The Church Will Succeed Despite Itself
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Paradox: R.I.P

Paradox_logo_smParadox -- the emerging community of faith that Benjy and I and a small group of young adults began three years ago -- has quietly slipped away -- R.I.P.

It has been an amazing three years, and we all have learned SO much (e.g. discovering that the "church-within-a-church" model is very difficult to pull off). Some outside observers were prone to merely consider Paradox an 'experiment' in exploring different ways of being the church, but Benjy and I always considered it to be much more than that.

Though the community never really demonstrated financial viability (i.e. independence), it was successful in ways we all considered more important --not the least of which being all the people who had finally found a place where they felt comfortable exploring their relationship with God. Friendships were forged, new ways of learning were explored, openness and honesty prevailed, growth resulted, and people were baptized into Christ.

Paradox_dispatch_smAnd although "Paradox" will no longer exist, per se, all is not lost.  Benjy, his wife, and a core group of leaders, are already meeting and planning the birthing (or is it 're-birthing'?) of a new community of faith here in town.  I'm not going to spill the beans too much here -- that's something I'm sure Benjy himself will be doing sometime soon.  I'm excited for Benjy and for this next chapter in ministry he's stepping into.  I'm also excited that they are remaining part of our Free Methodist Conference here in Southern California, and will even be remaining here in Barstow (which means we'll still be able to enjoy Mexican food lunches and breaks at Starbucks together).

I am equally excited about what God will unfold within the mothering congregation I pastor over the next year.  Our community of faith is growing and becoming increasingly supportive of the changes we're making in order to reach today's postmodern, post-Christian culture. Despite our postmodern sensibilities, and the growing number of 20/30-somethings who are attending, there remains tons of folks who don't trust churches -- any churches.  And when I think of this, I'm grateful that God has brought Benjy to our city (along with others) to reach them.

Please be praying for Benjy and the team he's leading.  And if you would, also remember me and Barstow Free Methodist Church in your prayers as we launch our search for a new associate pastor and work through the transition that is ahead.

Comments

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Hi Chris,

Congratulations!!!!

It seems you and Benjy really "finished well" here. That is so awesome.

Maybe I've become a little jaded, I dunno -- but it seems there are so many other ways this could have happened, and so many other reasons.

Sadly, churches die all the time.

But your persepctive and your heart are evidently tender and hopeful.

Amen!!!!

Give Benjy a hello from Chris & Craig, and our best wishes!!

Transitions like that can be hard - I hope and pray that it all goes as smoothly and positively as possible, and that you all recieve many unexpected blessings.

Best wishes from me, too! Seeing photos of your service gave me a fresh appreciation for what EC folk are trying to do, at a time when that was being eroded by interactions at the Ooze (familiarity and contempt, you know).

We are hoping to come visit sometime (along with a visit to the Coptic monastery nearby), and I had wanted to see the services firsthand. So I'm a little disappointed there. But whatever the next incarnation is, I'd still like to follow it.

The new adventure starts soon!

www.cata-lyst.org

Thanks for the post Chris!

Chris,
A pet peeve of mine has always been when people see "ending" and think somehow that everything that came before was "loss." Not true. There can never be an ending without a beginning -- and beginning comes from inspiration and belief. Time moves all things -- and necessitates endings and new beginnings. Thank God for this -- or life would be so mundane.
Congratulations to you and Benji on your journey in and through Paradox.

Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone.

Benjy and I don't really have any regrets about the past three years -- we're very grateful to God for having given us the opportunity to forge friendships and speak into people's lives in ways we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

It will be interesting to see what happens as Benjy and his team launch 'Catalyst'.

Chris...I wish you and Benjy the best.
If there is anything I or Horizon can do for you guys please let me know!

Thanks, Mykel. I'm sure you'll be hearing from Benjy once Catalyst is under way (if not before). Blessings,

Chris

Well I'm very sorry to hear that your group is disbanding. I just found your blog today and it looks great! I also read some of your articles, and I have no doubt that God has big plans for all of you.

In particular, I read you article that blogging is doomed. My own blog has been on hiatus for about two week now, partly because I am burned out with it. (I'd been posting articles almost daily for almost a year.) I am currently re-designing the site and will relaunch it, probably, about the end of the month.

I see that you are involved in the Emerging church and I wonder if, by some 'chance', you are acquainted with a friend of mine named Berry Alvis? He, too, is an emerging church pastor who recently made the decision to disband. I think there are lots of lessons to be learned in hindsight and I earnestly hope this opportunity will not be lost. So I wonder if your blog, at least, is going to continue? And would that be a subject you'd consider discussing?

I became involved with the emerging church in 1999 (when it was still called post modern). Berry introduced me to it. I thought they had a world of potential but also some problems. Over the years I saw a lot of that potential drain away, which was painful to see, so I believe that a retrospective look would be a good thing before a new beginning is attempted.

Anyway, I would love to be a part of that discussion if you'd be interested.

Loren, I think a better way of stating what you called disbanding would, in our case, be better described as rebanding !

Loren, thanks for posting. I'm glad you found Paradoxology!

Learning from past successes and failures is something that Benjy and I are absolutely committed to. That's a conversation which Benjy may be planning on generating at his new site sometime in the future. Think so, Benjy?

Hey DP!

I'm sorry to hear that Paradox is no more, though I'm sure that it served the purposes God had for it. We'll be praying for Catalyst and following it's progress with interest, especially since Julie and I are in much the same position right now (i.e. planting a new emerging community).

Blessings,

-Mike

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