Do you know that we all have a story - something to share - a profound narrative? My narrative is filled with wonderful friends, a supportive family, caring mentors, and dynamic experiences of a disruptive faith. I am not ashamed that the most energizing of these experiences have taken place within the realm of the church and in the breadth of the Spirit of God. Our narratives are fashioned by our surroundings, education, spiritual practices, social interactions, cultural norms and so much more.
We read in Philippians 2 that Jesus stepped down from his glorious position with God and entered into our earthly realm by triply emptying himself becoming a nobody, living in the condition of a slave, and dying the death of a criminal on account of his divine selflessness. Here is the divine mystery of the ages: the glorious Son of God became one of us through his incarnation in order to serve us and die our death. What utter contradiction of terms for the Philippian community to fathom: the Servant Lord dying out of love for those who are lesser than he. In a culture obsessed with attaining social status, where lords are served and servants are expected to die for those in power, supreme status and authority are given to Him who humbled himself. Thus, if Christ’s road to exaltation came by way of his passion, suffering, and death, our aim as his followers should be to imitate him in his humble service toward others.
For as long as I can remember my narrative was and continues to be shaped by loved ones, colleagues, collaborators and partners. In my formative years in ministry, leaders of my home congregation and Accion Presbiteriana Hispana took me under their wings and later passed on the torch. Throughout my forty years of ministry both as a Ruling Elder (yes, I was voted by the First Spanish Presbyterian Church as an elder at the age of 15) and as a Teaching Elder, fellow sisters and brothers from a number of congregations guided me in my discernment process. Yet, this discernment was not in isolation, but in community. Sometimes God can call us to make individual changes or promise future change in our life; at other times, the ways of life change for large groups of people after dramatic events take place in the world.
A New Narrative
A couple of years ago, USA Today had a front page article on the millennial generation and faith. It demonstrates that even mainstream newspapers are noticing a disturbing trend that many of us in the Christian world have been talking about for some time. The article started out by saying, “Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible.” Those are conclusions that come not only from USA Today but from research done by the Barna Research Group, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, and LifeWay Christian Resources. Although the numbers differ slightly between groups, they all come to essentially the same conclusion. This emerging generation is less religious and less committed to the Christian faith than any generation preceding it. It is time for Christian leaders and pastors to get serious about what is happening to this generation. We are taking note and are impassioned to develop creative ways to reach out to a generation that has not connected with church and basic Christian principles.
Ministers, leaders, and pastors were born to dream! The headlines may paint a grim picture for the future of the Church, but youth and young adult ministry has long been a place for innovation, entrepreneurship, and vision. It’s time to imagine new ways of being church—to dream big and be open to the work of the Spirit. A number of leaders who were raised participating in this forum and who serve as leaders within the church, ask the following questions: Where do we go from here? What’s working? What’s not? Where do we find the abundant life of Christ in our lives and communities? How do we cultivate venues where relationships from various perspectives and world-views can be cultivated?
The Covenant Architects Network, LLC is a cohort of emerging and seasoned leaders seeking to engage these questions by organizing a new platform of leadership formation and spiritual development. This entity will cultivate partnerships with a number of innovative leaders and entities with the purpose of honoring our diverse communities. We will offer several seminars and studies for all ages, clergy and lay leaders during the course of the year. Our hope is to create and foster a cross-sectional plan where young adults and leaders can design a sustainable approach to ministry development within multicultural and intercultural congregations in the tri-state area.