No, I did not wash away in the torrential California rains. (The picture at left is a rainbow I found dancing along the Marin County hillside.) The blog has been quiet, because I’ve been way too busy! I’ve been on a circuitous trip of California. I left last Friday, drove an hour to I-5 just as they closed it because of snow. I had to drive back the hour I’d come and take 101 north through Santa Barbara to meet some old friends for lunch in Fresno. Later that afternoon I drove up to Elk Grove to have dinner and fellowship with two couples and a single brother who spilled out of the system a while back. We had a chance to talk together about de-toxing from religion and the joy of embracing relationship with the King and with his people without the complicating factors of guilt and institutionalism.
I spent the next two days with believers north of Sacramento who have been on an interesting journey with Jesus that has resulted in deconstructing their congregational structure. Over the last five years they have transitioned from being a traditional congregation to learning to live as God’s people in relational community. It has not been easy, nor did they see from the beginning where they would end up. In October they ended their Sunday morning gathering, in December their paid staff relinquished their salaries and in January they are selling their building. I’ve been with them a number of times through this process. On Saturday I facilitated some dialogue on “Thriving Outside the Box.” Needless to say there were lots of questions about rethinking the church and relational life without the safety of the box. One theme kept repeating itself over and over with those who had gone through this process: It had not been easy and though they missed some of the props that used to hold up their life together, they had so grown
On Monday I drove down to Fairfield to meet the District Superintendent there who was the person most influential in helping me start BridgeBuilders. From there I met with a delightful man in Marin County who has one of the most incredible salvation stories I’ve ever heard and is helping believers in that area have a positive impact on their public schools. He invited me to come back later and help with a similar effort in Oakland involving a couple of Oakland Raider football players who are deeply devoted to Christ. (Yes, I was shocked to hear that too!) It will be interesting to see how that develops. I ended the day in a home on the San Francisco Bay in Tiburon overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, Oakland and Richmond. I stayed with Chris and Cathy, two people I’d met in Alaska a few years ago and we talked the night away with breathtaking views of the Bay.
The next day the three of us when to Mac Expo in San Francisco! Many of you know I am a Mac freak and spending the day looking at new products and getting questions answered about programs I have trouble with was incredibly helpful even if it did peg my covet meter. I didn’t spend too much though, but learned a lot. I even had lunch next to a man who called himself an orthodox atheist. Needless to say we had a great conversation. From there I drove down to Gilroy to stay with some dear friends from my Visalia days.
On Wednesday, I drove down to King City to have lunch with a school principal there with whom I attended high school and who had been a pastor for a number of years near where I had made that same mistake. We had a lot to catch up on and I got a copy of an essay he wrote years ago entitled “Moldy Buns in the Pews.” I’m going to use it some day because it is brilliant, humorous and makes a profound point, but am not sure how yet. After lunch I drove back home which was no easy task. Southern California roads are a mess with the mudslides and washouts. Ten people were killed about 20 miles north of us where a mudslide swept through their neighborhood. It too me almost four hours longer to get home since I could not use Hwy 101 and had to go back into the Central Valley and use I-5. But only one lane was open on the southbound side due to a mudslide, so at one point I spent almost two hours traveling only five miles.
But I did get back home. Yesterday I had stitches removed from the surgery I had two weeks ago to remove basal cell carcinoma from the back of my head, tried to catch up on over 200 backlogged emails (so please be patient those of you waiting responses) and prepared for a meeting today to possibly revive our radio show idea from a year ago, but this time with an interesting twist. I hope to share more on that in that with you in the next few days.
What a crazy week, but one filled with so many incredible conversations and moments sharing the life of Jesus with people across the broadest spectrum—from orthodox atheist to radical out of-the box believers..