Punk Monk and Knitting a Sweater that Fits

Years ago GOHOP went on a journey of exploration.  We loved some of the spiritual DNA we had received from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City:  praying scriptures, a vocational call for some to a lifestyle extravagantly given to prayer, the fusion of prayer and worship, the centrality of Jesus in the prayer movement.

However, we found that the IHOP model wasn’t fitting us or our context the way we had hoped.  It was like we borrowed a friend’s sweater that we loved, but our body was shaped differently, so when it was on us, it didn’t fit or look the same.  We wanted our Presbyterian friends to be just as comfortable in the prayer room as our Pentecostal ones.  Although we loved Harp and Bowl, we were eager to explore what the Apostle Paul calls “all kinds of prayer.”  And we wanted to create an expression that was meaningful and accessible to the urban poor.

Enter 24-7 Prayer and Andy Freeman.

Andy was the founder of 24-7 International’s first Boiler Room (their name for Houses of Prayer) and co-authored a book Punk Monk with Pete Greig.  In his book, Andy painted a picture of communities built around prayer, mission and justice, and models of doing life and prayer together that seemed like they might fit us better.

So we began to knit our own sweater, keeping the wooly bits from IHOP that we still loved, and weaving in strands of spiritual DNA and models that Andy and 24-7 embodied.  The end result?  GOHOP in it’s present incarnation.  Community dinners and houses.  Prayer in UHauls in back alleys.  A joyful mash up of all kinds folks from diverse theological perspectives.

Today I’m picking Andy up at the airport, and he’s spending three days with us.  We’re gonna show him around Hamilton and immerse him in our rhythms.  In a sense, he is an important spiritual father to our little prayer community.  I’m hoping that as he prays, eats, and chats with us, that he will see how God has used him to create life in our midst and help us knit a sweater that fits – that he would see his life and vision enfleshed in our community and that he would be encouraged.

Andy will be joining us at our Annual General Party at 541 Eatery and Exchange on Wednesday night at 7:30.  Once a year we gather to eat, pray, and love…. and tell stories.  I bet Andy’s got a bunch of good ones.  Maybe you can join us!

GOHOP Annual General Party

True City Conference – Tale of Two Kingdoms Feb 21 & 22

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“Our churches are figuring out how to collaborate together around mission – we’re pretty good at that part.  What we need from you is help strengthening the prayer piece.”  Dave Witt, the leader of True City, explained.

“Hmmm, you’re probably better at prayer than you think you are.  Maybe you just don’t recognize what your prayer language is.”  I countered.

That was seven years ago, and over the last years we have enjoyed a fruitful partnership.  GOHOP teachers have been invited to teach at True City churches.  I’ve met with leaders on a consultative basis to look at strengthening prayer in their churches.  We are developing emergent leaders from True City churches in our 10 month Studies in New Monasticism Internship.  Many True City folks participate in the Prayer Truck with us each summer.  And together we have mobilized the one, and now two weeks of 24/7 prayer around the annual True City Conference.

This year’s conference is going to be a good one!  Check out the conference video and come join us as we learn, serve and pray together for the good of the city!  I’m helping to lead one of the workshops, which will explore “lifestyles of resistance”.

Many Streams Make One River – Bob and Gracie Ekblad coming to Hamilton

In just over a week, from January 25-30, GOHOP will be hosting Bob and Gracie Ekblad. Bob and Gracie will spend their time building up the GOHOP community. They will be visiting with with Mission Services, The Living Rock, Barnabas Prophetic group as well as meeting with a number different leaders in the Hamilton community.

Who are they? Bob is bridge-builder. As a pastor, practitioner and theologian, he weaves together different streams of the Church: the charismatic, contemplative, academic and social justice. He and his wife, Gracie, have given their lives to bring “the good news of God’s love and liberation in Jesus to the poor and outcasts.” His work includes, prison and gang outreach, teaching graduate students, running New Earth Refuge retreat centre, preaching, running a recovery house, leading English and Spanish services and running a family support centre. He is also the founder and director of The People’s Seminary and Tierra Nueva, a multi-faceted ministry in Honduras and Burlington, Washington. Having experienced work of the Holy Spirit in life-changing ways, Bob and Gracie’s work is profoundly infused and empowered the by the Holy Spirit. They seek healing, deliverance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit wherever they minister. Bob also teaches internationally on hearing God’s voice, reading the bible with people on the margins and on advocacy. He lives with his wife and three children in Burlington, Washington. For more information about Bob, visit www.bobekblad/about/.com.

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Come to Spaghetti Tuesday on the 28th and have dinner with Bob and Gracie, and stay tuned to hear where and when you can meet them over the course of the week.

Presence

Saturday.

The intentional community workshop.

I sat as near the front as possible, so that I could photograph any PowerPoint slides. I’m a compulsive note taker, and my Evernote app lets me insert pictures as I go (coooool technology!)

There was a man sitting in front of me.

He had kind eyes.

When he saw me taking pictures, he asked if I could send him any pics that I took. I realized then, that I was talking to our workshop speaker, David Janzen.

I’m a big fan of his book, “The Intentional Christian Community Handbook; for Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wanna Be Followers of Jesus. Frankly, he had me at the title, but the rest of the book is pretty awesome. David combines decades (yes I said DECADES) of experience in intentional community with visits to and interviews in the context of another thirty communities throughout the USA, and has gathered together their collective wisdom.

Over the next week or so I will unload some of my compulsive notes from the event, but I wanted to start just talking about my interaction with David.

He was present. Even though he was just about to start leading the workshop, and could have had his attention zinging off in a bunch of directions, he spoke to you like you were the only person in the room. He asked lots of questions and was genuinely interested. Deeply encouraging and affirming. I found myself at rest in his presence – the Presence of Jesus in him, really. Isn’t it great when you can’t tell where we end and God begins?

Just in our five minute conversation, he created community.

I know he’s going to read this because he wants to keep in touch, and I said my blog was likely a better way to find out about us than our ancient and desperately needing updating website (workin’ on it!).

I got to know him well enough to know that he would likely be uncomfortable about my singling him out in this way, and try to bring focus to the group gathered that day, the community, and our shared experience. Sorry David!

But I think it’s important. It’s been said, mostly by me but by other much smarter folks too, that we teach what we know, but reproduce who we are.

As David travels all over strengthening intentional communities with the Nurturing Communities Project, may his life and ministry of presence continue to be fruitful.

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Experiments in Spiritual Disciplines

In our Studies in New Monasticism internship, our interns are reading Richard Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline. I love the way Foster moves us away from spiritual disciplines as a “to do list” to be good Christians, and invites us into a perspective of the practice of spiritual disciplines as a means of “putting ourselves in the path of oncoming grace”. God has so much he wants to pour into our lives, and we can actively position ourselves to receive it. Exciting!

For their assignment this month they are choosing some of the Christian disciplines and creating experiments where they will be exploring them in new ways or with a new focused intention.

Here are some of their experiments. Maybe they will spark some of your own!

Going for walks by myself (solitude and silence)

Deleting my Facebook account (gasp! fasting)

Giving away one evening of my time each week to help someone (simplicity)

Making myself accountable to one of my co-workers about my attitude and language towards my boss (confession)

Volunteering at church (service)

Having a dance party at my house every week (celebration)

Picking a Scripture each morning to think about while I’m at work (meditation)

Letting go of my desire to be right all the time (submission)

Not hanging out with my friends for a week to make room to talk to God about my life (guidence)

Going to church every Sunday (worship)

What about you? How would you like to experiment with Christian Disciplines?

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I’ve Applied for School!

Yesterday I submitted my application for a two year program with The Transforming Centre, based in Chicago, Illinois. Although I’m an avid reader and lifelong learner, I’ve been feeling for some time the need to find a cohort to learn and develop my leadership with, basically to kick things up a notch in my personal and professional development. Most of my study I would do at home, but would travel to Chicago for quarterly learning modules.

A Transforming Community was founded and is directed by Dr. Ruth Haley Barton. I’ve been reading Ruth’s books over the last year, and have found myself deeply resonating with her body of work. My position at GOHOP affords me the great privilege of working with several streams of the church, primarily at this time the charismatic, the evangelical, and the contemplative streams. Ruth’s work bridges those streams in fascinating ways and I find her books to be great “bridge builders” and crossover materials as I encourage those in my circles of influence to try swimming in one another’s streams. I’m also excited to sit under the teaching of such a gifted woman leader.

Here’s some info about the program.

A Transforming Community® is a group of pastors and Christian leaders who commit themselves to nine quarterly retreats over a two-year time frame for the purpose of experiencing deeper levels of spiritual transformation.

People change incrementally….over time…with others…in the context of spiritual disciplines that open us to God.

Each retreat includes substantive teaching on spiritual formation themes and practices, guided experiences with spiritual disciplines, and significant engagement in community with other leaders. The Transforming Community experience is grounded in Scripture, animated by a Trinitarian approach to transformation in community, and informed by the richness and diversity of our Christian heritage. Visit “What we Believe” to learn more about our biblical and theological view of spiritual formation.

Why should I consider joining a Transforming Community?
The Transforming Center longs to see churches and Christian organizations become communities of authentic spiritual transformation–and it starts with transforming leaders!Our goal is to help you strengthen the soul of your leadership so you are able to lead from your own experience of transformation. Key objectives of a Transforming Community:

KNOWLEDGE – To establish theological grounding and a working knowledge of spiritual transformation, spiritual community, and spiritual leadership.
EXPERIENCE – To explore and experience spiritual practices in the context of community.
ONGOING TRANSFORMATION – To guide you in developing a personal rhythm of spiritual practices that is realistic and sustainable for your life in ministry (rule of life).
COMMUNITY – To enter into an experience of transforming community that will equip you to cultivate spiritual community in your own setting.
SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND DISCERNMENT – To strengthen your effectiveness as a spiritual leader who is able to discern God’s will in your setting.
At the conclusion of the two-year process you can receive academic credit towards a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Transformation or a Master’s Specialization in Spiritual Transformation from Northern Seminary (Lombard, IL).

Cool eh? I’m excited! Mainly it’s for pastors and Christian leaders, so I’m hoping that my application as a little urban monk in Hamilton will be accepted.

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