Trees or a forest?

Before I jump into my first Collective blog post, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Jim Landwehr and I have been part of Collective since it launched in the Winter of 2014-2015. My wife and I were intrigued by the idea behind smaller, community-based house churches as part of a larger collective after spending many years at a megachurch. We jumped in with both feet and, like much of the rest of our faith walk lately, feel like we are falling. It is exhilarating, fun and we are super excited to be part of such a vibrant group of Christ followers. 

Some other things about me. My day job is as a GIS Analyst, which is a long winded way of saying Google Maps at the local level. For fun I like biking, fishing camping and I have a passion for writing. Ask me about it sometime. I'll bore you to death. You will beg for mercy. 

I live in Waukesha and my wife Donna and I have two kids, Sarah (20) and Benjamin (17). 

So, enough about me.

We had an interesting discussion about the liturgy at house church last Sunday. If you're not familiar with the way we run a house church it starts with social/coffee time. After a half hour of this, we move to the liturgy. This is not really a top-down message as much as a group reading of the passages followed by a discussion about them. 

Anyway, the discussion moved to Revelations 7: 9-17. In it there is talk about what one would assume is heaven, or the afterlife. It raised a whole lot of discussion of salvation, the heavenly realms and everyone's understanding of what those mean.

But here's where the aha moment came, when Brandon pointed out one of the beautiful things about Collective. He said that we shouldn't feel that everyone has to agree on everything they read within the scriptures. At times the scriptures are mysterious, vague and confusing. Other times they are crystal clear, clairvoyant and poignant. That is part of what makes them so interesting, isn't it? This is what should spur us to read them and re-read them.

Anyways, the discussion wandered and came back to the fact that everyone is on a journey here, and as a result, we all look at God's word through a different lens. In some case we even focus our attention on what we WANT them to say. While we want to all continue striving to get the right meaning from what we read, we will probably never agree on every point of every story.

To illustrate, I saw these trees along the bike trail today and thought of the different way people would see them. 


To a developer, these are nuisance trees. Cut them down

To a naturalist, this is the order of things. Leave them be.

To a child, this is a forest. Let's explore it.

To a woodworker, there's some good there. Cut some, leave some.

To a lumberjack, these are all the wrong kind of wood. Pass them over.

To a biker, these trees are a windbreak. Thank God for them. 


So it is a rudimentary description of how people all have different lenses that they see things through.

If we look at Biblical passages with the same kind of understanding we might be able to understand another person's take on them and hopefully learn something along the way.

That's enough of my thoughts, what are yours?