Thank you so much to those who currently support the work of the urban mystic. Without your support it would not be possible to continue this work. This year I’m looking to step out further and increase the work—to go from being a small fish in a small pond to a small fish in a bigger pond. Starting a Patreon is an important step to expanding the work of the urban mystic. I discern that the next step is not only to keep going with the Podcast and add Video via YouTube but also to facilitate groups and develop a post-church community. I feel ill-equipped for this. Nervous. Scared. Much of the time I feel that God has made a mistake calling me to this. But the urge is there and won’t leave me. So I’m going with it. Here Patreon offers an opportunity to connect with people and receive support. This will enable urban mystic to develop a team who connects one-on-one with people and produces digital content as well as hosts online and face-to-face groups.
In the next few weeks I’ll launch our Patreon page. Kindly consider supporting the work of the urban mystic. But even if not, know that the work will stay de-commercialised. All our courses, our one-on-one work, podcast, upcoming YouTube material, etc. will stay 100% free. We’re not looking to establish any kind of transactional relationship.
2020 has been incredibly disruptive for all of us. For urban mystic it is a marker from one way of connecting with people to another.
Toward the end of 2019 I finally broke ties again with “doing church”, really discerning the need for an alternative. How do we deconstruct church and move toward genuine relational intimacy with God? This is the quintessential challenge of the urban mystic. Even recognising this is incredibly hard and giving up doing church tough. The institution of the church is so ingrained into our culture and society that it is hard to break away from it. And if you do, what then? Many go from one church to another and then opt out. But they’re still left with a desire for God that goes unanswered and unfulfilled. Much of my work has been with people wrestling for intimacy with God while understanding that they need to stay within one church or another. This led to many fights with pro-church people who feel that I’m betraying the faith by simply recognising that doing church is a meeting about and not with God. Back then I wondered if I gave that tie up, would I have enough work? I believed I had and yet recognised that there was a need to do it again. My calling is not to protest the church. Sure it is doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, but I’m called to work on the alternative? So I stopped. For the last months of 2019 and early into 2020 I focused on completing my Masters thesis and on discerning what the next steps were.
In 2020 I started the podcast of the urban mystic. I believed this was the “next step” for 2019 and took the plunge. The goal was to share some of the conversations I regularly have and to deep dive into the “doing church paradigm”. Shortly after starting the podcast with two rough monologues (I really want to redo those episodes!) a friend of mine, Steve Carter, joined me as co-host. The podcast has gotten better and better sharing conversation. We completed a series of conversations between us focused on the problem with doing church in the first half of 2020. By the end of the year we produced a second seasons consisting of 22 episodes. We welcomed a number of guests, local and international, some well known and others only relatively unknown. We had great conversations around their first experience of God, calling to ministry, recognition of the need to change, and their post-church journey. I’m thrilled to let you know that we’ve started recording Season 3 and look forward to sharing the new content with you in the next month or two.
One of the staple activities of urban mystic has been the hosting of small groups (7 Key Relationships and The Trinity Sessions). With the pandemic severely limiting social interaction I hosted 7 Key Relationships as an online experience. This encouraged a rethink of how to host a group. Previously I’d hosted it as small groups in homes. How do you host a group that’s so personal online? Each session included storytelling, deep listening and the practice of waiting on God. How do we do this online? Turns out this works fantastically on Zoom for the human-to-human component. How do you facilitate the practice of waiting on God? I recognised that a rethink of this component was called for. I believe I know how best to accomplish this and am hard at work on this.
In conversation with many I recognise that the whole idea and practice of “waiting on God” and “practice the presence of God” is quite detailed for me. Yet most schooled into professional ministry don’t understand this. To say “let’s make this our primary activity” is throw out a blank canvas to them. The notion of “waiting on God” and “practice the presence of God” is undefined at best and filled with crazy-ass examples of hype, performance and manipulation at worst. It is therefore important to articulate a helpful critique of the “doing church paradigm” and offer clarity on these practices – both biblical and historical – and to tie them into a “relational paradigm” that isn’t just another version of the “doing church paradigm”.
In summary, for 2021 I discern that the “next step” for 2021 is to finish my book “Christianity after Christianity”, to continue the podcast, produce some YouTube content, host more courses online, and to encourage post-church networks and communities. I’m also working on my PhD proposal and exploring opportunities for bursaries and scholarship for next year.
This is no small task. I’m on it. And I’d love to continue the journey with you.