I’ve taken an unintentional sabbatical from the blog writing, and I apologize for that. My new book, Five Practices of Fruitful Living, has just been released and is now available from Cokesbury and Amazon, and in anticipation of this release we’ve been working to redesign and revamp the FivePractices.org website. The current website focuses entirely on the Five Practice of Fruitful Congregations, and so the definitions, banners, divisions and graphics all reflect that book. We’re keeping the FivePractices.org name and site, but expanding it to include an emphasis on both the congregational practices and the personal practices of discipleship. For some reason, my anticipation and waiting for the change on the website has caused me to delay writing new blogs until the new website is up and going. My lack of blogging results more from an internal resistance or writer’s block issue than from a strategy related to the website. We hope the new website is up in the next couple weeks, and then I expect the blogs will start flowing again. Thank you for your patience.
I have a stack of blog topics that keeps growing larger. When I’m struck by an idea or have an experience that I think may provide material for a blog, I write a sentence or two about it and file it away. Some of these seeds of ideas mature into blogs and others linger for awhile and then die. For some ideas, my passion and interest grows, and for others my energy wanes. With this recent leave from blogging, I haven’t even looked at the idea file for weeks. When I opened it today, I found myself trying to reconstruct what I was thinking about when I wrote some of these ideas down. I’m amazed at the eclectic nature of the undeveloped snippets of ideas.
At the risk of robbing readers of the suspense and anticipation I know everyone feels about upcoming blogs (right!), I have decided to list some of the raw and unedited ideas from my idea file. Ready? Here goes: A blog that describes the new book on Fruitful Living and its high view of lay ministry; reflections about the huge UMW Assembly in St. Louis; thoughts about the book Fierce Conversations and how many single conversations have entirely reshaped my life; how the fear of failure and the fear of regret shape the spiritual life; praying in airport chapels; leading congregations through changes in worship styles; the tribulations and joys of the “delete” and “restore” functions on the computer; how losing the use of a single letter on the computer keyboard cripples communication; Sarah Miles’ “being fed, feeding others” as the summary of the gospels; using check lists in ministry; Tom Landry’s quote, “One hundred percent of your life is ahead of you.”; reflections on the sorrow of losing our 31-year-old niece so tragically last month; how notions of moral proximity shape our mission; the “lost potential” index; the redeeming quality of complete silence; lingering thoughts about a murder in the news that has affected me; confusing a deeply moving spiritual experience or converting experience with a call to ordained ministry; Wesley’s real intentions for conferencing; “I felt my legs were praying!”—the Abraham Joshua Herschel quote about marching in Selma; humor and Christian community; being spiritual without being religious and being religious without being spiritual; how people really find our churches; and Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of Luke 9—“Don’t load yourself up with equipment…You are the equipment.” Some of these you may see fleshed out during the weeks to come and others will likely never again see the light of day. Some of these almost write themselves and others require a great deal of soul work to fathom what needs to be said that helps us in our following of Christ.
How do you cultivate ideas? We all have our experiences of living, working, loving, and serving Christ. It’s a wonderful privilege and blessing when we also receive the gift of time to reflect upon our experiences. It’s in prayerful reflection that we mull over, rethink, delve deeper, reconsider, learn and hope and recommit. Some use quiet time, others use exercise. Some keep a journal and others lift their experiences before God in prayer. How do you sift through the ideas that strike you? How do you sort through the fears and aspirations that mark your daily life? What does your stack of unfiltered ideas look like that await your contemplation and how do you go about it?
More blogs are coming. A new website layout is not far off. Thank you for your patience. Stay tuned!
Yours in Christ,