Geri and I arrived in NZ with a full cup and began a 3-city tour, in different parts of the country, each separated by a plane flight. This was akin to getting on the bus “SPEED” – with fifteen-hour days (teaching an EH Leadership seminar from 9:00-4:30 and a 7:00-9:15 EH Marriage Seminar in each city.) We thought the travel days would be recovery days but they turned out to be a different kind of “work” – traveling by car and plane, encountering storms, 2 days of lost luggage, as well as the unpredictable factors that come with being in a new culture. By the end of the week, we were sadly exhausted. Too many people, too much work, and too little silence and downtime. Partnering with WillowCreek New Zealand was a joy. The issue revolved, primarily, around our decisions. We asked ourselves: “What does an “emotionally healthy,” global partnership, speaking tour look like? How. Read more.
I spent a good part of this week reflecting on more than twenty-five years of preaching as I spoke this morning at a Preaching Rocket conference here at New Life in NYC. Others, like Andy Stanley, have done an outstanding job describing the craft around preaching. My task was to consider the unique applications of emotional healthy spirituality to the preaching/teaching task. The following are the ten questions to which I return over in preparation my own sermons and work with our NLF Preaching Team: Am I contemplatively grounded in God Am I centered in myself? Am I allowing the text to intersect deeply with my family of origin? Am I preaching out of my vulnerability and weakness? Am I allowing the text to transform my spiritual journey? Am I surrendering to the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension process? Am I taking sufficient time to think through clear and pointed applications? Am I thinking. Read more.
When we are forced to acknowledge our very limited real control over what happens to us, a “thin” place opens up – one that is filled with spiritual possibilities and gifts. David Benner says it well: “Surrender is simply inner acceptance of what is. There is probably nothing more difficult for humans. But there is also nothing more freeing.” While many demands scream for our attention, I remain convinced the most important thing we do, especially as pastors and leaders, is to surrender our will to His. Towards this end I have been experimenting with a well-known practice known as Welcoming Prayer. It provides a framework for how to respond to something emotionally upsetting with a spirit of surrender. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the three simple movements or steps as follows: 1. Focus on the difficult emotion (e.g. anger, fear, depression, shame). Face it directly and feel it in your body. Don’t try to change. Read more.
As pastors and churches are beginning to explore integration of emotionally healthy spirituality into their lives and churches, I believe it is important to step back and reflect on the wider theological and historical foundations upon which we are building. The following is my list: 1. Prayed Theology 2. A Humble Spirit to Learn from the Whole Church 3. A Sense of Global Church History 4. Contemplative, Monastic Spirituality 5. Integrity in Our Leadership 6. Emotionally Healthy Practices 7. The Marriage Covenant 8. Sexuality 9. Calling, Life and Work 10. Preaching and Teaching 11. Bringing Christ to Culture (Contextualization) 12. Bridging Racial, Cultural, Economic and Gender Barriers Last week I showed our staff a four minute video on the revolution occurring in our culture with regards to social media and its implications for NLF (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVXKI506w-E&feature=player_embedded#t=92). While I am not sure of all the implications of social media for us today, I am convinced of. Read more.
These are my further reflections , and changes, on the theological underpinnings and foundations for what it means to integrate emotionally healthy spirituality into our lives and the people we serve. It is much more than simply doing the small group material, Daily Offices, or the church-wide initiative. That is simply a beginning. A larger, more expansive training along the lines of the twelve points listed below. Over the next few weeks, I will blog on each and their implications for us. 1. Theology– We must root our lives and churches in the living Jesus who is God Almighty as revealed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit. We are first and foremost about practices biblically rooted. We take seriously the model of the early church fathers (e.g. Ignatius of Antioch, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil, Gregory the Great, Augustine, Iraneus and others) who were leaders of local churches or bishops, theologians who studied Scripture. Read more.