At the beginning of this week, Nate and I led a workshop at the Celebration of Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary. The advertised title was Humble Walk: A Case Study. The real title Worship. It Ought Not Suck. Preachers come from all across the country for this annual three-day conference. They bring in some heavy hitters like Phyllis Tickle and Brian McLaren and Grace Imathiu and Tom Long. (I’m not sure how we got on the workshop list.)
When we arrived, our room was already set up for us. Thirty chairs neatly arranged and perfectly spaced. Naturally, we took everything down and stacked the chairs so that when people arrived, they got to participate in helping set up. Full-on Humble Walk experience.
We gave a brief context and history of the Humble Walk community. Then we led the liturgy-just like we do on Sundays. In fact, we brought the actual bulletins with highlighted parts and decorated front covers (beautiful work, friends). During offering, we passed around our clipboards. Instead of having places where you can offer to bring or serve bread, there were places where you could sign up to 1. Pray for Humble Walk. 2. Send people you know to come and check us out 3. Have a conversation about becoming a mission partner with us.
It all went fine. People were gracious and interested and excited. They participated and asked good questions. All throughout the 90 minutes and the one-on-one conversations, I began to see that we ought to have collected the names of all those preachers and their congregations. Because honestly, they have a way, way harder time figuring out how to be church than we do. We have had five years together–deciding from the ground up what we toss and what we keep. We have known from the beginning that we hold all of this loosely, that none of it belongs to us anyway, that it’s all gift. And many of these preachers are in places where those conversations are just getting started. If you have had 125 years together in the same building, it’s a little more challenging to think of church outside of those walls. And as you see the institution crumbling around you–it’s hard to imagine that the Spirit might be at work reforming us.
This Sunday, we will pray for the names that we do have–and ask God to be with them through the terrifying and thrilling season of dying and rising.