We are thrilled to welcome Daniel Kirk as the new Newbigin Fellowship Pastoral Director for San Francisco.
“How do you describe Newbigin House to people who have never heard of it before?” That was my question to Scot Sherman, Executive Director of Newbigin House of Studies, across the lunch table.
He said something eloquent about being a center for spiritual formation, guiding people from various vocations into a practice of the Christian faith that both makes sense and is life-giving in the urban, educated, connected world that too often fails to connect with the assumptions and convictions that brought us into the faith.
He said something like that. But what I heard was, “Christianity for grown-ups.”
For many of us faith comes to a crossroads (or a series of crossroads) as practices that once gave us life no longer feed us, as cherished convictions prove to be untrue, or as unexamined assumptions wither when exposed to the light.
Perhaps we are unable to recapture life-giving experiences from an earlier time in our lives. We don’t form the intimate and excitement-filled relationships that our youth groups or college fellowships offered. We no longer find life in being part of a tribe that has all the right answers.
Perhaps we discover that the Bible is not a magic book. Its words did not magically appear, but were written by people who were very much of their own time and place. Its words do not magically change us, but have to be weighed and considered and interpreted—and even then might not make us look more like Christ.
Perhaps we discover that God is not a genie from a magic lamp. The world often will not reflect the goodness of the God whom we believe has fashioned it. Our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears.
“Christianity for grown-ups” is often born from the seeds of disappointment or confusion or disillusionment. But it can grown and produce life-giving fruit because soil into which those deaths are tilled is tended by the hands of the God who gives life to the dead.
A spirituality worth embracing is a spirituality fed by the Bible we actually have, in the midst of the communities in which we actually find ourselves, in life-giving engagement with the God who is at work in the ways that we actually experience.
In ten years as a seminary professor my favorite part of the job was walking with students through this transition: providing glimpses of a different world, standing at the crossroads together, and journeying together into a faith that looks more like the way of Jesus.
This is why I am excited to be coming on board at Newbigin House as Pastoral Director for San Francisco. I can’t shake the hope that the more our journey is conducted with eyes wide open the more profoundly life-giving we will find our exercise of faith to be. I can’t wait to continue to have my eyes opened and faith strengthened as I walk with through the crossroads into “Christianity for grown-ups.”
In my role as Pastoral Director I will be working with the fellows and cohort leaders of the Newbigin Fellowship. This nine-month, intensive program equips fellows with the framework needed for the wise integration of faith, work, and life. It is designed not only to make us more spiritually engaged persons, but to become a people who are engaging our world in such a way to bring to it a greater share in the fullness of life and flourishing that God wants for all people.
The time is now for you to join this journey! The deadline to apply for the fall cohort is coming up fast: July 15. You can find the application on the Newbigin House site. I hope you’ll join me in this next adventure.