Two weeks ago, I shared words from Barth that say better than I could the joy and the terror I find in preaching. Here are words from Henri Nouwen that say, again better than me, what has become a core conviction about leading and loving in God’s community:
I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.
Actually, I should say that on my best days, I believe this. Other days (most days, probably), I run from these words. I’m fairly addicted to people thinking I have my trash together. I like to have the answers. I like to be right. I like to be the leader everyone wants to listen to. I want to have the good ideas. I want to work out my own problems. And that soul-draining, mask-wearing way will kill a person, let me tell you.
I’ve found a small company of friends who help me to remember the truth: that what I have to offer really has very little to do with me. They help me believe in the good news that my story is not the ultimate story. A few of these friends work with me in a little grass roots collective known as the Genesis Project. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned it here, but there you go – another little bit about my life. GP, as we insiders call it (and you’re welcome to be an insider too), has a good story, but ultimately it has grown out of friendships and a shared belief that we are a mess, that we need mercy and grace – and that Jesus meets us in community. Our official line, because every organization is supposed to have such a thing, is this: “the genesis project is a collection of friends with a heart for providing soul care for the leaders of developing churches.”
We are friends who, due to our own stories, are keenly aware of the soul-draining realities of vocational ministry – and particularly the version known as “church planting.” And we hope to spread our friendship around a bit (to spread the love, in other words).
So, I am eager to announce the Genesis Project’s spring gathering, The Table. This small communal experience is designed for those leading new churches who are intimately connected with their own brokenness and need for grace – and who desire for Jesus to speak into these places among a community of friends.
The applications are now available online, and we will receive them until January 15th. The Genesis Project is funding this gathering, and it will be offered as a gift. Space is extremely limited, but if all goes as we hope, we will host others in the future.