Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Adjusting to City Life

Plain, Washington
San Francisco, California

I realized I had adjusted to city life when I took a trip for work recently to a ranch 2 hours outside of Seattle, Washington. Some colleagues picked me up from the airport, we made our mandatory stop for coffee, and we headed out into the mountainside. It was a beautiful drive...but I found myself getting frustrated each time I lost 3G cell service.

An hour or two into the drive we made a pit stop at a Safeway...literally in the middle of nowhere. As we got out of the car, I slung my bag over my shoulder and was baffled that the others left their valuables (purse, bags, laptops, phones) just lying in their seats. When I mentioned it they LAUGHED and said, "Dawn, look around...who is going to steal your stuff?" Still, I toughed it out and carried all my belongings inside.

The rest of the week, it was the running joke. Each time I left the room they'd sneer that I need to take everything with me in case a bear with incredible fine motor skills might come through.

It took me a day and a half to really settle into this new, rural environment and it was nice. I found myself appreciating the calm, slow pace of life and the freedom of not being concerned with my surroundings. This time away also helped me realize that I am really finding home a big city. I'm learning the "rules" and I'm able to maneuver this world pretty well. It's a good realize that I'm finding home in the city life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


When I worked with youth (shout out to CPPC, North Raleigh, and SAPC), identity was always a topic of discussion. Middle and High school years are all about identity...figuring out who you are and communicating your identity to the world around you. It's also about recognizing how much of your identity you let others define for you.

In some ways, I feel like I am back in middle or high school trying to redefine who I am and how I want the world to see me. And guess what? It's still hard :/ On Sunday (5/19), I will celebrate one year of ordained ministry. One very full year as a pastor, a role which is defined by lots of different people in lots of different ways.

This role "pastor" has changed me...some. My work and my faith are more intertwined than ever before. My identities as friend, family member, and pastor are sometimes blurred and sometimes not.

What I struggle with is how much I let this role define me and how much I define the role.  I'll let you in on a secret...we're not given a list of "do's" and "don'ts" when we're ordained into this role. We're actually encouraged to step into it as freely and authentically as possible.

So, today, here is what I can say about my pastor-wife-friend-daughter-self:

- I love people.
- I love God.
- I enjoy running.
- I like not being "on."
- I love to laugh.
- I need to be reminded not to take life (and myself) too seriously.
- I like scotch (bet you didn't see that one coming...I just learned this about myself).
- I like to be adventurous and take risks, but not by myself.
- I like social media.
- I'm a church nerd (I know, big surprise).
- I like to ask "why?"
- I need community roots to feel comfortable.
- I love languages and translating.
- I admire loyalty and commitment in people.
- I like to dance and have been known to be silly :)

Knowing and owning our identity is important for living comfortably in our own skin. It also helps others know how best to relate to us. I doubt I'll ever have my whole identity ironed out, but it's nice to know that as I grow into new roles and change I don't lose past identities or morph into something completely defined by others. I am and will forever be Dawn.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Evangelism is NOT a dirty word

Evangelism tends to be a dirty word in progressive church circles. We still define evangelism as people "pushing their gospel on us." We picture people on the street (or worse, coming to our door) handing us a flyer and trying to "save our soul." We understand evangelism to be oppressive and mean spirited.

But...I LOVE EVANGELISM. Really, I do. And here's why:

"Evangelism is anything you do to help another person move closer to a relationship with God and/or into Christian community." Martha Grace Rees

Evangelism is anything we do that touches someone's life in a meaningful way and moves them closer to God or a faith community. Evangelism is welcoming people to be a part of our family of faith, it's loving on them, sharing a meal or a smile or a hug. Evangelism is telling our story of the one who loves us and why we love others...even those nobody loves.

And you know what? It's time to reclaim this "dirty word" evangelism because it is our call. It is our mission. It's biblical. Furthermore, we're already doing it. Why let someone else define it for us?

This week I have been back in school learning about a new scorecard for evangelism. Instead of counting the number of bums in pews, we're measuring our influence.... on the web, through social media, to the entire world!! That's really our mission right? Share the gospel...take it to the ends of the world. That's what any media (newspaper, radio, TV, telephone, text, tweet, like, share, etc) is doing. It is allowing us to share and spread our story in a new, evolving, exciting way.

We measure how well we evangelize (refer again to the definition as I know you've already forgotten) by measuring our influence. It's both high touch and high tech. High touch because we want the story we tell to be powerful, to be moving, to be worthy of the Jesus we love. High touch is getting the casserole to the family in need, it's providing a shoulder for someone to cry on, it's being fully present with others in a real and loving way. High tech is making the best use of the tools we've been given. It's embracing the new technologies that better connect us. This week we've played with all sorts of new social media (path, prayer engine, basecamp, etc) in churches all over the U.S. and Canada to extend our further our evangelize.

Evangelism. It's not dirty at all. It's beautiful. It's powerful. And it's our call.