I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1).
I really do love my work! The coolest part by far is the opportunity I enjoy to meet with people who otherwise wouldn't have shown up on my radar.
It's not just the in-depth interviews for newspaper articles (probably a couple of thousand good people over the last several years), it's also the folk I'm running into because they have read something I wrote, or heard me speak, and now they want to sit down and chat.
YESTERDAY WAS A PRIME EXAMPLE:
Bo Prosser serves as "Coordinator for Congregational Life" with the "Cooperative Baptist Fellowship". The CBF comprises around 2,000 Baptist congregations who find their commonality in a theological, social and political stance that is more open (than traditional Baptist churches) to ideas such as women in leadership, social justice, intellectual freedom and interfaith dialogue.
Bo has a particular interest in men's ministry, and we have been communicating via email since the fall of 2010. This week he flew into Tampa for some meetings and we agreed to get together for coffee and conversation Tuesday afternoon.
I'LL BE IN THE BAR!
I knew he was my kind of Baptist when Bo emailed me to say "Meet me in the lobby - I'll be in the bar." Of course it turned out to be an espresso bar and he was drinking water. He was there with four regional representatives, so I got to chat briefly with several key players in the CBF, ministers from Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Georgia.
I sensed a real burden on Bo's heart for the future of The Church. Not his association per se, not Baptists in general, not even mainline Protestantism as we understand it. What I sensed was a heart full with love for people, and a sadness that so many "Christians" miss out on the richness and the joy that becomes possible when we move beyond mere church affiliation and into active discipleship as deliberate Followers of The Way.
The Cooperative Baptists will be holding their convention here in Tampa this June. My prayer is this, "That the Holy Spirit will disturb the orderly proceedings of these good people, and that a renewed passion for the Good News will propel them into a season of growth and vitality. Because the Gospel is that compelling, God's love is that radical, and Jesus wants nothing less than - in a word - everything."