.
Tuesday: Facebook and Capacity
week 15: Capacity Day 4
“Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap.” Luke 6:38, New English Translation (NET)
Allow this scripture to be your prayer today. Ask God if there is a message in here for you with regard to the choices you are making about who you will build spiritual friendships with.
Week 15: Capacity Day 4
Wednesday: Getting More than You Give
Spend time today with this illustration of Ruth and Naomi. What feelings, memories, or invitations arise for you as you allow the image to form your prayers?
week 15: Capacity Day 5
Thursday: Spiritual friendships prayer
CREDIT: Arthur Szyk (artist), Creative Commons
Week 15: Capacity Day 5
“Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords And strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.”
Isaiah 54:2-3a, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Journal or meditate today on this scripture. What messages seem to rise to the surface for you, with regards to your capacity for the work you’re called to?
Week 15: Capacity Day 6
Friday: Capacity Building
week 15: Capacity Day 6
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Your elusive creative genius / Elizabeth Gilbert
Saturday: Capacity and Plodding
week 15: Capacity Day 7
Week 15: Capacity Day 7
There’s a wonderful TED Talk by author Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity that has a brilliant nugget for pastors. She says,
“I'm a mule, and the way that I have to work is I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly.”
How does the image of faithful daily plodding (and for her, the intersection of “mulishness” and a sort of divine creative spirit) inform your desire to get started building your faith community and the leadership of your community?
Week 16: Practicality
Methodists are known for their no-nonsense, boots-on-the-ground practicality. Will this be a hallmark of your ministry? How will you teach it?
“So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message (MSG)
Methodist founding father John Wesley wasn’t big on publishing theological volumes. He was a highly practical man. This worked out well given the particular challenges of the North American frontier in the 18th century.
In essence, when something or someone is “practical,” they are grounded in doing (or practicing) rather than thinking of, talking about, or studying about doing. Practice over theory. Action over consideration of action. Raw, unfiltered experience over safe, curated research.
You’ve spent an enormous amount of time in study getting to this point in your ministry. If you were to give yourself a score from one (I’m deeply in study mode) to 10 (I’m in action mode), where are you as you transition deeply into your new faith community?
How hard will it be for you to shift into a higher mode of practice, rather than study? Why will that be a challenge?
How will you reassure your new leaders that they too, must find a balance between study and practice?
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582)
Let this quote from a Carmelite nun be the starting point for your silence before God today. Then share the quote, and any insights that are helpful, with your new faith community leaders.
week 16: Practicality Day 1
Week 16: Practicality Day 1
Sunday: Hands and feet of Jesus
week 16: Practicality Day 2
Week 16: Practicality Day 2
Monday: The Functional, Practical Body
This video offers some thoughts on what -- practically speaking -- it means to be the body of Christ.
The Work of the People
Respect, care, suffering, honor.
Journal today about how these statements have actually played out in your ministry in the past months. Will that look different in the coming months?
What are some of the practical implications of love? Why do interpretations differ so widely?
The Work of the People
Open a respectful conversation this week with someone whom you already know disagrees with you in fairly big ways. The conversation can be about anything. What is it like to remain in respectful relationship with people who hold vastly different beliefs? How good are you at this? Is it important? Why?
Week 16: Practicality Day 3
week 16: Practicality Day 3
Tuesday: Known by Love, or by Something Else?
Week 16: Practicality Day 4
Wednesday: What’s the Opposite of Practical?
week 16: Practicality Day 4
Theoretical? Useless? Unrealistic?
Open a dialogue today with one or more of your new church leaders:
Why is practicality a valuable characteristic for Methodists? What is the alternative to being a practical follower of Jesus?
Thursday: May God Protect Your Mess
Week 16: Practicality Day 5
week 16: Practicality Day 5
In this TED Talk, Reshma Saujani explains why we should teach girls bravery, not perfection. Why is our society so focused on perfection? How does this play out in a faith community’s expectations of you and the other leaders?
This week, pray God’s protection over the necessary messiness and imperfections of the leaders of your new faith community, and your work together. Can you also find another way to help your leaders accept their imperfections?
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Reshma Saujani / TED 2016
“This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:35, Common English Bible (CEB)
Depending on your age, you may remember this iconic pop art as a stamp, but this is by far its most practical incarnation. Scroll down on the Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_(sculpture) to the “spin-offs” of this image.
Why do people so often equate love with a feeling rather than the practical work it is?
Week 16: Practicality Day 6
Friday: How Practical is Your Love?
Artist: Robert Indiana
Copyright: Public Domain
week 16: Practicality Day 6
week 16: Practicality Day 7
Week 16: Practicality Day 7
Why did Jesus choose bread and wine as the elements for communion?
Over a simple meal with a church-planting peer or a rising leader in your new faith community, open a dialogue about some of the aspects of Jesus’ practical nature.
Saturday: Practical Worship
Week 17: Gratitude
CREDIT: Annie Spratt
Gratitude seems like a simple and good thing for Jesus people. But what are some of the subtleties around molding your life into a more grateful shape?
“Let them give thanks unto Jehovah for his loving-kindness, and for his wondrous works to the children of men; for he hath satisfied the longing soul and filled the hungry soul with good.” Psalm 107:8-9, Darby Translation (DARBY)
In her book Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer, Maya Angelou writes, "Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
Gratitude is both a place to settle your life, and a way to become more fully formed into the image of God.
But what at first seems a simple act, a simple way of being, can also illuminate darker emotions, situations, and struggles. Consider, for example, the woman who refuses to leave her abusive spouse, and instead expresses what is for her a very deep sense of gratitude for him. How is vulnerability linked to thankfulness? Where is the balance? How can even God-inspired expressions be turned away from the good?
Another issue: Is gratitude an emotion? What if you don’t feel it?
It is well to become a person who thinks theologically about characteristics which are commonly held as “good.” How can this week’s focus on gratitude help you develop greater discernment? How can your gratitude be wholly holy, and therefore harder for the forces which oppose God to hijack or redirect for darker purposes?
Enjoy watching these two simple videos of gratitude.
What are you inspired to do?
Week 17: Gratitude day 1
Sunday: Video Gratitude
week 17: Gratitude Day 1
week 17: Gratitude Day 2
Read this article by researcher Amie M. Gordon, who studies the role of gratitude in close relationships.
5 Ways Giving Thanks Can Backfire
Where do you agree or disagree? Open a conversation with someone in your faith community about the ways gratitude might not be a good response.
Week 17: Gratitude day 2
Monday: Can Giving Thanks Backfire?
Week 17: Gratitude day 3
week 17: Gratitude Day 3
Tuesday: Thank like a Methodist
Lots of people enjoy making gratitude jars or lists or journal entries. Some people post photos of things they are grateful for on Facebook.
What are some practical ways to express gratitude?
Wednesday: The Antidote to Fear
week 17: Gratitude Day 4
SOURCE: Youtube.com / The price of invulnerablity: Brene Brown at TEDxKC
Week 17: Gratitude day 4
How is it that both profound fear and great joy can be at the heart of vulnerability? Open a conversation with your new faith community leaders about this short talk from Brene Brown:
“Faith minus vulnerability equals extremism.”
“In this world, somehow an ordinary life has become synonymous with a meaningless life.”
“You cannot selectively numb emotion. When you numb fear, you also by default numb joy.”
Thursday: But What if You Don’t “Feel” It?
Week 17: Gratitude day 5
week 17: Gratitude Day 5
"When you give and carry out acts of kindness, it’s as though something inside your body responds and says, ‘Yes, this is how I ought to feel." -- Rabbi Harold Kushner
It’s good to feel inspired and grateful. But what happens if you don’t “feel” like being grateful, or kind? Spend time in prayer over this today. What is God’s message to you?
week 17: Gratitude Day 6
Friday: Snail Mail of Thanks
Week 17: Gratitude day 6
It’s easy and fast to communicate online. When was the last time you dug out pen and paper (and hunted everywhere for an envelope and stamp)? When was the last time you sent or received a letter from a friend?
Today make your prayer of gratitude by putting pen to paper, and sending a letter of thanks to someone for whose life and friendship you are grateful.
Saturday: Sing Your Gratitude
Week 17: Gratitude day 7
week 17: Gratitude Day 7
It doesn’t matter if you are a singer. This simple “Wesleyan” mealtime blessing can be sung to the tune of Old 100th (which you may know as the Doxology):
Be present at our table, Lord.
Be here and ev’rywhere adored.
Thy creatures bless, and grant that we
may feast in paradise with thee.
Here are some more verses you might add:
Week 18: Art
You might like it, or like to make it, but what does art really have to do with Jesus people? What’s the theology of art?
“In the beginning, God created…”
God and art. What does that make you think of?
The Sistine Chapel comes to mind for many people. Where better to experience God as the Maker of all the earth, and of humankind in particular?
But there’s so much more. “It is good,” God said, while surveying creation. As a creation of God, you too are a maker. You are at your most elemental when you are doing the very things God did…bringing new good creations into the world.
CREDIT: Tim Arterbury
Which brings up some questions: What makes an artistic creation “good”? Is there such a thing as “bad” art? Is everyone -- no matter how well they can draw, paint, or fold origami -- fundamentally an artist?
Take time this week to consider your nature as an artist and maker; you may need to uncover and reclaim things about yourself that God gave you, but which you’ve denied. Or perhaps you will simply enjoy expressing your artistry, or helping someone else be more closely connected to their own creative Spirit.
CREDIT: Public Domain
Week 18: Art Day 1
This image of God as the architect of the universe dates from the early 1200s. For most medieval scholars, science (especially geometry and astronomy) were linked directly to the divine. What’s the connection? How has our cultural mindset changed?
Allow this image to ground and form your prayer today.
week 18: Art Day 1
Sunday: Visio Divina: God the Geometer
week 18: Art Day 2
Monday: Art and Making Disciples
Week 18: Art Day 2
Spend time today just “arting” around. Watch this short 1-minute video, then draw the number 2 and make a swan out of it. Doodle, paint, or sketch as you consider the questions raised by Stanley Ka Chun Chan, the maker of this video. Why did his art become complicated? Why did the ending of his video feel a lot like “making disciples”?
SOURCE: Vimeo.com / What is Art?
Tuesday: Lectio Divina: Beauty for Ashes
week 18: Art Day 3
Let this form your prayer today. Read, reflect, pray, contemplate.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:1-3, New King James Version (NKJV)
Week 18: Art Day 3
CREDIT: Tim Arterbury
SOURCE: Vimeo.com / The Art of Making, Alma Flamenca
Week 18: Art Day 4
This is a film about three artists: the musician, the one who makes her instrument, and the videographer. Here are some questions to reflect on with a new church friend:
How does an instrument maker feel when someone plays that instrument? What if they play poorly?
Who is the one telling the story of your life? Why is it important that a leader of a community of Jesus people be a good storyteller?
Wednesday: Art, and Art, and Art
week 18: Art Day 4
Week 18: Art Day 5
week 18: Art Day 5
“Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness.” Genesis 1:31, The Voice (VOICE)
This is a less well-known translation of the Bible. How does it open a new prayer for you?
Week 18: Art Day 6
Art is everywhere. But you have opinions, don’t you? You feel differently about the the Mona Lisa than you do about hip hop, or functional pottery, subway graffiti, or the drawings on your refrigerator that a child gifted you with.
Open a conversation with a new church leader: What makes art “good”?
Friday: What Makes Art “Good”?
week 18: Art Day 6
week 18: Art Day 7
The Greatest Artist of All Time:
SOURCE: Youtube.com / The Greatest Artist of ALl Time (ft. Jenny Snipstead)
Week 18: Art Day 7
Saturday: Spoken Word Meditation
Week 19: Food
Week 19: food
Why does the food we eat matter to God? How is food a physical embodiment of God’s practical grace, given to all creation?
“Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
You’re deep in the middle of the Tables Project, which centers entirely around spiritual formation and the building of Jesus-connected friendships. You’re deep in the middle of the Tables Project, which centers entirely around spiritual formation and the building of Jesus-connected friendships. Why is there so much emphasis on food, eating, communion, kitchens, and meals?
TITLE: Some Have Entertained Angles Unawares
CREDIT: Edward Clifford, Public Domain
Food is essential to life, and Jesus was a master of story. He used the most common of life needs and social habits to illustrate the gospel message: Welcome the stranger, feed the poor, share what you have.
Your body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and as a result, God desires that you keep it healthy, so there are theological underpinnings for everything that you eat and share at table.
There is certainly danger here. Food is easy to take for granted, hoard, or abuse. It can be used to control, suppress, and coerce. But food can also be a source of blessing, nourishment, and sustenance.
This week, spend some time considering your connection to Christ and the physical and spiritual nature of the ways you and the hungry of the world are fed.
Sunday: Vegetarian Fare and Prayer
week 19: Food Day 1
Week 19: food Day 1
“And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29, English Standard Version (ESV)
Before we ate meat (Genesis 9:3) we were vegetarians. Eat no meat this week, and let this be your prayer for the earth and all it’s creatures.
week 19: Food Day 2
Week 19: food Day 2
Monday: The First Gift
Take a moment to read this article from Christianity Today:
“Digesting Grace: Why the Food We Eat Matters to God,” by Josh Bishop.
Over a meal with a church planting peer or new faith community leader, consider this powerful and relevant question raised by the author:
“Is it possible to eat this food in ways that better respond to God's gifts than other ways?”
Week 19: food Day 3
Tuesday: Food and Feeling
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.” Proverbs 15:17 English Standard Version (ESV)
If you followed the call of Sunday’s Table Project message, you are in the middle of a week of vegetarian eating. Journal for a while today about the connection of food to feeling. Write down some memories where an enormous meal was shared in misery, or a simple one was offered with Christ’s joy.
week 19: Food Day 3
Wednesday: Visio Divina: The Unearned Gift from God
CREDIT: Maciejowski Bible, circa 1250, Public Domain
week 19: Food Day 4
Allow this 13th century illustration of the Israelites receiving manna from heaven center and guide your prayer today. What feelings arise? What message from God do you hear?
Week 19: food Day 4
Week 19: food Day 5
Take a moment to read the poem “Tulips” by Denise Duhamel.
How do you, as a leader of Jesus people, speak to this common cultural message about women and food?
week 19: Food Day 5
Thursday: Cultural Messages and Jesus People
SOURCE: Youtube.com / The LIfe of Saint Augustine explainED
Friday: Patron Saint of Beer
St. Augustine of Hippo’s story is powerful, but in this video, it’s also a little bit humorous.
Augustine of Hippo -- a life of indulgence, then faith
Did this video bother you, or make you smile? How do you suppose St. Augustine got to be the Patron saint of beer?
week 19: Food Day 6
Week 19: food Day 6
Saturday: Hasty Pudding
week 19: Food Day 7
Read chapter 5 from The Little Flowers of Assisi, “How Brother Juniper Took Certain Little Bells From The Altar, and Gave Them Away For The Love Of God.”
Little Flowers of St. Frances
Over a simple dinner, open a conversation with your church leaders about what strikes you most deeply about the story… In particular, why and how can sharing a meal bring healing?
Week 19: food Day 7
Week 20: Simplicity
Week 20: simplicity
We are forever decluttering our life, or organizing our closets. How is the discipline of Christian simplicity different from what our self-help gurus advise?
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.” Henry David Thoreau
While standing in the checkout line in your local grocery, you may have flipped through the magazine deceptively titled “Real Simple.”
Not much “simple” about it, is there?
CREDIT: Masayoshi Yanase
It is, of course, primarily a collection of things to buy that promise to “simplify” your life. A breadbox that doubles as a cutting board, a set of brushes to give you a “quick salon-quality blowout at home,” a chore chart app that allows parents to track their children’s weekly tasks and assign monetary value to each.
Why does our culture point to all these consumer goods as the clearest and most obvious way to simplicity?
18th century Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer France Fénelon frequently urged his friends to live a quiet life. To one he wrote: “Your mind is too much taken up with your circumstances, and this hinders you from understanding the mind of God.... I think it is such a hindrance to the kind of quiet meditation in which God reveals Himself. You must learn to be humble and simple.... Be content with leading a simple life.”
Is this a greater challenge for the leaders of Christ’s church today than it was is Archbishop Fénelon’s time?
We live in an age of religious complexity, a time of programs, organizations, study series, and methods. Where then shall God’s people find peace and simpleness of heart?
How will you show them?
Spend a few minutes with this video from Shane Claiborne.
How are you being impacted by God’s formation of a “temple” among his people? How will you live in the tension between the demands of our culture that you (a ministry leader) build what the world expects, and what God expects?
Sunday: A Simpler Society?
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Shane Claiborne - The Simple Way
Week 20: simplicity Day 1
week 20: Simplicity Day 1
Monday: The Author of Confusion
week 20: Simplicity Day 2
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as we see in all the Churches of the Saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33, 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons, power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc.” (2113)
Open a conversation with a new church leader about idolatry. How is idolatry related to this week’s theme of simplicity? Where does idolatry exist in its strongest or most subtle forms in our society?
Week 20: simplicity Day 2
week 20: Simplicity Day 3
“When I came to you, my friends, to preach God's secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning. For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. So when I came to you, I was weak and trembled all over with fear, and my teaching and message were not delivered with skillful words of human wisdom, but with convincing proof of the power of God's Spirit. Your faith, then, does not rest on human wisdom but on God's power.” 1 Corinthians 2, Good News Translation (GNT)
Read, think, pray, and act on this scripture of the day.
Tuesday: Lectio Divina: Simple Message/Messenger
Week 20: simplicity Day 3
Week 20: simplicity Day 4
Wednesday: Photo journal of Simplicity
Spend some time today shooting or collecting a handful of photos that resonate with the idea of holy simplicity.
Here are some online resources that may help:
1. Wikimedia Creative Commons
2. Flickr’s Creative Commons
3. Unsplash Creative Commons
How can your calling more closely resemble your collection of “simplicity” images?
week 20: Simplicity Day 4
week 20: Simplicity Day 5
Carmelite monk and author of The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence remarked:
“Never tire of doing even the smallest things for [God], because He isn’t impressed so much with the dimensions of our work as with the love in which it is done. And we should not be discouraged if we fail in the beginning. The practice would eventually cause our efforts to become a pleasure habit that we would do without thinking....
We should simply develop an attitude of faith, hope, and love. We need not be concerned about anything else. It simply is not important, and should only be regarded as the means of getting to the final goal of being entirely lost in the love of God.”
What simple act of ministry will you undertake today, with a heart entirely lost in the love of God?
Thursday: What God is Impressed With
Week 20: simplicity Day 5
“Haiku” is the shortest form of poetry in the world.
The old pond-
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.
Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)
Translated by Fumiko Saisho
The process of building a new faith community, a strong spiritual friendship, or a heart shaped after God’s own can feel intensely complex. Re-envision your church, a friendship, or your own life as a haiku. If you only had three short lines to describe it, what would they be?
Friday: Haiku Ministry, Friendship, and Heart
Week 20: simplicity Day 6
week 20: Simplicity Day 6
“Sister Josefa Menendez was a sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart and a mystic. Let her photo (“The mystic who wore an apron”) and her conversation with God be your ground and meditation today...
Jesus said to her:
Leave yourself in My hands, Josefa. I will use you as seems best to Me. What of your littleness and weakness ... no matter. ... All I ask of you is to love and console Me. I want you to know how dearly My Heart loves you, how great are the riches it contains, and you must be like soft wax that I may mould you to My liking.
Josefa's response was simple and single-hearted:
Would that the whole world knew the secret of happiness. There is but one thing to do: love and abandon oneself. Jesus Himself will take charge of all the rest.
week 20: Simplicity Day 7
Week 20: simplicity Day 7
Saturday: Simplicity of Heart
Week 21: Blessing
How can you both be and speak the blessing of God in our world?
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
Numbers 6:24-2, 6, King James Version (KJV)
God has blessed you abundantly.
And the blessing of God naturally multiplies itself when it falls on the open hearts of receptive people.
How well do you return the blessings of God? Do God’s blessings flow through you to others, or do they fill only your own thirsty soul, then remain bottled up there?
CREDIT: Caroline Veronez
Week 21: blessing
You already know about “saying the blessing” at meals. Even people outside the church often do it. And you are certainly familiar with the idea of being the hands and feet of Jesus, or being a blessing in the world.
But how frequently do you speak God’s blessing on other people?
When you bless others, you bring them God’s goodness.
Like the leavening in dough, the act of speaking God’s blessing upon others brings life and lift to an increasingly deadened and weary world.
Is your leavening raising the spirits of a tired planet into the refreshment and love of God?
Sunday: A New (Old) Song
“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” Psalm 33:3, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Begin your week with Michael Gungor’s "Doxology” and an inner naming of your blessings or attitude of thankfulness.
How do the different movements in the music change the blessings you think of during your prayer?
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Michael GUngo "Doxology"
week 21: Blessing Day 1
Week 21: blessing Day 1
The United Methodist Book of Worship has many spoken blessings from a number of faith traditions. Choose one from numbers 560 to 566 to create a piece of mail art to send to someone in your new faith community who could use the blessing of God in his or her life.
week 21: Blessing Day 2
Monday: Illuminated Blessing by Mail
Week 21: blessing Day 2
Tuesday: Lectio Divina: 3 Reasons to Bless
week 21: Blessing Day 3
Do a slow, meditative reading of the following three scriptures today.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.”
Proverbs 18:21, 16:24, and 12:25, King James Version (KJV)
Your words of blessing have great power. Contact a new faith community leader today with a blessing for them of soul-sweetness and health...
Week 21: blessing Day 3
CREDIT: Jeremy Bishop SOURCE: Unsplash.com
week 21: Blessing Day 4
Christians have long used salt as a symbol of purification and blessing, especially in connection with baptism.
The first image below is of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the world’s largest salt flat, a valuable natural resource of salt and lithium. The second is a photograph by Jeremy Bishop titled “The tides in our veins.”
Allow these two photographs to support your time of visio divina today.
Wednesday: Visio Divina: Salt of the Earth
Week 21: blessing Day 4
CREDIT: Sandra Chile SOURCE: Unsplash.com
week 21: Blessing Day 5
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Blessed Be Your Name - Matt Redman
Thursday: In All Seasons of Life
“You give and take away / My heart will choose to say, / ‘Lord, blessed be Your name.’”
From Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name
This hymn of blessing was written in the spiritual and emotional aftermath of the events of 9/11. Reflect in your journal: How does blessing alter the experience of dark times?
Week 21: blessing Day 5
SOURCE: Youtube.com / God Be In My Head - John Rutter
Friday: Imago Dei: God Be in My Head
Week 21: blessing Day 6
week 21: Blessing Day 6
How is the image of God growing in you? Let this ancient song be your meditation today.
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.
From the Sarum Primer, 1558.
In ancient Jewish tradition, the sheva brachot (Hebrew: שבע ברכות) are seven blessings celebrated at wedding feasts.
Let your meditation time be a slow progression through the sheva brachot. Which blessing in particular speaks to your heart today?
Saturday: From Wine to Perfect Joy
week 21: Blessing Day 7
Week 21: blessing Day 7
Week 22: Belief
CREDIT: Dine Reichmuth
You believe very particular things. But do you know how beliefs are formed, and what power they actually have?
“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” Joan of Arc, from Maxwell Anderson's play Joan of Lorraine
If you were offered a million dollars to believe that you were a rhinoceros, you’d struggle. And fail, of course, although it might be a funny few minutes.
You can’t force yourself to believe something.
So how is it that you hold certain beliefs? How are beliefs linked with actions? What kind of power do beliefs have? And what influence do you have, when it comes to instilling or inspiring particular beliefs in others?
Whose work is the growing or shifting of belief; yours or God’s?
These are important questions for a leader of a faith community, and there are helpful answers, even if you never heard anyone talk about this in Divinity School.
(As you already know there are a lot of things you didn’t learn in Divinity School. Some of those things are a pretty big deal.)
The Nicene creed established much of what is now known as orthodox Christian teaching on the subject of God and the Trinity.
Open a conversation with your rising church leaders:
How do the statements in this creed cause you frustration? Joy? Peace?
Since we act -- rather than think -- our way into belief, how can you link something from the Creed with things that you’re living out or doing this week?
Additional information and resources
Week 22: Belief Day 1
Sunday: Credo (I believe)
week 22: Belief Day 1
week 22: Belief Day 2
Monday: Imago Divina: Joan of Arc
CREDIT: Annie Louisa Robinson Swynnerton (1844–1933), Public Domain
Week 22: Belief Day 2
If you would like to read a bit of Joan of Arc’s story before spending time with God using this painting of Joan of Arc to ground you today, you can look here:
Saint Joan of Arc
week 22: Belief Day 3
Open a conversation with a church planting peer about the specific characteristics in one or more persons who helped bring you to faith… Was it genuine interest or curiosity? A skill for listening or asking great questions? Patience? Humility? Wisdom? Other traits?
What are the character traits in you that will inspire others to believe the things about God that you believe?
Week 22: Belief Day 3
Tuesday: Inspiring belief in others
week 22: Belief Day 4
Week 22: Belief Day 4
“We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our desires and various pleasures too. We were spending our lives in evil behavior and jealousy. We were disgusting, and we hated other people.” Titus 3:3, Common English Bible (CEB)
Journal today about the power of belief to create change in the world. Try to be very specific and granular: find the places in your own life where you believed something, and as a result, there was a great (or small but significant) change for the better.
What was the catalyst that gave power to this change? What gave you the energy to make the shift?
Wednesday: Catalyst for change
week 22: Belief Day 5
One of the most powerful ways to influence others is by watching for open doors, or invitations that make it clear you have been invited to act, speak, or pray.
Do you find yourself breaking down doors more than watching for the ones that are already opening to you?
Thursday: Watching for open doors
Week 22: Belief Day 5
week 22: Belief Day 6
Week 22: Belief Day 6
Read the poem “Locked Doors” by Anne Sexton, from her collection The Awful Rowing Toward God, then share it with a church planting peer.
Friday: Locked doors
Week 22: Belief Day 7
Saturday: Reshaping belief
As the leader of a faith community, you’re in a position to hear people state plenty of unorthodox doctrine or beliefs. For example, perhaps you hear someone lightly state that they don’t believe in sin, or evil.
Spend time in prayer today considering the best way to gently help someone shift into a fresh perspective. What might you say, or do? What answers does God suggest to you?
week 22: Belief Day 7
Week 23: Hospitality
Week 23: hospitality
CREDIT: Abigail Keenan
What happens when one person genuinely welcomes another? Why is this a particular superpower of Jesus people? And are there dangers here?
“Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” Romans 12:13, The Message (MSG)
Don’t you find it interesting that hospitality has a creative (even playful!) element, according to Romans 12:13 (MSG)?
Faith communities, by their nature, come in so many shapes, sizes, and flavors; they are like a profusion of wildflowers, or a banquet put together by an entire village.
Many are the ways to welcome in the stranger.
It can be overwhelming, too.
In fact, it would be easy to give yourself entirely away in the work of Christian hospitality by opening your heart, your hands, the doors of the places where you live and work and minister.
Somewhere in there is a balance, a way of making yourself open without thinking that you -- rather than Christ -- are the savior of the world.
What might be helpful, as you consider the powerful and generative role of hospitality in the Christian life, is to consider the parables of the salt (Matthew 5:13), light (Matthew 5:14), and leaven (Matthew 13:33).
May you be salt, but not the whole meal.
May you be light, but not the entire city.
May you be leaven, but not the full loaf.
Week 23: hospitality Day 1
Sunday: St. Brigid of Kildare
week 23: Hospitality Day 1
St. Brigid (c. 451 – 525) was known as a woman of deep hospitality, which was frequently connected with healing. The story of St. Brigid’s cross tells the story of her gentle and creative spirit.
Find materials to make a St. Brigid’s cross today, and allow this time to be your prayer and offering to God.
SOURCE: Youtube.com / St Brigid's Cross Tutorial
Week 23: hospitality Day 2
Monday: Engage and Attend
week 23: Hospitality Day 2
Deep hospitality involves more than a simple “hello” to the stranger. One simple way to engage with the people around you (those you know as well as those you don't) is to ask good questions -- the kind that goes beyond one-word answers. For example:
“What kind of day are you having?”
“How can I help you right now?”
“Tell me more about that…”
Then listen. Attend. Be present, as Jesus was, to the other person.
Week 23: hospitality Day 3
Tuesday: Visio Divina: A Place at the Table
week 23: Hospitality Day 3
Allow Andrei Rublev’s famous 15th century painting of the Trinity to anchor your time with God today.
CREDIT: Andrei Rublev, Public Domain
Week 23: hospitality Day 4
Wednesday: Welcome and Wanted
week 23: Hospitality Day 4
Hospitality is not just about welcoming someone in, but also about making them feel wanted. Head to a coffee shop this week and invite someone from your new faith community to join you. Bend all your efforts to making them feel not only welcome, but wanted.
Think in advance about what it will take to do this, and why it feels different...
Week 23: hospitality Day 5
Thursday: Lectio Divina: Flour and Oil
week 23: Hospitality Day 5
For your prayer time today, read this scripture slowly and mindfully. What is God’s message for you?
“So he arose and went to Zarephath. Now when he came to the town gate, to his surprise, a widow was there gathering sticks. So he called her and said, “Please bring a little water in a jar that I may drink.” As she was going to fetch it, he called her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
So she said, “As Adonai your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in the jar, and a little oil in the jug. Now look, I am gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go in and prepare it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
Elijah said to her, “Fear not! Go and do as you said, but first make me a little cake from what you have there. Bring it out to me and afterwards, make some for you and for your son. 14 For thus says Adonai God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be exhausted nor shall the jug of oil be empty until the day Adonai sends rain on the land.’”
So she went and did according to the word of Elijah—and she and he, and her household ate for many days.”
1 Kings 17:10-15, Tree of Life Version (TLV)
Week 23: hospitality Day 6
Friday: The Freedom of Hospitality
week 23: Hospitality Day 6
“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life
Take time with this quote today. Read slowly, then write it in your journal. Circle or mark the words that seem important to you. What is the message of God to you in these words today?
Week 23: hospitality Day 7
Saturday: A Celtic Rune of Hospitality
week 23: Hospitality Day 7
May this traditional Gaelic verse be the anchor for your day today.
I saw a stranger yestreen;
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place,
and in the name of the Triune
he blessed myself and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones, and the lark said in her song
often, often, often,
goes the Christ in the stranger's guise,
often, often, often,
goes the Christ in the stranger's guise.
SOURCE: Youtube.com / The Rune of Hospitality
Week 24: Traveling Companions
Week 24: Traveling companions
CREDIT: Jorge Flores
In a culture of instability and constant change it is a gift to have companions for the journey; people to "do life" with.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” Psalm 84:5, English Standard Version (ESV)
A “sojourner” is someone who is here, but only for a while. They are on the journey, on the road, moving out.
How well does that describe your spiritual journey? And how many Jesus people do you know who feel they’ve already “arrived” and aren’t particularly motivated or interested in more change or growth?
Another thing that causes frustration around the idea of “sojourn” is the United Methodist tradition of itinerancy. As a spiritual leader, you are supposed to be here a while, then move on.
In a culture dizzy with constant change, it’s not unusual for spiritual leaders and faith communities to feel exhausted or angry about all this spiritual and literal traveling, and it’s not hard to understand why.
And yet, traveling is a part of our deep heritage, and truthfully, it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid it. How will your ministry model healthy ways of undertaking the great journey of life? And how will your traveling companions make your journey better… or harder?
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 1
Sunday: Pilgrimage Partners
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 1
Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? If so, who did you go with, and how did those traveling companions change the journey for you? What would have been different if you had traveled completely alone?
In your journal, make a list of the people who are traveling with you now. They write a list of those who count you as one of their friends on their own journey. Do you see balance, or a need for change?
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 2
Monday: Traveling Companion Visio Divina
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 2
The following modern painting of famous biblical traveling companions Ruth and Naomi is by Sandy Freckleton Gagon, and is titled "Whither Thou Goest". Use it for your meditation. What feelings or messages arise for you as you center yourself in prayer?
"Wither Thou Goest"
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 3
Tuesday: “Salvation Life” Companions
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 3
Today let this scripture guide your prayers for having a spiritual companion -- both heavenly and earthly -- to whom you can look for solid guidance.
“Don’t put your life in the hands of experts
who know nothing of life, of salvation life.
Mere humans don’t have what it takes;
when they die, their projects die with them.
Instead, get help from the God of Jacob,
put your hope in God and know real blessing!”
Psalm 146:3- 6, The Message (MSG)
Take time today to call or text your earthly “salvation life” companion and thank them for their presence and help in your journey.
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 4
Wednesday: Blessings On the Journey
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 4
A quick image search on Google for the word “bless” turns up primarily images from an online video game. A similar search in an photo bank turns up mostly images of the American flag.
Your ministry is happening in a time when very few people have a clear conception of what it means to be “blessed” on their journeys, or even what it means to “be a blessing” to others.
What can you do today to teach your community of faith about blessings?
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 5
Thursday: Clear Thinking and Common Sense
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 5
Usually it’s people you think of as traveling companions. But in this passage, it’s clear thinking and common sense.
“Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.”
Proverbs 3:21-26, The Message (MSG)
Write in your journal about how and where these two “companions” have been with (or not with) you this week.
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 6
Friday: Road Songs
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 6
Musical artists have written thousands of songs about being on the road. How well has this prominent life theme been reflected in hymnody or other types of Christian music?
What song is your “road song” for this part of your journey? Take time today to ask one of your traveling companions what theirs is, and why...
Week 24: Traveling companions Day 7
Saturday: Naming God’s Guiding Presence
week 24: Traveling Companions Day 7
Let this scripture inspire you to call someone in your faith community today and find a way to bless them like this. What things will you look for before you feel justified in sharing a blessing of this nature?
“Then they said to him, ‘Inquire of God that we may know whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed.’ The priest replied, ‘Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.’” Judges 18:5-6, New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Week 25: Openness
CREDIT: James Sutton
In 2001 the United Methodists adopted the “Open hearts, open minds, open doors” tagline. How will your ministry be perceived by those outside the church with regard to openness?
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20, New Living Translation (NLT)
The people called Methodist certainly aren’t the only ones to struggle with openness. In truth, the struggle could be traced to the advent of Jesus, who might have been the poster child for openness, if they’d had such a thing in his day.
Jews and Jesus-followers, even sects within the very early church… If this idea were not so important we wouldn’t have records of such trials and conflicts over it.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, it’s clear there are frustrations between church leaders and the people in the church:
“Corinthians, we have been completely open to you. We’ve exposed the truth, holding nothing back while our hearts open wide to take you in. We have revealed our affection toward you—though it’s obvious you have a hard time showing your affection toward us. If I could offer some fatherly advice: open yourselves up as children; share your hearts with us as we have done for you.” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, The Voice (VOICE)
Part of the reason it’s hard for us is because the idea can be tough to put boundaries on. Who is truly to be included in our gatherings? Who is permitted to lead them? Should we even have boundaries on the notion of openness?
This will be something that you wrestle with over and over again, and your transparency as you wrestle will draw (or repel) others. How well will you live in the tension?
Week 25: openness Day 1
Sunday: “Our Beliefs, Their Hearts”
week 25: Openness Day 1
The people called Methodist entered the advertising age in earnest with this campaign. How closely does your ministry connect with this? What emotions come up when you watch? Are there specific, direct repercussions in your ministry?
"Our Beliefs. Their Words"
Week 25: openness Day 2
Monday: A Prayer for Hope
week 25: Openness Day 2
Allow this prayer by Franciscan spiritual author and speaker, Richard Rohr, to be your anchor point for today:
Franciscan Prayer for Hope,
Openness and Conversion
Week 25: openness Day 3
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Practical diversity: taking inclusion from theory to practice /
Tuesday: “Rosetta Moments”
week 25: Openness Day 3
In the first minute and twenty seconds of this TED Talk video, lawyer and professor Dawn Bennett-Alexander explains how she had her first “Rosetta moment.”
Can you remember the first time you did something entirely at odds with the things you believed? How did you grow from that moment?
In what ways does your ministry take the idea of inclusion and openness from theory to practice?
Week 25: openness Day 4
Wednesday: A Posture of Openness
week 25: Openness Day 4
If openness were a posture or physical position, what would it look like? Would it be sitting or standing? Lying down? What does an open face look like? Take a moment to experiment with physical postures. Spend time in prayer in this posture, then be intentional about adopting your posture of openness at different times today.
What changes about the way you feel or interact with others because of this?
Week 25: openness Day 5
Thursday: “I’m Not What I Was”
week 25: Openness Day 5
As you watch this video about Rev. Gilbert Caldwell, a voice for justice and human rights, think about the prayer, “Lord, I’m not what I ought to be, I’m not what I’m going to be, but Lord, I thank you I’m not what I was.”
Voice for Justice and Human Rights
In what specific ways are you not what you ought to be? How (and why) is that changing?
Week 25: openness Day 6
Friday: Being Right and Being Open
week 25: Openness Day 6
“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You're able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of others, without being crippled by your own judgment.” Ralph Marston
This is a tricky quote for a leader of God’s people. Open a discussion with someone in your faith community about why and how it’s difficult to be entirely open, and what it has to do with “being right.”
Week 25: openness Day 7
Saturday: Worship Inspiration
week 25: Openness Day 7
Browse through this worship liturgy from the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality. Are there hymns, readings, or prayers that you could use in your ministry this week?
Worship and Prayer Resources
Week 26: Done
CREDIT: Mike Wilson
What can we say, teach, think, or do about people who are saying they are "done" with the church?
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6, New International Verson (NIV)
Fed up. Tired of the drama, or abuses of power. Couldn’t find community. Felt rejected.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons people leave the church, and many of them are pretty good reasons. Of course, there are always folks looking for any excuse to remain outside a faith community (or to keep “shopping” for a better “product”), but sometimes people are genuinely looking for an authentic Jesus, and are disappointed to not find him in the faith communities where they’ve been.
Do you ever think the church has disappointed more people than it’s drawn in, loved, and healed?
Perhaps it’s the perfect time for you to be called into leadership.
Week 26: Done day 1
Sunday: Mapping the “Done” Relationships
week 26: Done day 1
Meet with a faith community member (or several) and let everyone make a list of all the people they know who have left the church. Share thoughts and stories about the “why” of this phenomenon, and talk about ways you might be church for some of these people.
Week 26: Done day 2
Monday: Saint of the Abandoned
week 26: Done day 2
Let the story of Saint Jerome Emiliani be your inspiration for the day. Read his story here:
Saint Jerome Emiliani
Are you able to see those who have left the church in the same light? Why or why not?
Week 26: Done day 3
Tuesday: Doors, Tables, Spaces
week 26: Done day 3
What constitutes someone being connected to a faith community? If they come to church? What if they only come to a book study, or a coffee gathering? What kinds of doors, tables, and spaces could you create that would be church for people who otherwise would not be connected?
Week 26: Done day 4
Wednesday: Upcycled and Repurposed
week 26: Done day 4
Of the 11 artists featured in the following article, which inspires you most?
11 Artists Doing Amazing Things
with Recycled Materials
Why is taking something that has been tossed out, used for ill, or despised and making it into art such a powerful and revolutionary act?
Who are the people being upcycled and repurposed in your ministry?
Week 26: Done day 5
Thursday: “Can There Be Good Without God?”
week 26: Done day 5
Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein seems to have his finger on the pulse of some of the things that are pushing people to consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Plan to share this video with members of your faith community.
Greg Epstein: Can there be good without God?
What emotions arise as you listen? Is there a message in here for you?
For more related conversations, see this video on PBS
None of the Above: Religious Implications
Week 26: Done day 6
Friday: Lectio Divina
week 26: Done day 6
Let your spiritual practice today rest in Psalm 121, with a particular attention to the last verse...
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.”
Psalm 121, New King James Version (NKJV)
Week 26: Done day 7
SOURCE: Youtube.com / A "Godless" Generation - Jon Jorgenson / Spoken Word
Saturday: “We Might Be In The Wrong…”
week 26: Done day 7
After watching the following spoken word video, open a conversation with someone outside your faith community about Jon Jorgensen’s thought that “We [the church] might be in the wrong…”
Week 27: Foolishness
Week 27: foolishness
CREDIT: Christian Gertenback
Lighten up! It’s okay to be a little bit nuts. You’re a Jesus follower. You should be used to this by now...
“The message about the cross doesn’t make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God’s power at work.” 1 Corinthians 1:18, Contemporary English Version (CEV)
You’ve read, studied, and thought seriously enough as you prepared to enter the leadership of the church. And in the same way that thinking is not enough to form you into the image of God, trying is not enough, either. Here’s a tongue-twister for you: Spiritual disciplines are what you do to enable you to do what you haven’t been able to do yet.
Here’s an even better way of saying it: Spiritual disciplines are what you do to enable you to become the person God dreams of you being.
What does “foolishness” have to do with spiritual formation (or this Tables Project)?
Foolishness is what the Gospel looks like to people outside of the life to which God calls all creation. So to practice foolishness is a part of practicing looking silly, or sometimes even incomprehensible to others, because of the Way of Jesus.
For example, in the grand and ridiculous tradition of the prophets of the Hebrew scriptures, Jeremiah paraded naked (for 3 years!) through the streets of Jerusalem to push home his point (Isaiah 20). Seemed crazy, but it made his prophetic point in the service of God’s message. And there are thousands more examples, throughout biblical history and the tradition of the church.
Welcome to the circus. It can feel a little bit insane, this profoundly holy Way.
Week 27: foolishness day 1
Sunday: The Why of Holy Foolishness
week 27: foolishness Day 1
A jester in a king or queen’s court was often laughed at, mocked, or derided. But the very important and often dangerous role of a jester was to remind the rulers and all the court of the limits of power and ambition.
What is the cause or “why” of holy foolishness? In what ways are your heroes and sheroes of the faith “holy fools”?
Week 27: foolishness day 2
Monday: Feeling Jesus-Foolish
week 27: foolishness Day 2
Foolishness is not typically thought of as one of the main spiritual disciplines. But maybe it should be. Jesus’ teaching and life challenged holy laws and offended traditional wisdom.
Share a story with someone in your life about a time when you looked or felt foolish, even though you knew you were doing the thing Jesus was calling you to do.
And here’s a question for your private reflection: How is that story different from a time when you felt foolish and it had nothing to do with living God’s call?
Week 27: foolishness day 3
Tuesday: Community of Fools
week 27: foolishness Day 3
Consider a few of the ways holy foolishness is embodied in the life of the community of Jesus people:
Giving up the security of possessions, because true security rests in God
Reminding each other than the communion table is more powerful than the shopping mall
Believing against all odds that racial, economic, and political breaches can be healed
Living as if there is a Love that is deeper than death
What other things can you add to the list?
Week 27: foolishness day 4
Wednesday: A Forest of Junipers
week 27: foolishness Day 4
Take time to read this story of Brother Juniper, a “fool for Christ” and friend of St. Francis, on the Facebook page of Shane Claiborne:
You can also read this story in the book The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi:
The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
Share this story with some friends from your new faith community.
Week 27: foolishness day 5
week 27: foolishness Day 5
“My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.
What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important. 29 God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, Contemporary English Version (CEV)
There’s a wonderful infographic and related video on praying the scripture.
Do the Lectio 3 - Step
Week 27: foolishness day 6
Friday: The Foolishness of God
week 27: foolishness Day 6
Read this poem for your reflection time today…
Poem: “The Foolishness of God” by Luci Shaw
Source: A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation
Week 27: foolishness day 7
Saturday: From the Abundance of the Heart
week 27: foolishness Day 7
“The name of Jesus is honey in the mouth, music to the ear, a cry of gladness in the heart.” – St. Bernard
“...for of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45, King James Version (KJV)
Take a few minutes to soak in these words. Then write four sentences in your journal with the following two guidelines: The first sentence should start with the word “God.” The second should start with the word “I.”
Week 28: Restoration
CREDIT: Clark Young
Returned to original condition and improved beyond measure; God goes above and beyond to bring all creation into perfect love...
“What I absolutely want is to suggest that before it's anything else, redemption is God mending the bicycle of our souls; God bringing out the puncture repair kit, re-inflating the tires, taking off the rust, making us roadworthy once more. Not so that we can take flight into ecstasy, but so that we can do the next needful mile of our lives.” Francis Spufford
Throughout the lives of the people called by God, our Maker has rained down blessing and made up for the deep losses sustained by the called and chosen community, giving us more than we’ve ever had before.
God’s restoration is not based on merit but on grace, and reflects an abundance that is hard to make sense of, in the world’s terms.
There are many words to describe this process and gift among the people of God’s choosing:
Reconciliation, redemption, restoration.
Being brought back together, being saved, being made new.
Each of these acts of God are subtly different, but they are all connected. These words -- these acts of love -- are about healing, wholeness, and the ways that God refuses to let go of us, no matter how wayward we’ve been.
This week, you’re invited to live out God’s restoration: in yourself, in others, and in the world around you.
Week 28: Restoration day 1
Sunday: Means of Measure
week 28: restoration Day 1
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38, New American Standard Bible (NASB)
You can pour a flour into a measuring cup until you have a certain amount, say one cup. But if you press that flour down, then shake and tap it down a bit more, then keep pouring in flour until it spills over the edge… That’s the kind of life and love measure God calls us to.
Find a way this week to give something (service, finances, listening, presence, engagement, praise) at a higher rate of measure than is expected.
Week 28: Restoration day 2
16th century tea bowl, with gold lacquer kintsugi repair work, 16th century
Exhibit in the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, Germany (Photo: Public Domain)
Monday: Kintsugi: The Art of Restorative Mending
week 28: restoration Day 2
Japanese people tell the story of a powerful shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, who sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the late 15th century. Unimpressed with the aesthetics of the repair work, he ordered his Japanese craftsmen to find a way to make the tea bowl beautiful again, and so the art of kintsugi, or mending broken pottery with resin, then sealing and highlighting the cracks with pure, shining gold, was born.
Share this image with some new faith community friends, and lead them in a time of prayer.
Week 28: Restoration day 3
Tuesday: Spiritual Gold for Mending
week 28: restoration Day 3
God has given you many gifts for healing. Take a look through your own inner treasure house, or lead your faith community through their resources to both name the gifts, and ask God how they might be used right now.
1. Deep listening
2. Physical presence
3. Emotional support
4. Naming what is strong and beautiful
5. Helping someone else
6. Releasing my grip on the things outside my control
7. Caring gently and wholly for myself and others
8. Living vibrantly
9. Loving, again and again
10. Getting help from ____________
11. Learning more about __________
12. Other ______________________
Week 28: Restoration day 4
Wednesday: Forgiveness and Restoration
week 28: restoration Day 4
“Restorative justice is not a replacement of retributive justice, but a complement. It seeks the rehabilitation of the wrongdoer and the repair of the victim's injury.” Lewis B. Smedes
Where have acts of forgiveness and restoration happened within your life? How does knowing the process for God’s healing in yourself help you to offer support and encouragement to others with this need?
Week 28: Restoration day 5
SOURCE: Vimeo.com / Healing Waters
Thursday: Healing Waters
week 28: restoration Day 5
Watch this 6 minute video about how one man brought healing to others. Does the means of healing surprise you? Open a conversation in your faith community. How do you hope you’ll be remembered?
Week 28: Restoration day 6
Friday: Lost Causes
week 28: restoration Day 6
St. Jude (not Iscariot) was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, and is traditionally considered the patron saint of lost causes. You may have heard of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee…
Consider the idea of a “lost cause.” How does God see things we name “lost causes”? Why do you think St. Jude might not have ever come to your attention before now? How might his tradition be a gift in your own ministry?
Week 28: Restoration day 7
Saturday: Fix It
week 28: restoration Day 7
What would happen if you put out an “open call” on social media, offering to fix something broken? Are you brave enough to try? What resources will you call on? What kinds of things might happen as a result?
Week 29: Grounded
Week 29: restoration
What does it mean to be spiritually formed? What things tend to draw you toward or away from becoming the person God intends you to be?
“As Jesus continued on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, ‘Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.’” Matthew 9:9, Common English Bible (CEB)
Let’s start with something we can all agree on: Jesus is a Jew. Jewish teachers have the unique idea that we act our way into a right way of thinking, not the other way around.
This is one of the ways that the rabbis are different than, say, Aristotle. When Aristotle wanted to teach his students, he told them, “Sit down and let me talk to you about life.” When the rabbis want to teach their students, they say, “Follow me, and let me show you how to live.”
So, when Jesus calls Matthew to follow him, the call isn’t into an intellectual discourse about the efficacy of faith. It is into a new way of living. It is a call to be formed into new practices and grounded in new way of being. It is a call to be reformed away from the practices of Empire and mammon (which Matthew was well versed in as a tax collector) and into the practices of kingdom and communion.
Rabbi Jesus forms and grounds the life of his disciples in his practices his being because this is how he is saving us: by restoring us into the image of God by inviting us into God’s way of being.
By being grounded and formed in the life of Christ, by following him and doing what he does, we begin to look like the one we follow.
Week 29: restoration day 1
Sunday: Worship in Community
week 29: restoration day 1
“One Sabbath, as Jesus was going through the wheat fields, his disciples were picking the heads of wheat, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them.…”. Luke 6:1, Common English Bible (CEB)
Much of Jesus’ time with his disciples is spent walking and talking about what they experienced together.
After worship, go for a walk with a friend (new or old). What did they hear from God today in worship? What do they need prayers for? Share what you heard and prayed for, as well.
Week 29: restoration day 2
Monday: Start Dancing
week 29: restoration day 2
“As Jesus continued on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, ‘Follow me,’ and he got up and followed him.” Matthew 9:9, Common English Bible (CEB)
Watch this video: How To Start a Movement
Can others imitate your practices and become part of the life of Christ? What could you do to move like Jesus in the world and invite others to join in with you?
Tuesday: Eat Like Jesus (Taco Tuesday!)
week 29: restoration day 3
“Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Matthew 11:19, Common English Bible (CEB)
Much of Jesus’ life is shared around the table. So much so that he was charged with being “a glutton and a drunk.”
Go out (or stay in) and have tacos with a friend. As you eat, talk about who you might like to invite to join you next time.
Week 29: restoration day 4
Wednesday: Pray like Jesus
week 29: restoration day 4
“At about three Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?” Matthew 27:46, Common English Bible (CEB)
When Jesus was on the cross, he prayed the noon prayer for Jews (Psalm 22). This is because he prayed the offices, or the set prayers, of the Jews. This was one way that his practices shaped even his dying.
Use this website to pray the office today. What effect does praying these prayers have on you?
Week 29: restoration day 5
Thursday: Love Like Jesus
week 29: restoration day 5
“I was a prisoner...hungry...thirsty...a stranger...naked...sick…” Matthew 25, Common English Bible (CEB)
Research a local organization which is engaged in caring for those named in Matthew 25. Pray through how you might join one of their efforts. Make a plan to follow up with them and embody the love of Christ with them in the world.
Week 29: restoration day 6
Friday: Fast Like Jesus
week 29: restoration day 6
“After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving.” Matthew 4:2, Common English Bible (CEB)
So, it wasn’t all feasting. Before Jesus began his public ministry, he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.
Fast from at least one meal today. As the emptiness fills you, pray through what your life might be emptied of in order to make room for the life and way of Jesus. What practices are keeping you from practicing the faith of Jesus? Like Matthew, what will you need to leave behind in order to follow?
Week 29: restoration day 7
Saturday: Worship Like Jesus
week 29: restoration day 7
“Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues.” –Matthew 4:23, Common English Bible (CEB)
Jesus was no stranger to the synagogue or the Temple. Being a part of the Jewish practices of worship shaped the regular rhythms of his life.
Resolve to go to a local synagogue for worship sometime this week. What rhythms there do you see in your own community of worship? How do their practices shape their lives? What practices that you see in them do you wish for your life?
Week 30: Language
CREDIT: Giammarco Boscaro
Where is the line between theological conversation and a monologue (or sermon) filled with church jargon? How is hospitality offered or rescinded by the words we speak?
“What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.” Proverbs 18:21, Good News Translation (GNT)
Language forms culture, and our need for new ways of expressing emerging ideas stimulates the birth of new language. It wasn’t long ago that we’d never heard of online gaming (or MMORPGS), we weren’t LOLing at the latest meme, and we didn’t wonder if someone was throwing shade.
The church has been in conversation about changes in language for hundreds of years, because we are deeply formed by the ways we speak and the things we have words for. A specialized language is necessary to teach and express unique ways of understanding the world.
Yes, it creates an insider/outsider experience. Sometimes it allows for sloppy theology. Is that reason for eliminating special words known only to church members? Or is it reason for paying very special attention to the ways we welcome new people who aren’t familiar with our words?
The Tables Project was built around three main places where we form friendships and welcome others into the community of Jesus followers:
1. The Communion Table — Formal worship, both in church buildings and out
2. The Kitchen Table — Home, with other leaders
3. The Coffee Table — World, making friends
Perhaps your levels of church-centric language could be considered in the same way a French teacher might approach different groups of students: She would speak advanced French with the fluent students (Communion Table), slower and simpler French with the rising students (Kitchen Table), and very little French with brand new students (Coffee Table).
May your words always bring clarity and illuminate our leader Jesus.
Week 30: Language day 1
Sunday: Do You Speak Christianese?
week 30: Language day 1
Take a (lighthearted) listen to the following podcast:
'What a total God shot!'
Here’s a funny video with the same, but more:
Shoot Christians Say
On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (completely), how much “Christianese” do you speak or hear on a daily basis? Ask someone outside of your faith community the same question. What feelings or stories come up for them as you listen?
Week 30: Language day 2
Monday: Jesus as Word
week 30: Language day 2
The following passage is one of the most complex and challenging to understand in all the Bible. Spend some time with it today. Why is it important? What message comes to you today as you sit with the scripture?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1, New King James Version (NKJV)
Week 30: Language day 3
Tuesday: Fast from Words
week 30: Language day 3
Your job as a leader of a faith community means lots of talking, but it may be even more important what you don’t say. Prepare yourself and your family and/or friends in advance, then make an offering today of your silence. Don’t even write or read during your fast. No texting, either.
How is your daily routine changed as a result of your fast?
Week 30: Language day 4
Wednesday: A Different Kind of Salty?
week 30: Language day 4
Today we think of “salty” language as sprinkled with profanities. Sailors (on the salty sea) had “salty” language. Well that’s different from the following scripture:
“Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].” Colossians 4:6, Amplified Bible (AMP)
Ask a peer leader about your language. How “salty” -- in the biblical sense -- are your words on a day-to-day basis?
Week 30: Language day 5
Thursday: Fewer Words
week 30: Language day 5
Sometimes as a church leader you add words to everything because you think you have to. It’s like giving people their money’s worth, right? Today enjoy this list of 10 incredibly powerful but extremely short prayers. (Each one lists a time for how long it takes, and none are more than 4 seconds.)
St. Peter's List
What would happen if, when asked to pray for someone, you used one of these?
Week 30: Language day 6
Friday: Fire in the Church
week 30: Language day 6
“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:5-8, New Living Translation (NLT)
Today think about a time when something you (or someone else) said caused great harm to Christ’s church or people. Confess this story to a faith community leader. In what way can words also bring healing to this story?
Week 30: Language day 7
SOURCE: Youtube.com / Tim Hughes - May the Words of My Mounth
week 30: Language day 7
Close your week with the following:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14, King James Version (KJV)
The End....and The Beginning
Week 31: The end and the beginning
CREDIT: Artem Kovalev
The End.....and The Beginning
Thank you for being part of New Faith Communities 30 week learning experiment. If you have followed along you have had dozens of crucial conversations and journaled about those insights as you discern your path to starting something new to invite people into communion with Jesus Christ. We have discussed language, practices, and beliefs that mold new faith communities. We have had discussions related to strategy as well as reflected upon the spiritual struggle that every planter encounters.
Now we come to the end that is really a beginning. Our reflections were simply opportunities for you to engage new ideas. You have cultivated a new skills and thought deeply about the vocation of creating new spaces for new people. We want to challenge you to use these tools to get out there and start something new to grow God’s Kingdom.