Thursday, September 22, 2011

MLI retreat #6 (last one)

Well, I guess the Missional Leadership Initiative experience is now over for me. I attended my last of six retreats this past week. It started in January of 2010, and was supposed to consist of six three-day retreats (all at the Salt Fork State Park Lodge), monthly cohort meetings, and regular assignments of books to read and other various things. For the most part that all happened (other than the monthly cohort meetings). Two of my cohorts were not at this last retreat, so there were just four of us. There were probably forty-some people altogether.

Logistically... For this last retreat I drove. I picked up Tom & Steve at 7 am Monday morning, and we arrived at the lodge precisely at 11:30 am. We stopped once for coffee (at McDonald's), and filled up with gas just before we drove onto the state park grounds. We made much better time than I thought we would, because it rained pretty hard for the first part of the trip. I was glad it settled down by the time we got to Columbus.

Coming home - we left at 12:15 pm and arrived at Steve's at about 4:25 (I think). It also rained on this side of Columbus, but we didn't need to stop on the way home. All in all it was a pretty good trip. I was glad I decided to take the Buick at the last minute though - as it drives much better in the pouring rain; plus with three of us in the vehicle, and all our luggage in the back, it was just a smoother and more comfortable ride.

I actually paid to have a room to myself for this last retreat. There were a variety of reasons, but it was worth the extra $90. Of course Tom and Jim ended up getting a room to themselves too, only they didn't have to pay extra. Whatever. That's kind of how this retreat went.

I'd had a rough go of it the week or two leading up to this retreat, so I was looking forward to getting away. I was also looking forward to hanging with some friends - which happened to some extent, but had a few twists thrown in just to keep me off balance I suppose.

As usual, we started with lunch on Monday, then a meeting, then break, supper, then a cohort meeting/exercise, then we were done around 9 pm. Monday was the same except it started with breakfast at 8 am, followed by meetings until lunch. Wednesday we had breakfast, meetings, then the closing/sendoff. Reggie McNeal is who we've paid to lead this experience, and for this retreat he brought along Eric Swanson for Monday/Tuesday. Eric did all the talking/teaching on Tuesday - and it was almost exclusively from his book 'To Transform A City.' I liked him, but we HAD all just read the book that he gave us the info from.

Unfortunately the MLI experience didn't end so well for me. As I said, coming into it I'd had a rough couple weeks. Personally I was already questioning things at my own church. I think we started on this missional journey several years ago, and I struggled at times because I felt like we had already done some of the things we were being asked to do, so it was hard to continue to make the changes I felt like people were asking us to make. In the end, it feels like we've gone backwards as a church rather than forwards. Plus I always felt like there was somewhat of a disconnect between those of us in smallish, rural churches, and most of the stuff Reggie was talking about or dealing with.

But... then came the last day. I felt like I was pretty much thrown under the bus by Reggie (and maybe some others too). He ended our time together by giving us some... what he called "brain farts." One of the first ones was to take a shot at a blog post that had recently been making the rounds. It just so happened that I had just posted this on our denomination's blog (not that it's our denomination's blog, but... it's a long story). At any rate, I felt like he pretty publicly called me out. And what bothered me was that he seemed to be merely attacking the presence of the blog post (and bloggers in general), but he refused to address any of the content of the blog. Yes, the title of the post was "How the Missional Movement Will Fail"... but it wasn't necessarily anything against the missional movement. Anyway, I was pretty shocked at how the whole thing was handled, and have since been even more shocked at some other things I've heard went on behind the scenes... so I feel pretty rotten about the entire experience. But... I guess this probably marks the end for me of having anything further to do with the MLI or our denomination in general. Leaves me feeling pretty darn sad, and even more alone than I was already feeling.

So I guess that's that. Aren't you glad I'm blogging again. I know... me neither.