I remember listening to Gracepointe Nashville’s sermon series “Progressive Christianity is…” over and over again back in 2015 as we prepared to preach our own version of this series at Forefront NYC. I remember taking notes as I listened to Stan Mitchell and Melissa Greene, because I was trying to capture the language they were using to articulate this evolving theology we were leading our community through. I needed pastors further along in the journey to help us sort out the words we were trying to find for our community, words that could offer life to people stumbling along on their own progressive journeys, those who were deconstructing and trying to figure out if there was anything left to reconstruct. Gracepointe’s friendship and mentorship offered us all hope.
It’s only four years later, but so much has changed since 2015. We’re all in a new season. Gracepointe is now under the leadership of Josh Scott and I find myself full of new words for an ever-evolving theology as I finish up year two of seminary. Serving as a Co-Director of Launchpad during this season is also allowing me to find articulation for my journey as a pastor and church planter. Today as Launchpad’s very first cohort of discerning church planters met over zoom for only our second meetup together, I listened to the wise words of Josh Scott as he spoke about his journey and passion for pastoring, and I felt that old, familiar hope all over again.
Launchpad cohorts exist for this very reason. Once a month five of us from across the country are meeting up to talk through the practical aspects of starting a progressive community. We are each in various stages of discernment about what God is calling us to next, whether it’s pastoring an online scholarly community, a dinner church or a community for LGBTQ people in the South. This cohort reminds us that we are not alone in our journeys and that here in 2019, there are many wise pastors out there who are ready to guide us on our way. Launchpad exists to bring them all together.
As Josh articulated for us today, maybe the best metaphor for discerning this journey is an organic one. From one season to the next we til the garden bed, turning up old soil that will become the nutrients for another year. Never knowing from season to season of crop raising if a harvest will come or if it’ll be turned over again. Never knowing for sure what will bring new life and what will die away. The journey of faith is like this as well. It’s continually changing, turning over, being reused or asking us to let things die away, and I would add, things grow best when fellow gardeners share their wisdom and experience.
As cohort members thanked Josh for metaphors like this, for helping them find articulation for their evolving faith journeys, I smiled to myself as I reflected on the turning of the seasons. As each of our cohort members continues to discern their own callings as pastors, Josh reminded us that being too settled is never a good thing. You can put down roots but know that you’ll never really be settled in this progressive journey, and thankfully there are always people along the way to help you find the words you need as you grow.
Josh Scott can be reached on his personal website, joshuaadamscott.com.