These days, so many of us find ourselves looking into the mirror with questions about about our identify, our allegiances, and our belief systems. We’re trying to figure out where we fit into the world and, how we’re supposed to guide the next generation in doing the same. Most of us are challenging the assumptions we’ve previously made of ourselves, the institutions we have called “home,” and oversimplified presumptions about the stories of those that have come before us.

A couple of Sundays ago, Braxton Kemp joined me at the “pulpit,” to share a conversational sermon about blind spots and a mutual longing to see more clearly. 

What a gift it has been to discover something in the world that feels life-giving, as opposed to the familiar weariness and loneliness that so many of us have grown accustomed to in the pandemic.

Seeing (again) is life abundant (again).

On Wednesday, October 20, 2021, interested conversation partners will physically enter into the sanctuary at Tabernacle Baptist Church in RVA, and others will virtually enter into the space by way of zoom

  • Participants, both “in-person” and virtual, will step into a dimly lit room with invitation to sit in silence.
  • We will strike a match and light the Christ Candle at 7 p.m. sharp (EST) and proceed to spend the next two hours “adjusting our vision” through the vulnerable and messy work of holy conversation.
  • The first portion of the evening will invite the larger group to listen to a conversation. The second/longer portion of the evening will expand the conversation to the larger circle. We will conclude no later than 9 p.m. (EST)
  • Anyone with a desire to continue or join the conversation may do so when we gather back together the following week.

 

THE DETAILS. THE WARNING LABEL.

This isn’t a space for spectating.

This is an engaged space where sharing will be the norm. We don’t intend on asking for deep levels of vulnerable sharing in this space. That said if you feel compelled to go “there,” spontaneously and informally, nothing is stopping you. We’ll provide some helpful questions should you choose to invite a handful of new and old friends to continue the conversation in a local bar, back porch, park bench, or living room.

In turn, this isn’t a space for multi-tasking. 

Virtual and “In Person” participants are expected to be fully present from the moment they step into the space until the moment we say “amen” and step out of the space. If you don’t feel you can commit to full presence, we ask that you wait to join us until you can do so. The only devices that should be “on” during the conversation are those you are using to participate in the conversation. If you can’t make the commitment to fully engage, on any given Wednesday, it’s ok. Work and school deadlines happen. Stress at home happens. Surprises happen. Rest and retreat should happen. Whatever the reason for needing to step out of the conversation, do so with full blessing. Watch the recordings and jump back in when you are ready to be fully present in the space again.

This isn’t a space where weekly attendance is expected.

It’s ok if you join us one week and miss the next three. The recordings will be invaluable in preparing you to step back into the space the next go around.  

FYI: There are other spaces where smaller groups of 5-12 people, each with unique covenants, lean into vulnerable sharing and invited accountability. Weekly commitment is an expectation in these spaces as it’s critical in the building and keeping of trust. Should you find yourself looking for that kind of space, reach out to one of the leaders and we’ll go from there. 

This as a space where simple answers to complex questions will be rejected.

You should expect to leave the space with some conviction. If we’re going to expect God to receive our honest questions, we should expect God to have some questions for us to consider. This is a space where all questions will be welcomed.

We’re going to lean into exploration of words that most of the western world have little or no use for.

Examples of these words might include: discipleship, mission, sin, evangelism, heaven, hell, etc. If you aren’t familiar with the host church, you might assume that you already know how we’re going define those words. We encourage you to join us in placing aside the assumptions about any one person or group represented in the room.

We will also explore phrases and words that tend to shut conversations down (e.g. white privilege, idolatry, pretty much any word that ends with “…..ism, etc.” If this is going to be an honest conversation, one that leans in holy wonder and expresses a deep longing for transformation, we need to be open to complexity and honest about our blind spots. In Christ, seeing (again) is life abundant (again). Limiting our vocabulary and arriving with preconceived assumptions, will only limit the potential for seeing differently.

This is a space hosted by a local church but created for the Universal Church. 

Whereas, Tabernacle Baptist Church is hosting the space, the conversation is so much bigger than the small congregation that has made a home at the corner Grove and Meadow in Richmond, Virginia. God is guiding all of us to make a road by walking together. Conversational leaders, and conversational partners (FYI – that’s you), will come from multiple contexts, all with unique world views and life experiences. Long story short, the invitation to participate in the conversation goes well beyond any one local church and we’re going to prioritize the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives in this space. 

This space is designated as “Sanctuary” for all.

Sanctuary is a space where all are made welcome, where each and every one of God’s children come to understand that we are loved as we were made, in all of our beautiful messy complexity. Sanctuary is an active space of hospitality AND transformation alike. Transformation means, “come as you are with the assumption that Christ loves us too much to leave us as we are.”

Expect to be welcomed fully. Expect to be challenged fully.

This isn’t a space for children.

While all adults and youth are invited to join us, it doesnt mean that everyone should join us. This is a space set aside for honest/messy story sharing, full expression of doubts, wide open questioning, and the testifying to revealed wonder along the way. We’re going to lean into the tension that surfaces and we’re going to encourage the embracing of holy mystery. Each of us will need to determine our level of comfort in stepping into this space and each parent needs to determine if their teenager is ready for a conversation with limited boundaries. 

Like us, you’re probably wondering about what needs to be made available for children and youth not-yet-ready for this kind of conversation. A group of leaders are actively engaged in discernment about the next right step in the spiritual and emotional formation of our children and youth. Expect news soon.  Remember, the first critical step in the formation of children and youth begins with the formation of the adults that will lead them.

So there you have it. You’ve been invited and warned 🙂

We really would love for any teenagers and/or adults to join us. It is really important that any and all conversational partners honor the intent of the space.

Our first weekly gathering will take place on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. We will start at 7 p.m. sharp and wrap up no later than 9 p.m.

Show up in person at 1925 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220 OR virtually.

If you’re driving, you can park for free in the pay lot on Meadow or park in the alley parking lot and/or blacktop behind the building.

www.tbcrichmond.org

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