Change

This month I will celebrate my 51st birthday. The other night it struck me that I am now closer to my 100th birthday than to the day I was born. Apparently reflecting like this is an indicator that I am either in or headed towards a mid-life crisis. From what I can tell a mid-life crisis has something to do with change and not feeling good about it. It could be a feeling that the world has passed us by. I have seen people try to recapture their youth. The other day I went for a run with my youngest son. He is 20 and I am, well I already told you how old I am. After three miles he was just getting warmed up and I was clearly coming to the end of my run. For a moment it just didn’t seem fair. My son can run a marathon one day and be perfectly fine the next. I would need a week of serious recovery.

There has also been good change in my life. I find myself making less impulsive decisions. Experience can bring a measure of wisdom. I like that.

Change is not all that fun and can be downright scary. This is especially true in western culture where we seem to value stability and predictability above all else. We want jobs we can depend on and retirement accounts that will carry us through our “golden years.” When stable jobs and retirement accounts are thrown into chaos, panic is quick to follow. It is in moments like this when we discover the will to change. This can take the form of developing new jobs skills and changing patterns of saving money.

I am beginning to wonder if the North American church is entering a mid-life crisis. There is general agreement across the entire spectrum of the church that the religious world is changing. If the church is going to survive and remain an integral part of culture and life it is going to have to change.

Much could be and needs to be written about the need to rethink theological and social positions. Even more critical is the need to rethink the institution. Churches, denominations, and para-church organizations have spent decades building and reinforcing their particular institutional presence. What we are discovering is that change has happened. There is a growing suspicion of the institution, liberal or conservative, it doesn’t matter. Concurrently there is an emerging belief in people. This change is huge and I suspect it is permanent. The glory days of the faith-based institution are fading. A new reality is emerging. The questions for us mid-lifers is how will we respond?

My Job

This is the time of year when we should set aside some time to count our blessings.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  25 years of marriage to a great lady, two teen boys who only occasionally stress me out and a great job. This week I want to share a little about my work and offer an opportunity for you to share in this ministry.

On December 31 DOOR officially completes 25 years of urban ministry.  Back in 1986 we were using typewriters, rotary phones, and snail mail wasn’t a recognized term.  Today all our staff has laptop computers, cell phones that do everything and snail mail is mostly a quaint way to communicate.

In 1986, DOOR hosted 175 participants. In 2011 we hosted 2,713 participants.

In 1986, DOOR had one location, Denver.  Today we host programs in six locations – Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Hollywood, Miami and San Antonio.

In 1986, DOOR did one thing, host folks from Christian perspectives who were coming to urban Denver to serve for a week.  Today we continue to host short-term groups, but programming has expanded greatly.  This year we have 42 young adults in 9 houses spread across all of our cities living in intentional community exploring a call to ministry.  During the summer months, we hire 40 high school, college, and graduate students to help lead our Discover program.  Many of these people are emerging leaders from the urban communities in which we are located.

One of our core understandings is that heaven looks a lot more like the city than a garden.  The biblical story starts in a garden, but ends in a city.  Inviting people to the city is a little like inviting people to heaven.  It is in the city where our participants very often experience God’s call on their lives.

It has been a joy to be a part of this program for 20 years – 3 as a board member and 17 on staff.  Giving witness to our programmatic, location and theological growth has been an honor.

This level of programing doesn’t happen without your generous support.  As you contemplate your yearend giving, I challenge you to consider donating to DOOR.  Your investment will be multiplied many times over as you partner with us in raising the next generation of leaders for the church and the world.

Thank you in advance for your gift.

Merry Christmas!