Yes, I’m back! I’ve actually, and strangely, missed posting; so I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I thought I’d throw out some reflections from my most recent 3 State, 8 day trip. Throughout this trip I had the privilege of speaking to the ‘whole’ of what encompasses a majority of the Christian community:
Spoke to 2,000 pastors about what it means to productively build bridges with gays and lesbians in their local communities (National Pastors Convention)
Spoke to a couple hundred college students about making a significant impact on their college campuses by going places they don’t fit in, or belong (Jubilee Conference)
A few major things stuck out to me throughout the past 8 days….
Lawndale is Legitimate
It was one of the major honors of my life to have a chance to speak at both services at Lawndale Community Church. The white, Wayne ‘Coach’ Gordon, founded LCC a few decades ago in the absolute middle of the worst neighborhood in Chicago. 30 years later the Lord has used him to totally change the culture of what it is to live in, and work in Lawndale. Coach founded the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) with Dr. John Perkins, and they have taken their model of the 3Rs: Relocation, Reconciliation and Redistribution, across the world [yes, it’s the same model I have used with The Marin Foundation since our inception]. In working with the Federal Government, Coach has been able to receive millions of dollars in grants in which 100% of that goes directly into the Lawndale community, culminating in one of their most recent projects—a brand new state of the art health center which includes a full hospital (English and Spanish), a brand new workout facility, gyms, pools, etc.—the nicest this world has to offer, all placed in the middle of a neighborhood nobody believed in. The moment I stepped into their sanctuary (no, LCC is not a mega-church, nor does it have any new buildings), the Spirit of the Lord was so clearly present. I didn’t expect to be swept away with such emotion, but as I walked in I realized that each person who enters those doors want to be there, want to love the Lord, want to worship, and have each made a cognizant choice to do so—because everything in their neighborhood goes against those choices. What a powerful pace, LCC and its congregation. And I was just humbled to participate in their history in some small way.
National Pastors Convention (NPC) is Legitimate
Just go to the link of NPC above, and check out the caliber of folks who were apart of this extraordinary event. Everywhere you turned was a “famous” Christian pastor or author just chillin’ in the San Diego sun, open to whatever conversations they might happen upon. Throughout the week I had some of the most mind-blowing, stimulating conversations of my life! On one of the days, I also felt kind of like cattle getting herded around from interview to interview by my publicist (which, by the way, I was totally ok with!!!); from Rev! Magazine to Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal to Outreach Magazine to the LA Times to the Ooze.com. And I got to finally meet and hang out with a man I’m totally obsessed with: AJ Jacobs, who wrote the New York Times bestsellers Year of Living Biblically and the Know It All. If I could just follow him around my whole life, I’d be a happy guy. What an experience! As for my times of speaking, check this out: NPC partnered with the Christian Global Network Television (CGNTV), and CGNTV chose to broadcast (translated into various languages) my Answering the Tough Questions on Sexual Identity workshop on their station—reaching as far as South Korea! Wow…I don’t have much else to say about that! And then during the introduction to my time speaking at the General Session on Thursday evening, Andy Crouch, who is the Senior Editor at Christianity Today International and author of Publisher’s Weekly 2008 Best Religion Books: Culture Making, said in front of 2,000 pastors:
“I just finished reading Love is an Orientation last night, and I have to tell all of you that this book is explosive! And I don’t know where or how the dust will settle … but that is the exciting, yet very scary part. I have never read anything like it before.”
How about that for an introduction—and I just met the man about fifteen minutes before he said that!? I never expected anything like that. In some not-so-small-way, it’s just another reminder of the importance and uniqueness of what the Lord has asked us to faithfully do as a distinct follower of Him; completely backwards to what the Christian community has always done.
Jubilee is Legitimate
The last time I was in Pittsburgh the crowd wasn’t really too excited about my message. But there’s no better way to change that then to get a bunch of hungry and eager college kids riled up about a bridge building message between them and the GLBT community! It was such an exhilarating (and ridiculously refreshing) time to see the undying and raw passion that so many college kids have, yearning to know how to productively build bridges with their gay and lesbian classmates and campus groups. I just wish you all could have been there experiencing the excitement, yells and Spirit-lead passion these kids had—interactively soaking up each of my words with the anticipation of getting back on campus to counterculturally immerse themselves where they all know Christ would have been. No more walls; no more barriers; no more campus directors persuading them not to experience a life different from theirs! We’re moving this thing grass-roots style, and I can’t wait to see how the Lord will continue to work.
All though I was on the road for 8 consecutive days, having 14-16 hour days of non-stop talking, meeting and collaborating (or as Shane Claiborne says: Plotting Goodness), I have returned better off then when I left! Be encouraged as well—because when I go to all of these places I’m going for all of us, representing each and every bridge builder out there who longs to see a new day of reconciliation in this culture war.