Age has a way of sharpening focus. It was Samuel Johnson who said "Nothing quite clears the mind like a walk up the gallows". Well, I don't think I'm about to be hanged, but I am getting older. And an increase in years is certainly making changes in my perspective on the Christian life and ministry. I am sensing movement toward a greater clarity of purpose and toward a stronger resolve to stay true to that purpose.
Here's one thing that's come into focus for me: with all my heart, I want to keep NewWay Ministries from yielding to the appeal of our common culture. The good news of Christ remains good without accommodating our wrong understanding of the good life. I long to spend the rest of my life delving deeper into the simple gospel as it is revealed in all the Scriptures, and to do all that I can to bring that good news into the reality of our lives.
So, with that as my ambition, here's what's in the works at NewWay. First, my next book. Perhaps my greatest challenge is to know the Bible well enough for its message to determine how I live and the counsel I provide to others. And perhaps the greatest weakness in today's church, as well as in our counseling and spiritually directing community, is a limited grasp of the Bible's story that keeps us from knowing how to flow in its rhythm and advance its plot. About a year ago, I got up at 2 one morning and begged God to tell me in a few words what He was saying to me in each book of the Bible. That early morning conversation with God birthed the idea for my next book: 66 Love Letters: From God to You. I open my Bible to each book, ask God what He wants me to hear, discern His response, ask Him to let me know how that message is conveyed in that book, and then I describe the impact of what I hear Him saying to me. As of this writing, I just finished Malachi and am ready to tackle Matthew. So, that's in the works.
A few other burdens have risen to the surface. Four age-old problems are stirring my heart with new intensity: husbands and wives who don't know the joy of real connection in their relationships; parents of little kids and grown children whose hearts are breaking and don't know how to respond to their concerns with spiritual wisdom and godly passion; pastors, especially of smaller churches, who long to seize the opportunity of smallness to build true community but feel worn out and frustrated; and caring Christians who want to enter the battles raging fiercely in the souls of people they love, and do real good.
With those burdens compelling the NewWay team, here's what's in the works:
First, WOO and MOM and POP weekends, to begin in 2008
· For a limited number of couples, perhaps 15, we're planning a WOO weekend: Weekend Of Oneness - I'll lead our way through an honest, deeply personal, thoroughly biblical and , for many, perhaps a paradigm-changing 4 day weekend, from Thursday evening till Sunday noon.
· For parents of kids up to 12 years of age, another weekend is planned, and still another for parents of kids ages 13 to 25. These two parenting weekends we're calling Mom and Pop retreats: Movement Of Mystery toward the Purpose Of Parenting.
Our plan is to hold all three weekends at Glen Eyrie, and to treat them as "pilots", opportunities for me to present unfinished, in-progress ideas and exercises that will be honed at a later date into DVD curriculum series for use in Sunday School classes, home groups, and personal or family study. Housing and travel expenses, plus a fee appropriate to a pilot weekend, will be the cost to participants. These three weekends are in the works.
Second, NextStep School of Spiritual Direction
More than 700 folks have gone through our one week intensive School of Spiritual Direction (SSD). We have already held on Advanced SSD, where nearly 300 SSD grads came to study how to bring spiritual formation into the church. What's now in the works is a weeklong NextStep SSD, open only to 30 SSD grads, where we focus on translating the teaching of SSD into conversations that matter, through modeling, critique of videoed conversations, and supervision. This will be a more experiential than didactic time, a week of intensive and personal interaction in community.
Third, Pastor Chats
Nothing planned yet, just a dream. I'd love to mobilize pastors of small churches to dialogue how their congregations can move toward becoming true spiritual community. My burden deepened when my publisher decided to repackage The Safest Place on Earth and re-released that book with a new title, Becoming a True Spiritual Community. Again, nothing in the active works here, just a burden. Time and energy are key issues.
THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST AND PRAYERS. You now know WHAT'S IN THE WORKS.