church planting

The Latest News on The Table

Over the past week we’ve been teasing some information about the next step in our church planting journey. We’ll be sharing more of the details over the next few weeks, but here’s the latest…

We are currently inviting people to join us for series vision casting/training days. They will start on April 23, and then  occur on the first and third Sunday of each month through July 2.

We are looking specifically for a) people interested in being part of starting a Jesus Centered Church here in Clontarf, and b) people who would like begin Missional Communities elsewhere, but be part network of like-minded people.

So what other details do we know at this point?

While the time is still to be determined, it will likely be held in the late afternoon (4:00 pm to 6:00 pm perhaps).

The format? Since missional communities are central to our vision, these days will be structured in much the same way our missional communities are.

Sound Interesting? Let me know if you’re in the area and would be interested in grabbing a coffee to chat more. We’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, if you want to keep up on the latest info, please like The Table on Facebook.

Posted by bob in The Table, 0 comments
Learning, Unlearning and Relearning

Learning, Unlearning and Relearning

The view from our hotel during our “are we really doing this?” tour of Dublin in 2011.

When I first began thinking that a move to Ireland could be in our future, I sat down to write a list of why Elizabeth and I were unlikely people to move to Dublin and start churches.

I didn’t get to far into that exercise before I began to realise that my basic assumption was wrong. Not that we are anything special, but because we certain had backgrounds and experiences, it seemed that perhaps this did make some sense.

For example:

  • Although we have not been part of the Catholic church since before we were teens, Liz and I were both raised in the Catholic church and would have a similar religious background to many people in Ireland.
  • Liz actually has Irish citizenship. Without it, getting into this country long-term is nearly impossible.
  • Liz grew up in a large extended Irish family. Her parents and most people of that generation had grown up in Ireland and so she had a grasp on those dynamics.
  • Unlike most European countries, I actually speak the language.
  • We have spent the vast majority of our adult lives in cross-cultural ministry settings…

So you get the idea.  And while not everything with God has to make perfect sense from our point of view, it does seem that he often builds upon our experiences and gifts rather than sending us to do something for which we have zero background.

From a “who we are” perspective, this was helpful and encouraging.

At the same time, our last few of years in Ithaca were challenging and I had seriously considering leaving full-time ministry. And while there was a lot of good stuff that was accomplished while we were there, in moving here, there was a lot I wanted to see happen differently.

So between coming through a difficult three-year period, and wanting to do something different from what we’d done before, I  imagined that I would need to become a very different leader than I had been. At times I imagined I’d need to stop doing all of the things I was good at, and learn to do a number of things I had never been good at.

But over the past year, a couple of conversations made a huge impact.

I was talking to a spiritual director and mentioned that one of the things God had been working on in me on over the past few years was being less reactive. I shared how in the past something would go wrong and I’d jump into ‘control-freak’ mode and take charge.

He gave me an odd look and then questioned my use of the phrase ‘control freak’.

He sketched a picture of what Liz and I went through during our first two years in Ireland. Then pointed out that to be able to plan, strategize and make new connections in the midst of that was a good thing.

He said that taking such a tight grip on a situation that we wrestle control from God isn’t healthy, but, using gifts and talents he has given us, should be celebrated, and not be spoken of in a derogatory way.

A short time later, I was in a coaching meeting looking at the topic of discipleship and leadership. We each were asked where we were most comfortable leading. For me, that was easy. I am an L4 leader…I love to find people who are passionate about something at set them free to do it. (In case you want a bit more on what an L4 leader is, this post is well done.)

After that we talked about the “shadow side” of each style of leadership. For the L4 leader, while  it’s great that you are willing to release people to minister, there can be a tendency to not spend time with them. Our coach summarised this problem with the phrase, “Jesus said he’ll always be with you…so I don’t have to.”

That is something that I struggle with for numerous reasons. Among them; 1) I think if I’m contacting people I’m bothering them. 2) I like to be left alone when doing a task and not have someone looking over my shoulder, so I figure everyone is like that. 3) Or sometimes it’s just too much effort and I don’t feel like doing it.

There are other reasons too, but none of them are good…they are just excuses.

Being able to release people to do what they are gifted to do is a good thing. I can keep doing that, but in a healthier way.

There was a part of me that moved to Dublin thinking “I need to  learn brand new ways of leading.”  That was overwhelming. To think of spending all of your time working in areas where you feel weak, doing things don’t come naturally…that can be a bit exhausting.

But in these conversation, what I hit me was I didn’t need to reinvent myself, and act as though everything God had done in me in the past was somehow ‘bad’ or wasted. What I needed was to find ways to use the gifts and talents he’s already given me in healthy ways.

Reinventing yourself sounds more exciting…but doing the hard work of wrestling with those areas that God wants to strengthen are where real fruit is found.

Where is an area in your life where you could learn a healthier way of working?

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments
The Most Harmful Thing I Believed About Church Planting

The Most Harmful Thing I Believed About Church Planting

Not all growth is healthy.

Not all growth is healthy.

Before planting a church in Ithaca, NY I spent about a decade starting and leading campus ministries. So I came to church planting with a lot to learn. I read, listened to tapes and cds, went to conferences. I did everything I could to learn as much as possible about this new adventure I was on.

Like anything, some of what I learned was helpful, and some, not so much. There was one idea that was a mantra in church planting circles. I heard it at conferences. I heard it over and over from my coach. And I believed it. I taught it to other church planters. I preached at our church on Sunday mornings.

The phrase is simply, “Healthy things grow.” Sounds good, right?

I’ve actually been working on this post for a few months. But it wasn’t taking shape like I’d hoped. Then last week Wayne Cordeiro reposted a blog written by Larry Osborne entitled The Myth of Endless Growth.

So rather than me explain why I think this idea caused more harm than good, I hope you’ll read their post. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Osborne’s post ends asking if this myth has impacted how you lead or define success. And the reason I’d been working on this post is because it has.

Here’s my list of 3 ways that buying into this myth (lie?) impacted me:

1) It led me to focus on the wrong things.

When we started the church, I wanted to see a close community built where transformation happened, and people were  becoming disciples of Jesus. Those things are all difficult to quantify. And, well, transformation can take a while. Then there is recent research which shows, transformation is not  really happening in our churches anywhere near the degree to which we’d hope.

But the number of people who show up at your services. The number of small groups. The number of services. Those are all things you can point to and show that we are doing better this year than last. The problem is, growing those things takes a lot of energy and resources. They don’t ensure that you’ll see transformation or discipleship. And they don’t leave time or energy for the things that are important.

2) It led me to put unhealthy people in leadership

As our church grew, we constantly needed new leaders. New ministry leaders, new small group leaders, new children teachers, new staff. There are some who lead and work because they want to serve, and they care about people. There are others who do it for less healthy reasons.  They want to be recognised. They want positions of control. They want to be close to the pastor. The problem is, they often lack maturity, spiritual depth, character, compassion and people skills.

There were times when we put people in leadership because “they got things done.” There were obvious signs of a lack of emotional health, spiritual health, relational health. But we needed people and they got stuff done.

Except of course when they crashed. Then things were a mess. But we’d hold meeting after meeting, soothe things over, and eventually get back to work…until the next time.

The majority of people in leadership there were high quality people. They had character, depth, loved Jesus & loved people. It was a privilege to work with them. But having unhealthy people in leadership caused a lot of drama and stress for them that they shouldn’t have had to deal with.

[Reading Pete Scazzaro’s  stuff on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Leadership was so helpful in finally breaking this cycle.]

3) It killed contentment.

When we planted our church in 1999, I was not brimming with confidence. And if you told me that one day we would have 100 people regularly attend our church, I would have been ecstatic. However, once we were at 100, I focused on 150. When we hit 250, I was focused on 500.

And I guess it would be one thing to say I was focused on the next step. The bigger issue was that I never enjoyed where we were. It was never enough, because healthy things grow, and we need to be growing all the time.

When I was in university I took a course called labour history. There was a story,  about a labour leader ( I think it was about Samuel Gompers) who was asked what unions wanted and his response was, “More.” I know what that feels like.

With my focus being on the next growth barrier, the next milestone, and taking the next hill, I missed out on some really good stuff God was doing in our church.

I’m thankful that the people I mention above have begun to point out the damage caused by some of the commonly accepted philosophy around church leadership. I’m thankful that we were able to begin addressing some of this during my last two years in Ithaca.

How about you? Do you agree with Osborne’s premise? Has this myth impacted you and your leadership?

Posted by bob in church planting, health, 2 comments
Join Us In Dublin!

Join Us In Dublin!

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Would you like to make a difference in an amazing city?

We are looking for people who would like to be part of beginning a missional community in the Clontarf area of Dublin. Our hope is to start missional communities throughout the city of Dublin, and across Ireland.

Sound interesting?

So, what does it look like to be part of a missional community?

In its simplest form, being part of a missional community involves living in a way that mirrors how Jesus and his disciples lived: spending time together, sharing meals, loving and serving Jesus, each other and our neighbourhoods.

It’s about more than just ‘showing up’ on a Sunday. It’s about being a follower of Jesus IN your neighbourhood. It’s about forming relationships, both with those who follow Jesus and those who don’t, and then loving and serving the people in your neighbourhood and in your city.

If you live in Dublin and would like to be part of this type of community, or if you’d be interested in moving to the Northeast section of Dublin to learn how to start other missional communities in Dublin and in the rest of Ireland, we’d love to chat! Please use the form below and we’ll get in touch within 24 hours.

Who is Leading this?

This project is being led by Bob & Elizabeth Wilson. We have spent the past 25 years discipling, coaching and sending leaders.lizbobwilson

Currently we are team leaders in Dublin with Christian Associates International.

Prior to moving to Dublin in 2012, we planted the Vineyard Church of Ithaca in New York State, and led that church for 13 years. While there, we coached and sent out a couple who planted the Vineyard Church of Wellsboro in Pennsylvania.  Prior to the Ithaca Vineyard, we planted university ministries at the University at Albany, and Cornell University. Previously Bob was part of the Vineyard USA national leadership team as a Church Planting Coordinator, as well as a University Chaplain at Cornell University.

We look forward to hearing from you.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, please use this contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments

Sundays

IMG_9156I’m still in need of some serious deprogramming.

I was out for pints with a new friend last week and during the conversation, he asked, “What type of church do you work with?” That’s when my brain started spinning.

While it should be a topic I love talking about, the question is challenging for a few reasons. For example:

1) I’m not currently working with a church. While we were sent from our church in New York, and are here planning to start one…nothing currently exists, so it’s difficult to describe.

2) Then there is the idea of explaining type. Labels and other ‘church words’ carry a lot of baggage, and often mean different things to different people. When you hear words like, “evangelical, charismatic, contemporary, or bible-based” you likely have different ideas about what those things mean depending on whether you happen to be part of a church that uses those descriptors. Actually, take two people in an evangelical church, ask them what evangelical means, and you’ll be likely to get a couple of different answers.

So, in answering the question, I did what I’ve done in the past…I began describing the church we lead back in New York.

In reflecting back on the conversation later, I realised that everything I did to describe this picture of church had to do with the Sunday worship event. How we dress, the type of music we had, etc.

Now, part of that comes from a desire to find a common point of understanding to build on. But I don’t think that happens as often as we think it might.

It was later on that I began thinking about what those type of conversations probably sound like to most people.

While I think to those of us who’ve found something good in contemporary churches, those differences can be important.

But the image that came into my head later that night was a person trying to describe these new huts they are building…”and instead of dirt floors, we use grass floors.”

And while the distinction might seem important to you, for people who have no desire to live in a hut, your cosmetic changes don’t make living in a hut any more attractive.

So I’ve been reflecting on this from the book of Acts a bit since then…

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

When we first starting thinking about a church here in Clontarf, one of the core ideas was that it would not be “Sunday-centric.” (meaning Sunday worship was not going be the core of the church). And yet, when I’m describing the church we were part of in New York, I default to describing Sundays.

When I read that passage from Acts, what always grabs me is this picture of people living life together. Corporate worship was a part of that life…but that’s it…a part. Attendance at that event wasn’t the central purpose or goal of this community.

Now that I’ve been able to stop thinking about taxes for a while, this is what I’m thinking about…I’ll work on unpacking this over the next few weeks. Love to hear your thoughts.

 

The image above is from inside the chapel at Dublin Castle.

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments
Our Week in Madrid

Our Week in Madrid

 

 

Last week Elizabeth and I were in Madrid for a five day assessment with Christian Associates. We’ll be sharing more about this process in our newsletter. It was a good time made possible because our 20-year-old daughter took time off from work to take care of her 3-year-old sister. After five days with Méabh, I think Hannah was glad to get back to work. Thanks Hannah!

Wanted to share a few of my favourite pictures from the trip.

The Approach to the Madrid Airport.
approach
Not quite as green as Ireland. But 80 degrees Fahrenheit in late October was quite nice.

The Apple Store
apple
The first thing we saw when we exited the Metro at Plaza de Sol was the Apple Store. Since there isn’t one in the Republic, it’s always nice to see one.

Two quick stories about the Apple Store in Madrid. I was having trouble with my iPhone not connecting to the internet. My mobile company (Meteor) bumped me up to their higher level tech people on Thursday, and I still haven’t heard back. So I figured I’d try the Apple Store. While I was getting something out of my pocket to show the person helping me, a paper fell out of my pocket. Liz and I both bent down to pick it up. That really hurt.

In the end he couldn’t solve my problem either. But I was looking over his shoulder while he was doing research and figured it out. Apple really should hire me.

Plaza del Sol
plazasol
While in Madrid, the meetings we attended were at the Oasis Church. This is the view from their balcony. For perspective the Apple Store is on the right hand side of the photo, and the Metro we came from is the rounded glass structure right in front of it.

Just off the Plaza del Sol was this building which I never took the time to figure out what it was…but the chariots on top were impressive.

chariot

Sin Gluten – Sin Leche
gf1

One of the challenges in eating out is the fact that Liz needs to eat gluten free and dairy free. Traveling in a place where they don’t always speak the language adds to the challenge. Thankfully there were quite a few very good gluten free places in the area of Madrid we were in.

The Prado Museum
museum
We had a bit of free time on the weekend, but only visited a couple of tourist-y places. And although Liz and I came into the marriage with very different interests, visiting museums has always been high on both of our lists.

 Plaza de Cibeles
plazadecibeles2
We passed the Plaza de Cibeles on our way to the Prado…One thing about taking photos in Madrid rather than Dublin is that there is this very bright light in the sky there that is almost blinding at times.

Plaza Mayor
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One of the entrances to the Plaza.

plazamayor2

A view inside. We didn’t spend too much time here because, well…while I enjoy street entertainers, there a number of performers here who seemed to think annoying people was the way to go. Now, their Spiderman was interesting…

Protests
protest1
There were a couple protests while we were there…I’m not sure what they were protesting as I don’t speak Spanish…but it was impressive to watch one group take over a main street and refuse to let a car get through.
protest2
Second protest sounded angrier…but they were weren’t blocking traffic was nice.

The Palace
Royalpalace

Last but not least…


statue1
Dublin has some very interesting living statues down on Grafton Street, but the variety in Madrid was impressive…these are three of my favourites.
Statue2 statue3
Chess-guy, or whatever his name was was my favourite…when people gave money, they also received a ‘thank you wink.’

So, those were some of our highlights from a great week in Spain.

 

Posted by bob in personal, 0 comments
It Feels So Good When I Stop…

It Feels So Good When I Stop…

meabhatdollymount

I’ve met people in Europe who have told me that church planting doesn’t work over here like it does in the States where you just “put up a sign and people show up.” That’s funny for a couple of reasons. First off, that is not the experience of most church planters in the northeastern US. And, I used to make the exact same statements about California & the bible belt while I was in Ithaca, NY. (I guess the grass is always greener…)

In October of 1991 I sat outside in the middle of one of the residential quads at the University at Albany leading a bible study. Okay, that isn’t exactly what happened. The reason I was outside, was because the student who was hosting the study in his room, didn’t show up. But then again, neither did anyone else. Just me. So I sat outside and made a decision. Even if nobody comes, I’m still going to teach what I’ve prepared. So I did. I sat there in the dark and cold teaching something that I have long since forgotten. (and this was before mobile phones and bluetooth devices, so if people saw you talking to yourself, they just assumed you were…well, off a bit.)

That previous year Liz and I would at times show up to our weekly worship nights, and not even bother unpacking our stuff, because we were the only ones there.

But at one point we decided that even if nobody comes, we’ll still do what we came to do. I’ll teach to an empty room, or be the one person singing along while Liz leads worship in an empty room.

While I do think that there were some spiritual principles at work in us doing that, in many ways it was a decision on our part to persevere. We believe we are here for a reason, and until we sense God saying we’re finished, we’ll press ahead.

Nine years later, Liz and James Cherian and I, along with one other person, sat in a large empty room on the third floor of the Community School of Music and Arts building in Ithaca. It was 10 minutes past time for our worship service to start, and we were wondering where everyone was. We were all still planning on worshiping and teaching with just the four of us (well, and my three kids). However, I was going to go outside to remove our sign because I didn’t want anyone coming in and seeing that. It’d be much better they came the next week…this week would be too weird.

Liz and James, would not let me remove the sign. And sure enough, a couple walked in, sat down and we had a six person worship service.

Those are not fun experiences to go through. In the moment, they can be kind of awful in fact. But we’ve learned in our 25 years of starting campus ministries, and churches, they are just part of the deal. And while they can be discouraging when they happen, that Sunday church service with 6 adults is one of my favourites stories. Liz, James, & I have all recounted it several times, and laughed a lot about it. It remains a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness.

As Liz and I begin to embark on this process all over again here in Dublin, I’m reminded of these experiences (and way too many more just like them).

At the same time, I’m encouraged (okay that is a strange word to use) that we’ll have more of these stories over the next several years. And while I may not share all of them publicly, they are part of the process of starting something new.

It’s still difficult. We’re okay with that.

I should wrap up those two stories above. The couple that came that Sunday in Ithaca…they didn’t come back for 2 months. And when they did, well, that was our second 6 person service of the summer. (If memory serves, the sixth person that week was James future wife Anna). And strangely enough, that couple continued to attend for the next few years.

That student in Albany…he became one of our student leaders in Albany, a good friend and is currently part of our financial support team.

Even in the midst of those times when you look around and think, ‘we’ve hit bottom,’ there is usually something God is doing…if you’re willing to hang around long enough.

 

[*the picture above is Méabh walking around Dollymount Strand.]

Posted by bob in church planting, 1 comment
Recognising What Our Words Communicate

Recognising What Our Words Communicate

words matter, people are not scaffolding

Like all fields or industries, church planting has its own vernacular…words and phrases that communicate in a quick and vivid manner.

A couple of weeks ago over coffee with a friend he to referred to a time in the church planting process where a ‘bait and switch’ occurs.

Here’s what he was referring to…Often early in the church planting process the planter (future pastor/leader) spends a great deal of time with those on his or her planting team.

They have small groups together, they eat meals together. There is a common vision that draws this small band together. They willing sacrifice, time, finances, and effort to help get this new church off the ground.

All good stuff. But…once the church grows beyond that initial group of people and public worship services begin, those relationships begin to change.

Some within that original group move into leadership positions or other key roles in this new church. Others don’t.

For those who don’t, this new season in the life of the church plant is a different experience from what they had been a part of up to this point.

One of the major changes is that they no longer have the type of access to the leader’s life as they did before. That can be a difficult loss. The leader is now spending more time with other leaders of this new church and helping incorporate new people.

This can be a difficult transition for many who were part of that initial team. And as my friend said, for many it can feel like a ‘bait and switch.’

If that feeling does exist, based in reality or not, they do not end up staying with the church too long after this occurs.

What they thought they were getting into, no longer exists. And they often leave hurt as you’d imagine.

As we talked, I asked my friend if he knew that there is a word within church planting vernacular for those people. They are referred to as scaffolding. (Go ahead, Google the term: church planting scaffolding sometime and see what you get.)

Language matters…Our words matter

The words and phrases we use matter. Words communicate what we think.

I recognise that often when church leaders are using this term, they are sharing from their experience. Preparing others for a reality that they will likely deal with as well. (Because when you’re the leader and a person leaves the church…that hurts too.) And using an image that we can all easily understand.

The thing is, we can’t know everything about everyone. We’ve all had the experience of thinking someone has great potential, only to get six months down the road and discover serious character issues. That happens in all types of relationships we have, not just in new churches.

But is scaffolding a helpful way to refer to people? (that was rhetorical)

There is a move on to have people stop using phrases such as, ‘you throw like a girl.’ Because when we use words or phrases that devalue or demean people, it impacts how we view them. It just does.

When we use words that devalue people created in God’s image, can turn around build communities that love and value people?

Our first church plant

When Liz and I planted a church in Ithaca, our planting team was a Cornell University Christian fellowship I’d been leading for a couple of years. We went into the church planting process with relationship. We were all friends.

While only one person from that group is still part of the church in Ithaca, 15 years later, the rest of the team only left upon graduating from Cornell and moving away from Ithaca.

And despite living in various places around the world, we’re still connected with almost every person on that team. In fact the vast majority of them have been part or our support team as we’ve moved to Dublin to start a new church. I know we didn’t do things perfect and made mistakes, but this means a lot to us. And I hope they know how much they still mean to us.

A bit of clarification…

Having planted a church, I know that there are all types of people who come in the early days of your plant.

We had one family that came to our kick off service, and then invited our family for dinner. While we were there, they handed me a folder of articles and said this describes the type of church that they wanted to join. I made it clear that we did not have the same vision, they stopped attending.

I am not saying that everyone who comes to a church, or is part of that initial group is going to be part of it long-term.

My concern is for those who thought they were on the ground floor of something important, only to discover that they were viewed as serving a temporary function. And that function is no longer necessary.

You don’t need to be too familiar with scaffolding to know that it is not intended to become integrated into the new building. You only use scaffolding when you need it.

That is what the word scaffolding communicates, isn’t it?

Since that conversation with my friend, I’ve been wrestling with this. Here are a couple of ways I’m processing.

Thought 1) Task Oriented versus People Oriented
In any assessment I take that measures this kind of stuff, I always come up as ‘task-oriented,’ rather than ‘people-oriented’.

Being people oriented doesn’t mean you can’t get anything done, any more than being task oriented means you devalue people.

I hate this way of looking at people. I hate how it encourages us to look at people as a means to an end. ‘Grist for our mill’ as my church planting coach used to say.

While I am a task-oriented person, the church is about people. I’m trying to imaging Jesus referring to the 72 as scaffolding.

Thought 2) Introverts and Extroverts
In doing a bit of research for this post, I read an article by a pastor on a popular church leader web site. He was writing to pastors explaining how to view scaffolding in your church plant. What struck me is that he described himself as a very relational person.

I don’t know him, nor am I inclined to believe that isn’t true. But it got me wondering if this has anything to do with being an introvert or an extrovert.

We’re told extroverts generally have relationships with many people, but they tend to be not that deep. While introverts generally have fewer relationships, but those relationships tend to be much deeper.

Perhaps where we are on the spectrum impacts what ‘relational’ means to us?

The things you do…the language you use in that foundational time in the life of a church matters. It establishes culture. It tells people, “this is how we act towards one another.”

I’d love it if this was one of those words we could stop using.

Just something I’ve been thinking about the past couple of weeks.

(*the image above is of a house in Clontarf in the midst of some construction. not the most exciting image, but it served a purpose 😉

Posted by bob in church planting, 0 comments
And We’re Back

And We’re Back

wood bridge clontarf

Last spring I stopped blogging.

While I love writing, blogging had become a chore and I wasn’t enjoying it.

The previous autumn I shut down my personal blog, and focused on theWilsonsInDublin.com. It seemed like a good way to keep friends and family up-to-date with our lives on this side of the pond.

It didn’t work as I’d hoped. It was frustrating trying to come up with stories about our lives in Ireland, that we would want broadcast on a public forum such as this.

Stopping just seemed like the right thing to do. And it was.

I enjoyed the break. While I’d enjoyed running the blog in the past, it had started to feel like one more thing on my list of things to do. It was not something I was finding life in. And once I stopped, I wondered if I’d ever get back into it.

About two months into my time away, I knew I wanted to start again…the question was what to write about.

I knew it needed to be something I’m passionate about, and for which I have some level of experience/expertise.

Over the past year or so, I’ve wrestled with what it means to be passionate about something. As a starting place, I think ‘passion,’ it needed to meet the following two requirements. It has to be something that:

1) I spend at least some time thinking about every day,
2) I invest time and money learning more about it on a regular basis.

So for example, while I think about and consume coffee everyday, I don’t invest time or money in learning more about coffee. I have no idea how to roast it, or anything like that…I still need to look up what Arabica means. While I enjoy drinking good coffee, that’s about it. I got a free iBook about coffee last year…I still haven’t read it.

And while the Boston Red Sox or Apple/Mac devices would meet both of those requirements, neither seemed to make much sense. A Red Sox blog might make more sense if I say lived in Boston, not Dublin. And without the cash to buy the latest Apple devices…well you get the point.

Finally, I wanted it to be something that would have appeal to people who I’ve connected with on my previous blogs, and have the potential to reach a wider group of people as well.

Here’s where I landed…

  • Five years ago I was leading a growing church in Ithaca, New York.
  • Four years ago, I was seriously considering leaving full-time ministry.
  • Three years ago, I signed up again and began planning a move to Dublin to plant another church.
  • For the past two years I’ve had zero church leadership involvement…I’ve just been ‘showing up for church.’ (As much as that phrase makes me cringe.)
  • And now we are on the front end of planting a new church in the Clontarf area of Dublin.

At times this process has been difficult and painful. Yet, we’ve met some incredible people along the way who’ve helped us navigate this journey we found ourselves on. In the midst of this, Liz and I are at best place we have ever been. And our relationship has gone to a level we wouldn’t have dared imagine a decade ago.

Along the way as we’ve wrestled with what it means to be followers of Jesus, and church leaders. We’ve gained some insight on what it is to be part of a church, while not being in leadership.

And we’ve met so many others who’ve also ended up on a path they didn’t plan on…yet are finding life in ways they’d never imagined.

I want to use this space to talk about some of what we’ve learned.

Of course we’re still in this process. Part of me thinks that at this point we should have a lot more answers…the fact is, we have ended up with even more questions.

If that sounds like an interesting conversation, I hope you’ll join us.

 

(*the image in this post is of the Wood Bridge & Bull Island with Howth in the background.)

Posted by bob in housekeeping, 4 comments

The Best Laid Plans…

clock - change timeThis afternoon I was scheduled to take part in a video call with a group from the States. (This is part of a coaching huddle which I wrote about previously). As you might not know, unless you live in Ireland, while Daylight Savings Time began in the US last week…here it doesn’t start it until the last weekend in March.

Because we are frequently in contact with friends and family back in the States, we keep the time difference front and centre in our thinking:

  • East Coast is 5 hours behind
  • Central (which I still can’t figure out where the borders are) is 6 hours behind.
  • Mountain 7 hours behind and
  • Pacific is 8.

Of course for 1 week in autumn, and 3 in spring, that all changes. It’d be like having your favourite food need to bake at 220 Celsius…except for a week in November, and 3 weeks in March, where you need to bake at 202, or you will totally ruin it.

I missed this call last autumn when the time change occurred, so this time I noted the change in my calendar app so I wouldn’t miss it again. Obviously my brain is very much equipped to ignore my calendar alerts when it believes that it already knows the information the alert is giving me.

So that happened.

But overall, it was a week of really good conversations. (Mostly with people here in Ireland, since I didn’t need to add or subtract an hour to talk to them). A few of the conversations were scheduled…a few came out of the blue…some were about church planting in Clontarf…some occurred while hanging out over a pint. And each instilled this sense of, “I’m really grateful that we are in Dublin.”

Now if only I can figure out the whole time change thing.

Posted by bob in Dublin, 0 comments