Friday, September 28, 2007

My mom

My mom passed away today, September 28th. I got a call from my brother telling me she had died in a car accident. I was in shock and couldn't hardly speak except for a few expletives. I called Karin and became hysterical. I left work and came home to start sorting through everything. My brother called later and told me apparently it was not a car accident but she was on her way to work and pulled over into a neighbor's driveway and died instantly.

She was 58 almost 59 (this October). She was healthy, active and very spiritual. I always thought that I would have some sixth sense before something like this so you could say your goodbyes. But, that didn't happen and she died with me still never really forgiving her. It's too much to go into now but that will be one of my biggest regrets. I was able to see her a few months ago at my grandfather's funeral and we were able to mend some brokenness. It was the first time I had seen her in over 10 years. Karin and Tayler got to meet her for the first time.

I know the next few days (weeks, months) are going to be difficult. I already have remorse, anger and depression. I am not sure of the funeral arrangements as it has literally been just a few hours since her death. But, I will be leaving for Tuscon, AZ in the next few days. I do not think that Karin and Tayler will be going.

I will post more soon but had to use this as a way to write out everything going on in my head and heart. Some posts in the future will probably be kept private. Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just wondering out loud...

I've been in kind of a funk the past few months. I know there was a grieving process of leaving a ministry. I also realize that I am finishing my Master's (graduation is December 15th). But, I also feel as though I am having an awakening in my own life. For months I have tried to piece together exactly what I was thinking and feeling. I allowed my frustration with the institutional church come out. I have not been able to complete my final project because of everything I was feeling and thinking. I had an idea of what I wanted to say but did not know if it would be seen as a toddler throwing a fit or as a visionary who has a clear message. I am hoping for the latter, though depending on your view of me, it might come across as the former.

I do not know why it took me so long to figure any of this out. But, I know a turning point came a few weeks ago at our prayer/ launch team meeting. One of the ladies attending stopped me in my tracks and prayed over me. She prayed that I would be freed from the prescribed way of thinking about and doing church. I appreciated the prayers but still felt extreme confusion and fear.

It has been over a month since then and four months since my resignation and I still wrestle with God's will in all of this. However,I have been remembering what God has been doing in me since college. I grew extremely dissatisfied with the traditional church and quit going. I wanted to be a part of something that I felt was making a difference and not just fulfilling a duty. I looked at the multi-million dollar complexes and wondered what God thought of it all. I began attending a church plant that seemed to have the same heart. I then briefly went to seminary in Texas believing that is where I should be. I soon left because of the reliousness of the seminary. But, my journey began long before then.

Today, I began to be overwhelmed with our financial stress. I realize that I cut us off from the Wesleyan church, I chose not to work for a month and that I am driving a truck that has 216,000 miles on it. But, I "told God" that if He wanted me to plant this church then I would need to see His provision. If I could not take care of my family then I would not believe this is where I was being lead. A friend of ours pointed out that most people would look at me and think that I lost my mind. I sometimes agree with that sentiment.

I look around and see that really the only thing I am qualified for (and even care about) is church ministry. It is both frustrating and freeing. It is frustrating because I cannot get a job that will pay a decent salary so I have to settle for just anything. It is freeing because I "know"* that this is where God has me (*knowing in the sense that I have a desire to see the people in these communities reached out to and I do not feel a peace about going anywhere else). Now, admittedly I have always struggled with going between thinking too highly and too lowly of myself. I think that with my experience, education and leadership abilities that I could be working in a cushy church somewhere making a nice salary (and maybe someday I will). But, then I go back to why we started Restoration- there is a whole group of people that are being left out of the traditional, institutional churches- even the ones who claim to have "post-modern services". I see what has happened in just two services and am amazed. But, it is so challenging.

I remember when I told the pastor that I did not want to go through the Wesleyan church's process. I came home singing "I'm free" and wanted to download every song on freedom. I am so sick of committees, power players and politics in the church. I am sick of so called "accountability" (which is often nothing more than the "will to power" over another). Admittedly I do not like authoritarian authorities. I understand the need for accountability but accountability is not code for dehumanizing another and dissecting their every move. I like being trusted and given freedom to do what I feel called to do. I thrive on being creative, a visionary and seeing a "missional code" in a given community.

Last week I was talking with a local pastor and sharing my heart with him. He said "oh yeah, I've been reading a lot about the emergent church". That one statement set off so many lightbulbs. Yes, I am planting an emergent church. It is not something we are doing it is who I am. I don't know why it took me so long. I have been indoctrinated with postmodernism and the emergent church for the past five years. I have held these beliefs long before I knew any terminology or models. But, understanding this movement has put words to my thoughts and legitimized what I had been feeling.

The emergent church is more than I can explain in this little post. But, some common themes is that it is relational, a journey, leadership is from the bottom to the top, experiential, and missional. I am beginning to come out of this fog and find my footing. I have wondered if I would grow into this role or if I would look for a new position in a few months. The only thing I can say is that I am on a journey :) I don't have to have it all figured out. I see God moving and growing me up. I see people being drawn to him through this ministry. Our bills are being paid on time and we have food to eat. But, I also wonder if this area is open to a ministry that is so far out of the box as where I want to go. I feel that in some ways I outgrew my last position and was ready to move on. Now, I am trying to plant my roots and it feels like every breeze could knock me over and destroy me.

If you have read this far you must not have much else going on because I feel there is a lot of randomness in this post. Thank you for your time. I will continue thinking out loud (Thank you, Chris (my brother from another mother), for your vulnerability and giving me courage to stretch myself).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Baptism and Brokenness

This past Sunday was our second service for Restoration. The word is spreading on who we are as a church. There were not as many people at this second service but the Lord showed up in amazing ways. Right from the beginning of the service we began to see people broken before the Lord. We heard testimonies and stories from several people who were at different stages in their walk with God. It was encouraging to hear people's struggles but to also hear how people have been victorious. It was a perfect night to end with a baptism. The topic was "Is there more to faith?" and we looked at how faith changes everythang! It was a fun night and the next one will be on "Is there more to marriage?" We'll have a bonfire after the gathering.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Especially Heather

I have been following this blog and you should is amazing and moving to say the on the link below


Monday, September 17, 2007

Restoration Church Second Service

It's hard to believe but our second service is this coming Sunday at 6 p.m. It is still at the Lizton Lion's Club. The topic is "Is there more to faith?" Does having faith really matter or is it just an "insurance policy"? We're going to explore the different purposes of faith and why having it should make a difference in our lives. Like last time music will be lead by Shifting Shadows and it will be casual. You can go to for more information.

Next month the topic is "Is there more to marriage?" We will explore God's intent for marriage and how we can experience what God has for us.

Finally, if anyone is interested we are having a launch team meeting this Wednesday night to go over the weekend schedule, pray and brainstorm different ideas for the church. The meeting is at mine and Karin's house and begins around 7'ish. I try to keep to an hour or so.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

God Is in Control...Yada... Yada... Yada

God Is in Control...Yada... Yada... Yada
by Len Evans

I toyed with the idea of writing this anonymously because I was scared that it would come across bitter and angry since…well, I'm probably bitter and angry.

David wrote about walking through the valley of the shadow of death; well, this past year it seems like we've been camping out in the valley of the shadow of death—and the dangers, toils, and snares have come courtesy of some Christians and some churches.

I've never served in a true mega-church (2000 on a Sunday) or had 200 active students every week, but I've been fortunate and able to do some pretty cool things in youth ministry land. I graduated from a great seminary, pastored thriving youth ministries, spoke at national youth worker conventions, and wrote lots of articles and curriculum—even a recent book.

Despite all these accolades and appearances of success, it's been a rough haul recently. So I thought I'd share some of my recent journey with all of its fear, doubt, and messiness, written in the moment.

The Dark Days – 4 months ago

I've been looking for a new ministry position for over six months. I left the church and have been without income for almost three months; my savings will run out soon. I've played back the last church situation in my head hundreds of times. Seems it "wasn't a good fit"—which was true in some ways. At the end, my senior pastor told me I didn't fit in well with the church culture—and I agreed, since it seems to be characterized by material affluence that's led to an attitude of entitlement.

I made mistakes and I could've done things better, but I didn't do anything worthy of being asked to leave…er, excuse me…I "resigned"—of course, it was made clear to me that it'd be easier to provide some severance if I agreed my departure was 100% mutual.

There were no moral issues, my behavior was above reproach, and I was told that I'd left with grace. (Does telling this story—albeit true—still qualify me for leaving with grace?)

I believe there's a plan for me, but I just wish God didn't have to use these kinds of people to accomplish it.

The Darkest Night

I've never really considered abandoning youth ministry until tonight. I looked at my wife and told her, "If this church that we're talking to doesn't work out, I'll leave youth ministry. I'll leave any sort of ministry."

I'm tired of my wife being hurt by promises that are broken by church leaders. I'm tired of telling my daughters, "It'll be okay, maybe this next church is where Jesus wants us to be," and "No honey, we're not poor yet. Don't worry about those kinds of things." But most of all, I'm tired of being treated like a corporate employee who's simply there to do the bidding of the higher ups.

This whole experience makes me just want to find a job to pay the bills, focus on loving my family, and go hide in a church rather than serve in one. Then fear kicks in as I wonder who would hire a 35-year-old former youth pastor with no "real world" experience. I still, and always will, love the church; though some churches really tick me off with how they treat people, especially youth workers.

Don't get me wrong. Some youth workers should be fired. Heck, some of us never should have become full-time youth workers in the first place! But right now, it feels like there are a lot more of us out there who should be treated better than we are.

I've had over 20 phone interviews with different churches, and yet not one place has worked out. Four have been very close. One even said, "We can have you here in two weeks," and then the next day called and said, "We're sorry; we think we rushed the process."

Maybe God is telling me that I should get out of ministry or maybe that I should wait. I'm not sure what the answer is, and I'm not sure, at this moment, what I want the answer to be. My theology tells me that God is in control and in the end it'll all be okay—but right now I don't want to hear it, and frankly I'm not sure if I believe it.

The Rest of the Story

It seems that my camping permit to the valley of the shadow of death was a temporary one. It was so dark on some days that I joked with my wife that if it got much worse I was going to take my daughters' Bibles and pitch them, saying, "You won't need those." I didn't really want to, but that's how low I was feeling—wow!

As I reviewed what I wrote four months ago as a cathartic exercise at my lowest point in the search process, it's still hard to relive or even recall the extent of the pain I was experiencing.

After interacting with over 40 churches in response to my resume, I'm currently a volunteer youth pastor while working a full-time job somewhere else. Lots of stuff about this church excites me, especially the leadership. They're all on the same page, and they know where they're going. And they're hoping by faith and proper planning to hire me full-time in another 4-5 months.

Meanwhile, a church of 8,000 contacted me last week with the words, "You're at the top of our list." But the truth of the matter is that this church of 350 is such a great fit that I'd rather be here as a volunteer than pursuing that next step up the youth ministry success ladder.

Through this process I learned several things: to trust God more than my resume; that contentment comes from God's plans, not mine: and that it's okay to hurt when life's circumstances go from bad to horrid. Most importantly, I learned that God really is in control, even when I think about pitching the kids' Bibles.

Len Evans is the author of Creative Bible Lessons in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus and is the family pastor for Grace Bible Church in La Vernia

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Foster Parenting

Many of you know that we were foster parents several years ago. We have taken in lots of kids and thought we would even adopt a couple of them. It has been almost four years and we are beginning that journey again. We are in training this weekend and next. Just like before we don't know where this will lead or what children will be brought into our lives. But, this is a path we are pursuing out of a love and passion we believe God has given us. It is always scary to open yourself up for all to see. I (Brian) am a very guarded person and do not like the scrutiny or politics that go with foster parenting. However, I believe even more firmly that every child deserves a home and parents. And, so, it is with this in mind that we cautiously and prayerfully step forward. We know so much more this time around and feel much more prepared. That does not mean that it will be easy but we might just give ourselves a little more grace. Pray for us that we will have discernment, love for the children, and wisdom to do this for God's glory.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27 (New International Version)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

World Restoration Church? updated 9/8/07

I know- sounds strange. When we started this church that was the name I wanted to go with but I was afraid it would sound a little nutty so I went the safe route and called it Restoration Community Church. However, I have been looking at where people are from who use our website and it has been surprising. We have people from Florida, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina and many other states visiting. But, there are also people from Korea, India, Russia, Italy, France and Poland (and other countries) visiting on a regular basis. It is truly becoming a global community. So, who knows? Maybe it will be "World Restoration Church" before too long and that is very exciting.

We checked who's been to our site and there have been people from Beijing, China, Malaysia, Germany and the Netherlands. It's just very cool to see a worldwide community developing and to be a part of it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Is There More To Life?

I have posted the manuscript to my first message on the church website. I tried a new format for it that seemed to work well. There are three 8 minute parts and after each there was time for interaction and discussion. We have received a lot of positive feedback from it. Feel free to comment, critique or use it as a devotional. Thanks!