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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear Charlie

(as introduced in the post, Blog Letter To A Friend)

Dear Charlie,

I hope this letter finds you and the fam doing well. Your boys are growing big and Jen is as amazing as ever as she cares for and loves on all her Dean dudes!

I am so excited about your new adventure into the great unknown of church planting. You are laying it on the line, as they say, by starting up another church for the Kingdom and Peoria. It sounds like God brewing some good stuff in you and those that y'all have gathered for this endeavor.

In light of that, I thought I would share with you some of my observations and struggles with re-connecting into church life since moving from Indy to Dayton. Kelly and I knew it wouldn't be easy. It never is when you leave a people and place you really dig. But we didn't think it would be this hard.

So a couple of learnings that I'll share with you before I hit the sack tonight:

1. Figure out with the rest of the people of Imago Dei Church how to connect with those that are new to the church. We've gone to four different and good churches in the area and never once did anyone come up to us that wasn't a "hire volunteer gun" - the usher greeter. Talk about disheartening. The only time someone came up to us was when I wore my college alma mater hat in church (I know, God forbid!) and asked if I went there. That started a great conversation. But if I hadn't worn my hat? Nobody would have extended us the right hand of fellowship.

So what can we do? Get people to wear there college and pro gear to church? Maybe. But can we just ask our people to be friendly, not because we volunteered to be, but because that is who we are as a people? If you don't know someone around you, say, "Hi," and introduce yourself. I don't have to meet and greet every new person - just one - then look for them in subsequent weeks (all the while looking out for someone else I do not know).

2. This is a personal reflection. I bring baggage with me to every church I go to now. It's called expectation. I like our church in Indiana. The community. The teaching. The worship. The targeted ministries for our kids. The outreach ministries aimed at poor and marginalized. And not every church we go to has those same values. And so I gripe.

Charlie, you can't be all ministries to all people. Don't kill yourself, your family, or the leaders around you based on the expectations of people with baggage. Help them where you can help them. Serve them where you can serve them. Invite them to get involved. And if they choose not to and continue to grip...move on, baby, move on.

Well, I've rambled long enough, my friend. I'll write more later. The kids will be up before I know it. Give our love to Jen and the kids!

Grace and peace,


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