Welcome to Campinas, Brazil! The last week has been a roller coaster of excitement and anticipation. With the mixture of people that are on my team to the cultural differences of the people we meet, there is so much to be thankful for and it is amazing to think there is another week here.
We have been primarily working with the Presbyterian Church in Brazil(known as the IPI). From day one until today we have traveled around the region of Campinas visiting pastors and their churches in which they planted or revitalized. To hear from their perspective in their cultures has been so rewarding and I have learned so much.
Here in Brazil, during the first week, I have seen some major influences on the ministries here that are discerning their place as a church leader in their communities. One of the biggest and most powerful aspects of the growing and revitalizing churches is their desire to be more spiritual in their lives and in doing so become better leaders so that they can be better prepaired in the context. Spirituality is a tough subject for me because it has always been the one thing that I can "skip" on my schedule if I'm overloaded. Since I have been in ministry almost 4 years ago, my connectedness with God has been in a low spot. I often feel like I have left behind what I have been called to do on a regular basis. (Kind of like the person who likes hunting so much that they become a Game Warden only to barely ever hunt because they are working during the hunting season.) So, spirituality is number one. Numero 2 is mentorship. While I have a pretty awesome pastor, I see many other people who go through discernment and pastoral roles with no one to check in with. Another thing about this is that our systems are not designed to rely on the mentor-mentee model. We may have it some where in the by-laws but it is not fully used.
With this in mind, I want to say a few things about the churches we visited. We have seen house churches that turned into large worshiping communities, old churches revitalized to discern God's will for the 21st century, church growth in poverty, church growth in the upper-middle class neighborhoods. These churches, whether we always agree with them theologically or otherwise, have given so much trust that God will use them to the point where they have gone in directions that they could not imagine.
What is Christ doing in this land? Well it looks a little bit hip, a lot a bit practical and ton more focused on relationships than I could ever imagine. In the Brazilian culture, relational ministries are the only ones that sustain. We have a lot to learn from this particularly in the fields of evangelism, education and worship.
I'll hopefully have time soon to post some pictures of our adventures and when we return home, there are rumors of a video project in the works.
To TJ and my family, I miss you and am thinking about you.
To St. Paul's Community Church family, holy canoli do we have some things to consider! lol
To Ella and Willow, daddy loves you and misses you two.
Blessings from summer,