some reflections so far

1. Dogs help. We only would have met 1/3 of the people we have met so far were it not for our our poodle Damon. Walking Damon earlier today, I saw a woman struggling to carry several bags of groceries, so I went over and offered to help. She spoke barely any English, but I did manage to gather that she is from the Dominican Republic. We spoke Spanglish as I helped her carry several heavy grocery bags back to her apartment several blocks away. The chance meeting wouldn’t have happened were I not walking Damon.

An amazing story from tonight: Chrissy and I walked with Damon down to a walk/bike trail, where we saw several people standing around watching their dogs (little dogs, no less) play on a grassy area in the middle. We told each other, “we need to get to know them so Damon will have dogs to play with.” On our way back from the trail, we walked by them and Damon immediately started to sniff out and play with the other dogs. Before we knew it, we were chatting with the dogs’ owners. One of the people standing around was the guy from whom Chrissy has bought fresh produce since we’ve been here. Chrissy had already gotten to know him a little bit, so it came as a shock when we saw him in the park. One of the other dog owners we met was a young woman who just moved to Boston from Key West. She “just happened to be” a student starting her MBA at Suffolk University (exactly like Chrissy) and was thrilled to meet another student. They talked for a while, made plans to see each other again or attend a student function together, and exchanged numbers. It was quite an evening. All because of a d-o-g. (or could it be because of a G-o-d…?)

2. Ministry happens in the mundane, ordinary, everyday activities of life. People walk dogs, play in parks, go shopping, work in highrises, go to the beach, and sit on their porches, among countless of other things. How could we say we are involved in ministry if we purposefully avoid the situations where people are? How could we possibly spend more time in planning meetings or reading books or sitting in church than putting ourselves in these activities? If our God is in his nature relational, then relationship must be the cornerstone of any “ministry” we say we are doing.

3. People are people — not projects. We are learning to meet them on their turf with no strings attached — no agenda (accept to display the love of Christ). It is much easier to relate to the people we are meeting when we aren’t thinking about how quickly we can bring up their faith situation or receptivity to the gospel. In the beginning, we must get to know and love them because they are children of God, and no other reason. The deep stuff will come later. (not to mention the fact that we’re all broken somehow…the only thing Chrissy and I can do is walk with people toward the cross, and ask people to help us do the same)

4. Finally, All the planning and strategizing in the world couldn’t account for the spontaneous, take-it-as-it-comes encounters with people that occur on a daily — and often hourly — basis. Call it fate, the leading of the Holy Spirit, or what you will, but life doesn’t happen on our watch. We really can plan very little, when push comes to shove. This is why after almost a month in Boston, the idea of having all our ducks in a row with regards to “ministry” and “church planting” seems even more absurd than it did before we left. I now cannot imagine deciding back in Texas what our church in Boston was going to look like — types of songs, specific location, evangelistic techniques, etc. — without having first developing authentic relationships with neighbors and co-workers in Boston. It’s the difference between taking a potted flower to another place and planting a seed in the new soil. We cannot take our potted flowers — our preconceived notions about what “church” or “church planting” is — into soil that is completely different. The reality of this truth is hitting home.

…and that’s just after 4 weeks!

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