The threat of life

Photo of Man Sitting on a Cave

A pastoral note sent to the congregation of Kensington Community Church, San Diego, Calif. upon my appointment as its Bridge Minister.


I am so grateful I get to serve you for the next two years as Bridge Minister.

The job of a “Bridge Minister” is to support a congregation as it “bridges” from one stage to another. Bridge Ministers create continuity while preparing a church for its future.

The conversations we had during the recent discernment gatherings led us to uncover a whole lot of shared perspectives. I heard this community say it wants more frequent and more substantive communication. I heard how much the community wants more opportunities to connect with one another, more opportunities for spiritual growth beyond Sunday mornings, and more opportunities to be involved in the mechanics of how our church functions.

If you ask me, all that adds up to a really promising future for KCC. This is a community hungry for growth: growth in depth of our relationships with one another, and growth in the breadth of our relationships as we “draw the circle wider.”

In many ways, we are already seeing that growth happen.

I have seen this community step up to the plate, caring for one another and volunteering to fill the gaps that arose when you only had a part-time minister. I’ve seen you lead healing gatherings and help our youth fundraise for the upcoming Western Regional Youth Event. Our budget meeting included well over a third of the church’s membership, and we received over a hundred pages of feedback and ideas during the Lent discernment gatherings.

In March, we welcomed ◼️◼️◼️◼️ ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️, ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ ◼️◼️◼️◼️, and ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ as new members. This Sunday, ◼️◼️◼️ and ◼️◼️◼️◼️ ◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️◼️ plan to covenant in membership with the congregation. That’s five folks saying “yes” to the gift and responsibility of participating in the life, leadership, and worship of our church so far this year. Some of our new members have been active in the church for many years and are choosing to grow deeper with us. Others have only been coming for a few months and are choosing to join us in that broader circle.

But all of that is just the start.

We talked quite a bit last week about the joy of resurrection. We didn’t talk as much about this thing the theologian Walter Brueggemann calls the “threat of life:” the temptation to stay put in the quiet security of your grave rather than rise up and face the same scary world that put you there. It takes bravery to wake up in a tomb, roll away the stone, and walk around with crucifixion scars on your hands and feet and heart.

But that threat of life, Brueggemann says, is neutralized when we trust in the God who summons us to it. When we trust that the gift of the resurrection is worth the risk of resurrecting, we find adventure and abundance beyond what we could ever have imagined asking for in the first place.

I truly cannot wait to expand my time boundaries here in May, church. I am eager to join you all in continuing what we cherish and fostering growth where we see fertile soil. We may find ourselves confronting—now, six weeks from now, or six months from now—the threat of life. But I trust that if this church accepts God’s invitation to rise, we will find a gift greater than we could have imagined on the other side.

And in the meantime, I can promise you this: you are going to love Rachel. Every time we have met to prepare for this transition period I have found myself learning so much from her. She is, plainly, way smarter than me. Rachel graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School, which is like, the Harvard of seminaries. She is also a trained yoga instructor and is experienced in leading a wide variety of spiritual practices. I have found myself enriched and emboldened by her openness to the movement of the Spirit. Rachel is truly gifted, and it’s going to be a real treat for her to share those gifts with you all.

My only request is that you don’t love her so much it keeps you from letting me come back in May. I already quit my job.

Until then,