Monday, February 20, 2006

Labor Day In February

In a recent post, Parke mentions celebrating Labor Day in February as a time of talking about the work we do, and why it is important. Great idea! I think many folks use their blog to tell us about themselves, but also as an escape from the rigors of work. For many, we know who you are, but not what you do. Here's what I do:

I am a cultural missionary to West Texas, specifically Lubbock. Under that ministry calling, I do several things and have two careers. This calling as a cultural missionary is a calling to discover the pockets on non-Christ followers in our community and discover the relveant metaphors that will accurately communicate Christ's love for them. I feel that the church in general has lost the art of metaphoric communication that was a significant part of Christ's disciple-making style. Theological accuracey embodied in cultural relevance is what we are striving for. Christ was the master of building relationships that allowed Him to travel in circles that needed to hear His message. In the context of those relationships (i.e. the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, Nicodemus, Zaccheus, etc...), Christ shared the truth of the kingdom in a way that enlightened people to THE Truth, and brought them to faith. That's the passion that drives me! I want to be that man who loves on people like Christ did, communicating THE Truth with them in a way that connects them to Christ forever. In the "terms of the trade," we are committed to living missional, incarnational lives. God's desire is that the 200,000+ unreached and post-Christian people of Lubbock County hear the good news of Jesus Christ. The bigger picture is that God desires to change the world, and that starts here.

As a cultural missionary, my typical day consists of conversations with people. For instance, today, by 11:00 a.m. (CST) I have talked with a young lady who has been around the fringe of The Journey. She has become a great friend. I also spent an hour talking with a good friend and his Jewish best friend. We talked life and faith. Then, I got to talk with the girl behind the counter about the word "religion," and some of the philosophy behind Christian thought and doctrine. Later today, I'll be meeting with a young man who just got out of rehab and wants to get his life back together. Tonight I will be leading a philosophy discussion at a local coffee house just off the Texas Tech Campus. Then, at 11:00 tonight I will be playing an indoor soccer game, and getting to hang with some great guys (some of which don't know Jesus). Then, tomorrow, I'll go about my day seeing who God brings into my path, and do it all over again. I love on all of these people like Jesus did, and in the process I hope to get to share why. And that is pretty much what my day consists of.

In the context of this calling, God has opened two doors for me. My first career is as the Lead Pastor for an emerging church called The Journey. The Journey is a church plant that my wife and I have started from scratch, with nothing more than the afore mentioned calling, the help of a some great faith communities (Mosaic Arlington, FBC Littlefield, and the SBTC), and God's assurance of His care for us. We left full-time student ministry to pursue this calling. I have posted several posts about The Journey that you can read back in my August posts. The Journey serves as the faith community that we believe God will use to reach Lubbock County. I really hope you'll track back to those posts and check it out. My "work" schedule for The Journey consists of preparing for and leading the philosophy discussion group I mentioned above, leading a Thursday night worship gathering, a monthly meal, and hanging at The World Wide Headquarters of The Journey (Aroma's Coffee House on 82nd). I borrowed the nick name from my friends at iWitness ministries! The bottom line is to take the message of Christ to our culture, and for The Journey to be a place where Christ-followers join Him in that mission.

My other career is that of part-time Associate Pastor of Youth and Small Groups at The Heights Fellowship. Most church planters have to raise much of their own support and work another job while they plant, at least at first. This was a bit of a dilema for me, since I am not a great fund raiser, and I have no vocational skills outside equipping the saints. With a bachelor of arts in Christian counseling, and a Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Biblical languages, there aren't a lot of career choices outside vocational ministry. I could just see the manager at McDonald's, "Well, Mr. Bishop, we don't really need anything translated from Hebrew of Greek here. We don't have much use for exegetical preaching or exegesis. And, since you have no real experience flipping burgers, I'm afraid we have nothing for you..." When God called us to reach our culture and plant a church, He also drove home the need to raise funds that would allow me to do that. During a discovery retreat where I was praying through the details of my new calling, God spoke to me about this issue. I've mentioned that before, but the short story is that I have the skills, training, and background of 17 years of student ministry to be a blessing to a church that can't afford a full-time guy. So, I have plugged in with a long time friend, Mike Martindale, to help build their small group ministry structure and get their student ministry up and running. They have really been a blessing to me. For my Sundays and Wednesdays (and some Fridays/Saturdays), I am helping to build the Student Ministry for The Heights Fellowship. During the week, I manage to squeeze in enough time to tweak the Small Group Ministry, read up on Small Group Ministry, and care for our SGM Leaders.

If your heart beats with a similar vision or passion, I'd love to hear about it. I'd love even more to help you. If you live near us, come join us! If you live far from us, join us anyway! Thanks, Parke, for suggesting Labor Day in February!

1 comment:

Blogadelic said...

I know what you speak of when you mention not having much work experience outside of the church. I have a worthless b.a. in history, i could teach if i wanted to go back to school for another 2 years. And then the MDiv with BL gets you only eyebrow raises in the secular job market.
When I went through my "not a good fit" turmoil in Pueblo, I interviewed everywhere from Home Depot to The Buckle to Office Depot. The kid at office depot that inteveiwed me was young enough to have been in my youth ministry. That was humbling. And the college kid at the Buckle told me I was over qualified to sell clothes at the mall, but only after my 3rd interview?

Then God worked it out for me to deliver cookie dough and cheesecake to high school cheerleaders, little league teams, and boy scout troops. I kept waiting for somebody in one of those groups to need some greek parsed but it never came up.