many years ago i was working for a week at a christian festival, spring harvest. it was actually the last time i agreed to go (though i am going back for a week this year). it proved to be a difficult week. i had been invited to do something creative or different but when i got there the expectation clearly wasn't that. but that week someone who i didn't really know very well asked to meet me for coffee to chat. they knew nothing of the experience i was having. but one of the things they said has stuck with me since -
you don't fit and that's your gift
it reminds me of a marshall macluhan quote - the role of the artist is to create an anti-environment as a means of perception and adjustment. it was so surprising from this particular person and was a huge relief at the time. there are lots of artists, prophets, creatives, entrepreneurs, and change agents for whom this is true and it is why they are able to do what they do. cultures need people that don't fit - it's how things get moved on when they get stuck. i have been reminded of it on this trip to the US as i have met a number of people for whom that statement could be said both in okc and austin. and they are amazing gifted wonderful people. and guess what - the institutional church really doesn't get it or them too well!
i have blogged on several occasions about the church of england creating space for recognising that pioneers have a different gift/call/set of skills and acknowledging that they need these kinds of people to create new things often around or off the edges of the existing map. there is a lot of work to be done with regards to training and a number of other issues. but at least the recognition is there. again i'm left with the thought that other denominations could learn from this. if somebody is asking a lot of questions, doesn't fit, are creative - don't push them away. give them the space to create something different and new and resist the temptation to co-opt it.
the united methodist church conference in oklahoma went well. people particularly enjoyed experiencing the worship. alternative worship, because it draws on tradition and uses liturgy plays out well in mainline contexts or so it seems. i hope the church there can reflect on what to do with its creative 'don't fit' people and resists putting them in regular churches which will frustrate them and those churches probably.
i was only there for a few days so any photos were snatched on the go, but on the last day i did get to visit the bomb memorial which is stunning. i have added some photos to a set on flickr.