This year we celebrate 26 years with Crossroads Church and 15 years with The Transforming Center, a community who became the conduit for healing in my life. Today we head to the TC for an alumni retreat and celebration Here is my article that appears on the Transforming Center website this month.
Staying on the Journey: Experiencing Transformation in Community
When the invitation to join what is known as the TC3 community came, I didn’t have to think twice. I signed up immediately knowing that I had unfinished business.
You see, I spent two years with the 1st TC community. I plopped into that community at 40 years old, 10 years into our church plant. My husband and I were like the typical young church planters, a lot of – developing leaders, pushing, dreaming, strategizing, scheming, building projects, justice work, feed the poor, counsel till the wee hours of the morning, overworking-not much-sleep, pastoral couple. I was really proud of how busy and productive I was, and how tired I was when I first came to the TC.
Even the recent diagnosis of MS was something that I joked about. Through research, I discovered lots of people with MS were “Type A” personalities. I convince myself it was kind of a badge of honor in spite of the inconvenience. “Maybe I worked so hard that I wore off my Myelin Sheath,” I would joke. With that false badge of honor, I would say, “I’d rather burn out than fizzle out!” When the neurologist said managing MS included rest I laughed and said, “I usually work through things and it all works out.”
So, when I landed at the TC and found the first spiritual practice Ruth offered was “rest,” I wondered if God was saying something I needed to hear or if the whole world had gone lazy. Rest? Really? I needed to “work in the vineyard because the sun was going down.” I used to tell my congregation “Night is coming when no man can work so now we must work the works of Him who sent us. Jesus will one day say to us enter into your rest so for now let’s keep working for Jesus!”
In that first TC community I didn’t practice everything that was offered but I learned to practice rest. I told my neurologist that rather than trying the daily interferon or steroidal injections I’d like the rhythms of retreat, solitude silence, praying the hours and rest. Even though she and her colleagues didn’t agree she supported my decision.
Staying on the journey
Signing up for the TC3 community was a commitment to stay on the journey of transformation. Strengthening the soul of my leadership included the sacred rhythms of experiencing community that were not based on my achievements. Add to that the practice of self-knowledge, self examination and confession helped me discover false self strategies that kept me moving at break neck speed in the first half of life, were addictions that would not serve me or the people I was called to lead in the second half.
I learned “production” was my virtue and “deceit” was my vice. I was discovering that I had deceived myself and others into believing I could live beyond my human limitations. Classic “S” on my chest grandiosity was my MO. I was beginning to understand I had an image management strategy to keep anyone from seeing my limits, and it was wounding my life and the life of other people.
Invitations at the TC to practice “honoring my body” as the temple of the Holy Spirit, included listening to my body and letting go of people pleasing and work that was no longer mine to do. It was a wonderful scary part of the journey. Who would I be if I didn’t do all of it? How important would I be to the ministry if I shared the work I had always done myself?
As a workaholic, I was being invited by God to confess that my life had become unmanageable, and I did. I began to “fast” the work, the applause and the criticism that came with it. Don’t get me wrong, I was still working as a Lead Pastor; I just wasn’t Uber-working beyond what I was made to do. This second community, TC3, help solidify my way of “being” in ministry. The second TC Community, for this workaholic, became my AA of sorts. It held me in a safe, non-judgmental place, with the right time, people and disciplines to experience the grace filled transforming power of God.
Life Altering Space
My husband and our elders were thrilled to invest in my experience. They financed both TC1 and TC3 community experiences (and for my husband for TC4.) They were grateful that our leadership culture was changing and learning rhythm’s of work and rest, silence and word, being and doing! My vice was no longer driving our congregation in my compulsive personality style. The redemptive virtue of truth helped us find a new grace-empowered journey. Transformation was happening for us all.
There is so much more I could say. It’s been 15 years since TC1 and 12 years since TC3, I continue my rhythms and it has saved my life. At 5 years my neurologist said “I can’t say you are healed but I think this is more thanremission.” At 12 years I was told that the MRI showed my brain was “unremarkable.” Never thought this performance-oriented-driven leader would want to hear that my brain was unremarkable! I am well and this is the work of God!
All the Lord has done through the TC has impacted this leader and our church in incalculable ways. Thank you to my beloved teacher, Ruth Barton. God has used her as healing conduit for me and our congregation. To the staff and serving communities of the TC, THANK YOU for creating and supporting this life-altering space! Every pastor we encounter, we recommend they take a step in their journey of transformation with the TC “for the glory of God, the abundance of their own souls and for the sake of others.”
As part of our 15-year anniversary celebration we are sharing stories and testimonies from each completed Transforming Community to celebrate all the Lord has done. We hope these stories will inspire you to continue to go deeper in your relationship with God, draw you into celebration of all the Lord has done, and encourage you to partner with us in all He has yet to do!
Read more stories of Transformation from TC3
Rev. Clare Loughrige was a member of Transforming Community #1 and #3 while serving as Co-Lead Pastor with her husband Scott of Crossroads Church and Ministries in Marshall, MI. She and Scott also participated in the Leading a Transforming Church program, 2012-2014 and as a Transforming Church are a part of the Transforming Church Initiative. Since Transforming Community #5, Clare has served as a Spiritual Director for every TC Community. In addition to 26 years at Crossroads, Clare brings her transforming leadership to educational communities and social justice agencies; including the Leadership team of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task force and President of the International Enneagram Association Midwest Chapter.