A few days ago I wrote about the providential way God brought musician Dan Lee to our new church. As Dan's story was playing out God was also inviting Michelle Gritter to play a crucial part (for the first year... for now ;) ).
One of the big challenges of me taking on a .75 FTE position was filling the .25 preaching gap. How do you fill 13 Sundays in a way that maintains a continuous sense of voice and vision? The answer (clearly) is that you hire one preacher — who just happens to have planted a church herself, and is a very strong leader and communicator, and totally 'gets' the God-everywhere vision — to cover all 13 Sundays! And then you take all of those Sundays and create one big sermon series on the Psychology of Being Human.
Michelle is a trained family therapist who now practices in Calgary. She's an adjunct professor at Providence Seminary in the Masters of Psychology program and helps teach practicum courses for student therapists. She teaches about marriage and family, child and adolescent psychology, the psychology of aging, and a course on the integration of theology and psychology.
When we first met to talk about the idea of her covering 13 Sundays she wasn't sure if it would be a fit. But then I suggested she 'preach' psychology, "What if you take all of those talks you're already giving — on attachment theory, the psychology of aging, family systems, etc. — and make them into sermons? If all good family systems truth is God's good family systems truth then this could be a very cool way to take the God-everywhere vision to the next level."
The more we spoke about the idea the more real it became for both of us. Michelle said that she couldn't stop thinking about it after our first meeting. Neither could I.
To be honest, I've wondered if I'd one day work with Michelle for years. As a church planting peer for 15 years she was the one I invited to infill preach at my first church plant. Over my past three years away from the church it was uncanny how many times I bumped into Michelle, on the street, on the way to church, sitting in front of a friend's house. Six months ago, when I was investigating another job opportunity I actually suggested she and I share the position. We both laughed and shrugged it off.
Apparently the timing of that 'ask' was a little off. But now it's on... and for the next year Michelle will be leading our congregation into a deeper understanding of themselves. What better way to help a group of disparate (and desperate) people coalesce around a new communal vision?