Greetings up/rooted friends!
It was great spending time with so many of you again last night; and it was especially great to meet so many new folks as well. We had quite the diverse group, from at least five different Midwestern states, all there to hear Doug Pagitt speak. Besides our regulars from the Chicago area, and Doug himself who hails from the frozen tundra of Minnesota, we had a group from eastern Iowa make the drive in order to gain some insight in hopes of starting a cohort in that area as well. We also had a representative from a sister cohort in west Michigan visiting last night too. (We might even count Wisconsin, as we had a friend join us who lives in Illinois but pastors a church up in Milwaukee - plus our beer was from Wisconsin.) At any rate, it was a great time of good food and making new friends as well as renewing old acquaintances.
Our time with Doug was very informal. After we each introduced ourselves we just opened it up to questions for Doug. Most of the discussion revolved around Solomon's Porch, the church community that he pastors up in the Twin Cities, which he described in his first book, Church Re-Imagined. Doug began by telling us the story of how they chose the name of the church and how they got it started. Rather than telling us how The Porch is different than other churches (though I guess it has something to do with a 10 foot paper mache goose that hangs over Doug's head when he talks), he began describing for us what it is like, i.e. how it is similar to other faith traditions and how they value these various streams of the faith. However, this discussion quickly led into asking Doug to describe for us the unique way that they do their sermon/biblical study time, or what Doug calls "Progressional Implicatory Preaching" - which just happens to be the subject of his second book, Preaching Re-Imagined. This led us into some practical questions of how to balance difficult personalities and disagreements in doctrine in such an interactive format, as well as how to keep the notoriety Solomon's Porch has acquired from ruining the dynamic. (To which Doug's reply was "We're just not a show pony.") On the other hand, others wanted to know how kids and adolescents are integrated into the life of the church, while still others wondered about the missional dynamic at The Porch and how that gets lived out practically.
It would take too long for me to try and summarize everything Doug said in reply to all these great questions and all the others that were asked last night. But fortunately, if you want his answers to at least some of them, you can simply pick up a copy of the book and read all about it. I know that for me, Solomon's Porch has been an inspiration for the kind of church we want our new church plant, Via Christus, to be like.
Doug wrapped up the night by leading us in a Body Prayer, which is a practice they use in their church of praying through the symbolic postures of one's body rather than through mere words. Incidentally, this is also the subject of Doug's third book, Body Prayer.
We have another very special and unique event for up/rooted next month. Rather than a "normal" small group discussion gathering, you are all invited to a Faith and Politics Forum on Immigration that I am helping to coordinate with several other pastors and churches in the Fox Valley area. It will be an open "town hall" style forum with a panel discussion of several local pastors and practitioners on the question of how we should look at issues of illegal immigration through the lens of faith. If you'd like to come and contribute to the discussion or just observe and learn, please join us at 7pm on Monday, October 23rd at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Aurora.
Hope to see you there!