The Village 2013: Summer Letter
Summer Sermon Series: Why Leaders Teach
About seventeen years ago, someone gave me repeated opportunities to speak in a church context. Those opportunities both helped me to develop my understanding of Scripture and how to communicate it and also gave me confidence that I had something good to offer. With that in mind, I wanted to give our leaders the same opportunity if they wished to have it. So last summer and this summer you have had the chance to hear them speak and learn to communicate God’s word to His people. The other reason I wanted these particular people to speak is that I want you to know that your leaders are knowledgeable men and women who love Jesus and long for you to know and love Him too. What I would ask from you as a community would be to give them encouraging feedback, both telling them what they have done well and what they might work on. Please be sure to offer lots of affirmation before you give any constructive criticism.
Rod’s Summer Sabbatical: A Lenten Meditation
A few months ago, as Rod and I were talking about life, I suggested that he take a two month sabbatical this year in the same vein as the one I took last year. Rod and I started the Village twelve years ago and have been working together for fourteen years. During that time, I have watched Rod work tirelessly for our community: raising money, meeting with people, teaching, caring for Sue and I, and praying for the community. During Rod’s sabbatical in July and August, he plans to take time to relax with Kathy, organize his carport, and work on writing a daily Lenten meditation for next Easter season at the Village. Since Rod is taking this time off, you will be unable to get ahold of him for the next two months. Please pray for he and Kathy, that this would be a time where they grow closer together and to God, that God would give Rod new vision for the Village and for church planting in Tucson, and that God would guide Rod in his writing.
Pilgrim Group Update
Last summer, Sue and I wrote a Bible study on Isaiah 61 for the year’s Pilgrim Groups. One of the elements in the Bible study was for each person to write Isaiah 61 in their own words. Our hope as these Pilgrim Groups wrap up this summer is to collect all the paraphrases that people have written so that we can publish them for the community and have them read aloud during Vespers services this year.
Writing the Pilgrim Group Bible study was an eye-opening experience for Susan and I. It was much more difficult than we had anticipated. It was, however, also rewarding, inspiring, and educational. For our Fall groups, we decided to put together a study that follows the preaching schedule through the book of Genesis. This time around, our leaders will write individual chapters of the study.
If you aren’t currently in a Pilgrim Group, you will have opportunity to sign up for one in August. If you are already in a Pilgrim Group, your leader will let you know what the options are as new groups and leaders are being added – some groups will end and redistribute while others will continue.
Monastic Communities: Your Personal Ministry Team
Two years ago at a Drumming Circle (our occasional community-wide discipleship meeting), we began the experiment known as “Monastic Communities.” The experiment has been bumpy, yes, as leaders learned to lead and as people who didn’t know each other all that well were pushed together in various semblances of community interaction. However, God has used these groups to accomplish some cool things at the Village. The four Monastic Communities chose the external Christ-centered ministries that the Village would support financially; these ministries were organizations that either have had an impact on, or pursue goals that are close to the hearts of, several people in these groups. Monastic Communities have also served as a good place for new Villagers to meet people and start integrating into the community. The recent field day was the result of one Monastic Community’s desire to support the Village in playing together, integrating kids, and reaching out to friends.
Now that the Monastic Experiment has solidified, we are ready to move the groups to the next stage. We would like these groups to become places to practice both inward and outward mission. If you have an idea for serving the Village or the surrounding community, your Monastic Community is the place to bring this idea for discussion and further development. My hope is that over the next year, each Monastic Community will develop a distinct vision for service.
If you haven’t noticed lately, there is a considerable number of children at the Village. In fact, we have about forty members under the age of sixteen. Many of these children are between the ages of four and nine. This makes our kidVespers class size both large and developmentally diverse. Some of the kids on the older end of this range have gone through the current, year-long curriculum two or three times and are expressing boredom with the established arrangement. In order to disciple these kids more effectively, we have decided that starting September 29, we will divide the kidVespers class into a younger, pre-reading group and an older, text-based group. The older group will borrow some curriculum from what Emily McConnell has developed for the current midKid (9-14 year old) group, and will utilize other age-appropriate content.
In order to facilitate these changes, the leadership team is considering inexpensive remodeling plans for the north wing of the building. We may need your help with demolition, painting, and some minor carpentry sometime soon!
Over the past few months, I have been in discussion with Steve Yeakley and Mark Crawford about what it might look like to come on volunteer staff at the Village. Mark has a longing to someday be a pastor and wants an opportunity to be trained and to offer his musical gifts in a more focused manner. He will work with Susan in developing music at the Village and also work with Eric in different pastoral tasks such as preaching, discipleship, leadership meetings, etc. Steve’s intention in becoming a volunteer staff member is to help me with some administrative tasks, further his spiritual development, and help maximize a variety of things that the Village already offers through his expertise in web design, video production, and the visual arts.
The Vow of Stability
Recently, Rod and I stumbled upon a Benedictine Vow of Stability which resonated in both of our hearts and to us, defines the very essence of the Village. I thought I would share it with you:
We vow to remain all our life with our local community. We live together, pray together, work together, relax together. We give up the temptation to move from place to place in search of an ideal situation. Ultimately there is no escape from oneself, and the idea that things would be better someplace else is usually an illusion. And when interpersonal conflicts arise, we have a great incentive to work things out and restore peace. This means learning the practices of love: acknowledging one’s own offensive behavior, giving up one’s preferences, forgiving.