It's slightly embarrassing to say that the last two night sleep on camp bunk bed mattresses have been some of the best night's sleep I've had in a long time (I've got little kids, though, remember?). But it's not at all embarrassing to say that the past two days of conversation have been some of the best in a long time as well. The process of sharing deep and often quite personal stories, and learning how to help one another in drawing out and crafting those stories, has been really rewarding. I feel like I know the folks in this room much better than our 48 hours together would suggest. Its exciting to me to think about where these Methodist congregations take the material we've engaged these past two days.
Today's content is to get at how we go about facilitating this “Season of Practice” in our congregations, and community organizing practices lay at the heart of the “how” of this. But we spent a fair amount of time this morning debriefing what we had learned and exploring together why it is important. It's clear I'm not the only one for whom this process has been personally meaningful and others are also excited about the ways in which VoCARE practices might begin to transform their congregations and how they relate to the young people among them. And its also clear that there is more to these practices than simply a program for improving the number of pastors emerging from congregations. There is something in this process, in these stories and this way of being Church together, that could have deep and profound implications for all of our communities.
I'm slightly disappointed as I leave this gathering because I know that the timing is not right for my congregation to engage this process right now, and it also seems to me that a moment has passed for our cluster of Lutheran congregations in Spokane to engage in it together either. But I'm hopeful that there is some way, and some place that these Vocation Care practices can take root among Lutherans and among congregations I'm connected to. And since the training this fall I've already begun to engage in the story-telling practices, both inside and outside of my congregation. And I'm struck at the way in which this focus on call and a community that nurtures call is resonating with people outside of organized religion. When I've described this process, this curriculum, this project or just asked the sort of questions that lead to story telling with my non-church connected friends, they have gotten really excited. It seems like everyone is asking questions about call, and that the answers out there are just not cutting it. I've once again caught a vision for a transformed Church that takes vocation seriously, and becomes a community that deeply nurtures callings for all people—young and old, those inside and those outside—and releases them for the sake of the world. It's exciting to wonder about where this journey will take me next.
For now it's taking me back on the ferry and then back to my parents house to pick up my little ones who (hopefully) will sleep most of the 5 ½ hours back to Spokane. It's been a great journey with the people of FTE, with my Methodist brothers and sisters, and with the Spirit into the deep question of how do we nurture call within our congregations for the sake of the world. And something tells me this journey is only beginning.