Galileo Church

Quirky church for spiritual refugees. Who would Jesus love?

Weekly worship, Sundays at 5 p.m.
at the Big Red Barn
5860 Interstate 20 service road
Fort Worth 76119
(use the zip code in your GPS for accuracy)

Mail comes here: 6563 Teague Road, Fort Worth, TX 76140

Contact us: 817-773-3147 | info@galileochurch.org

Our missional priorities:
1. We do justice for LGBTQ+ humans.
2. We do kindness for people with mental illness and in emotional distress, and celebrate neurodiversity.
3. We do beauty for our God-Who-Is-Beautiful.
4. We do real relationship, no bullshit, ever.

After Sutherland Springs Mass Shooting

Galileo Church
from the Homestead
November 11, 2017

 

Dearly beloved,

I hope that this letter finds you anticipating worship tomorrow with the same eagerness as I. I look forward to joining my voice with yours in praise of our God-Who-Is-Beautiful, remembering the faithful love of Jesus, and celebrating our empowerment by the Spirit of the living Christ.

This week I have spent time in the company of our Spiritual Care Team and with several individual members of the Missional Logistics Team. We have wondered together what it feels like to return to our worship space after the massacre at a Baptist church in central Texas last Sunday. We know there is fodder for real fear; we know that our celebration of “safe space” feels naïve when no public place is truly safe from the gun-powered rage of broken people. We have considered whether Galileo Church should take measures to “protect ourselves,” although we never arrive at a satisfactory solution that would offer absolute protection from the persistent problem of evil.

So here are some things we propose to do in the wake of Sutherland Springs:

1.   We will continue our life together in the spirit of fearlessness that God’s Spirit has granted us, even if it seems naïve. In the face of senseless evil, hope always seems naïve; faith always seems naïve; love always seems naïve. But these are our virtues, embodied in the life and death of the Messiah we follow, vindicated by the Mother/Father of us all in his resurrection, and imbued in us by Jesus’s living Spirit. If we give up our faith, hope, and love, by placing our trust in weaponry and the potential for defensive violence, then we are playing somebody else’s game, telling somebody else’s story of the way the world works. We are committed to the One Story, the one that ends with God Getting Everything God Wants – and toward that end, we are committed to wanting what God wants, and embodying that desire in our habits of life together.

2.   We will continue to give corporate voice to lamentation in worship through our prayers, singing, and preaching. Truth-telling about the chronic tragedy of the world’s brokenness is one of Galileo’s prophetic commitments. We will not ask anyone to pretend that “everything’s fine,” or that they are less (or more) affected by recent events than they actually are. We will not pretend that nothing has happened.

IMG_4432.jpg

3.   We will maintain the “no guns at Galileo” policy that the Missional Logistics Team (then the Leadership Team) adopted on January 20, 2016. Shortly after that meeting we posted signage in both English and Spanish at Red’s Roadhouse (which was then our worship space) disallowing both open carry and concealed carry of firearms; and those signs came with us to the Big Red Barn. This feels like a decision we made when we were not afraid; and thus it feels like a decision that should be honored. This means we will not ask or allow Galileo folks who have firearms to bring them to worship, and that we will not employ an armed guard to watch over our worship time.

4.   We encourage Galileo worshipers to be familiar with the “run, hide, fight” protocol recommended by the Department of Homeland Security, not only for time spent with Galileo Church, but for time spent in any public place. You can watch videos on YouTube detailing the run-hide-fight strategy, but it’s simple to understand. The very best thing to do if you are endangered in a public space is evacuate. Toward this end, we spent considerable time this week making sure that exits in our worship space are unblocked. And we will continue our weekly process of unlocking available exits on Sunday afternoons, and relocking them when it’s time to go home.

5.   We encourage you to seek out a Spiritual Care Team member, a Missional Logistics Team member, or a member of our pastoral staff if you have any questions, concerns, or criticisms; or if you need to process feelings of anxiety or anger related to Sutherland Springs (or Pulse or Las Vegas…); or if you need to express feelings related to this letter. We are ready to hear from you, and listening carefully from a place of deep love.

Co-conspirators and friends of Galileo Church, you are dearly beloved, first and best of all by the God Who imagined you and called you into being, and Who holds your life in God’s own hands. You are also dearly beloved by the servant-leaders who watch over our life together. May your days and nights be flooded with that knowledge; and may “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” our Lord (Philippians 4:7).

grace and peace,

Katie and the Spiritual Care Team (David, Francine, Harmony, Melina, and Travis)
in consultation with individuals from the Missional Logistics Team

On Covenantal G-Groups

Galileo Church
from the Big Red Barn
June 21, 2017

Dearly beloved,

We hope that this letter finds you strong in the strength that God supplies, purposeful in your discipleship of Jesus, and enjoying the comfort and communion of the Holy Spirit.

This letter is long, we know. If you don’t have time to read it all, please skip to the section called “G-Groups: a new plan”; and also read the section “What to do now.”

Background re: Infrastructure

It’s been about ten days since the servant-leaders of Galileo Church (that’s the Missional Logistics Team, the Care and Feeding Team, and the pastoral staff, plus a few of our littlest kids) gathered for twelve hours (twelve hours! in a row!) to consider how our church might best accomplish all that God has entrusted us to do and be.

It remains our deep commitment to let God show us new things about how God is working in us. We are (mostly) unafraid of disruptive change as long as it serves our reason for being: to seek and shelter spiritual refugees, rally spiritual health for all who come, and strengthen every tender soul with strength to follow Jesus into a life of world-changing service.

You are probably aware that earlier this year we got some strong clues that our infrastructure (which is how we connect people to each other) was not as strong as we thought. That is to say, our ways of connection for the sake of Christian friendship were not (always) promoting strong relationships. Strong relationships would give us a common sense of purpose, could withstand the healthy expression of incommensurable points of view, would promote deepening discipleship of Jesus for every individual, and would build up trust in and among the whole church.

Some parts of our infrastructure were doing that, but not all the parts, all the time. So the servant-leaders convened to talk about infrastructure – in other words, where the metaphorical “house” of Galileo is strong, and where it’s not strong enough. This is especially important because we believe that we will, someday, absolutely go through situations that are as hard as the one we faced together in the winter/spring of 2017. We have a chance now to make some changes that could be vital to our continued survival for the sake of the gospel we exist to share and the refugees who are not here yet, and we’re grateful for that chance.

G-Groups: form follows function

As you likely know, Galileo has one large gathering each week for worship (Sundays at 5 p.m.), and many small gatherings that happen throughout the week at taco bars and coffee shops, in the Big Red Barn, and in people’s homes. These small gatherings were the particular focus of our working retreat, during which we discerned two main purposes for G-Groups.

1.   G-Groups are Communities of Care in which we honor each other’s stories. By practicing habits of listening, narrating, and truth-telling, we learn to trust each other. We share mutual vulnerability. We take turns. We tell our stories. We pray for each other. We allow each person to be exactly who they are, without judgment, without expectation. There is little time for noisy chitchat; G-Groups are more likely to clear the clutter that fills our heads so much of the time. Like Jesus, we take risks in listening and speaking (and being quiet together) so that we can meet people where they are. We each expect that we, in turn, will be met and seen and appreciated and loved.

2.   G-Groups are Communities of Learning in which we deepen our discipleship of Jesus. Together we learn (or relearn) the One Big Story that God has been telling for a long time. We read the Bible. We join in conversation with scripture, with each other, with authors we respect, with our servant-leaders, with our Lead Evangelist. We come with soft hearts and open minds. We want to know what God wants, so we can want what God wants. We look to Jesus as the fullest expression of God’s logic (logos, “Word”, see John 1:14) among us. We do not expect to ever finish this work, but we hope to keep moving closer to the Center all the time. This is rehabilitative work for many of us who originally learned this One Big Story in a way that diminishes and hurts us or our neighbors. This rehabilitative theological exploration takes time, and we’re lucky to be doing it together.

G-Groups: shared expectations

The servant-leaders recognize, however, that G-Groups have been operating without a shared set of expectations about how G-Groups should function to best accomplish the dual purposes of Care and Learning. It is time to be explicit about what we believe G-Groups need to successfully achieve those purposes.

1.   G-Groups need leadership support. Those who lead G-Groups need training, curriculum choices, and ongoing connection with other servant-leaders for counsel and relief. Leaders should usually not also be group hosts; it’s too hard to be in two roles at the same time.

2.   G-Groups need shared hosting. Those who host G-Groups (in their home, or at a public location) need support in this work, and occasional rest from it. G-groupers (people who come to G-Groups, obv!) can share the responsibilities of set-up, clean-up, meal preparation, and attendance reporting. Each G-Group needs a system for taking turns, in part to prevent host burnout; and the church should provide teaching about how to participate as a helpful partner in a G-Group.

3.   G-Groups need consistent attendance in a right-sized group. G-Groups work best when G-groupers are consistent, and when the groups are right-sized. About a dozen adults is the maximum number for most groups. We know that every person can’t come every time, but prioritizing attendance is important for the group’s sense of safety-in-belonging. And that safety-in-belonging is essential for the Care and Learning that are the groups’ dual purposes.

4.  G-Groups need to prioritize Care and Learning in the way they spend their time. Without setting a rigorous, uniform schedule for all G-Groups, we want to communicate the expectation that eating and drinking, checking in, praying, and engaging biblical-theological learning are essential components of each week’s G-Group meeting.

5.   G-Groups need to connect G-groupers to and within Galileo Church. It is our high hope that G-Groups will be conduits of close connection with the whole body of Galileo Church. Galileo is forming (and reforming) a theology, ethos, ethic, and whole-church relational web, and it feels important that everyone who enters Galileo at any point, including G-Groups, be able to participate in our life together. That is not to say that every person in every G-Group should always be present for Sunday worship and other expressions of our life together. But it is an express desire that G-Groups intentionally draw near to the heart of the larger church, rather than drifting toward an isolated existence apart from the larger church.

G-Groups: a new plan

Here is a plan that we hope will form G-Groups that are strong Communities of Care and Learning, while addressing the shared expectations for leaders, hosts, G-groupers, schedules, and whole-church connection.

1.   We’re scheduling quarterly turnover. G-Groups will follow a standardized, quarterly schedule together. New quarters start each December, March, June, and September. G-Groups will meet for 10 weeks, and we’ll take a church-wide Sabbath rest from G-Groups for 3 weeks.

2.   Leaders and hosts will vary from quarter to quarter. Indeed, we hope to recruit enough new leaders and hosts that no one will host or lead a G-Group more than three quarters of the year – two would be even better. Leaders will receive training and support, and shared hosting responsibilities will be communicated to all G-groupers.

3.   G-groupers will sign up for G-Groups every quarter. G-groupers promise to prioritize attendance for 10 weeks. G-Groups that currently hold more than a dozen adults will divide in ways that we hope are natural and freeing. If you are currently in a G-Group that you love, you can (mostly) stay with that group, understanding that it may divide into smaller groups, change its weekly schedule, meet at someone else’se home, and have a different leader.

(This means that we will no longer publish a long list of all the G-Groups and invite people to go to whichever one they like; that system has contributed to overcrowding and inconsistency of attendance, hurting the possibility of those groups engaging in Care and Learning. The G-Group leaders and hosts, the Care and Feeding Team, and the Lead Evangelist (moi!) will work to make sure G-Groups are balanced and beautiful. If we mess that up, let us know, and we’ll work together to fix it.)

4.   Newcomers to Galileo will be offered a G-Group just for them: Galileo 101. We hope that new G-Groups will grow from this shared experience, with leaders and hosts drawn from among those who have been around a little longer.

5.   The Lead Evangelist (moi!) will travel to each G-Group on a rotation. I’ll be available to answer questions about the church, or to talk about the biblical-theological foundations for our life together, or just to get to know each of you better. We imagine that G-Groups might send me a question that they’d like to explore, so that I can prepare a discussion around your questions.

6.   Curriculum and scheduling will be… well, not standardized, but deliberate. We ask that each G-Group choose from Bible study, book study, G-grouper autobiographies, or other curriculum that supports Galileo’s mission and missional priorities; and that each G-Group report to the servant-leaders their ten-week plan each quarter.

7.   Some G-Groups will remain open – i.e. come when you can, any time, no sign-up required – and constant – i.e. no quarterly rotation or Sabbath breaks. Open G-Groups include:

-- G-Sunday, Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Big Red Barn. (Formerly called Sunday School for Grown-Ups.)

-- G-Kids and G-Youth, Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Big Red Barn.

-- G-Coffee, Sundays at 3 p.m. at McDonalds next to the Big Red Barn.

-- Bible & Beer, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Fuzzy’s in Mansfield.

-- G-Study, whenever its leaders select a new book and set up a schedule for reading and conversation, at AB Coffee in Mansfield.

Working groups of servant-leaders

The servant-leaders still have work to do to implement the plan we’ve outlined. We’re forming five working groups that will meet during July and August, bringing back their ideas and plans to joint meetings of the Missional Logistics Team and Care and Feeding Team.

1.   Working Group for G-Group Leadership Development and Curriculum Support. How do we train leaders for G-Groups (separate from hosts) who can lead check-ins, Bible studies, book studies, and prayers; and help make connections for pastoral care? Members include Ryan Danny Felber (staff), Allison Justus-Smith (MLT), Nathan Berry (MLT), Melina Madolora Wikoff (CFT), Laura Jean Allen (ordination candidate).

2.   Working Group to Develop Shared Hosting Handbook. Can we (a) recruit and train hosts that are not already hosting, and (b) collect and produce resources for the sharing of host responsibilities in G-groups? I.e. recipes, food purchase ideas, meal service recommendations, clean-up ideas, reimbursement instructions, timing guidelines. Missy Holtman (MLT), Susan Chiasson (MLT), Francine Speer (CFT), Kaytee Bates (CFT), Aisling Jones (MLT), Eleanor Garrett (ordination candidate).

3.   Working Group to Schedule Leaders/Hosts/Locations. Our new quarterly schedule will start September 2017. We’ll recruit leaders and hosts, map locations, and give instruction to the whole church about what’s about to happen. Harmony Weber (CFT), Katie Jane Owens (MLT), Mark Wikoff (MLT), Missy Holtman (MLT), Francine Speer (CFT), Tyler Araki (ordination candidate).

4.   Working Group to Reimagine Care & Feeding Team. What is the role of the CFT in the overall Galileo infrastructure? What is the relationship of CFT members to G-Groups, including and especially G-Groups that are not the primary group for any CFT member? Melina Madolora WikoffKaytee BatesHarmony WeberTravis WeberFrancine Speer (all CFT), Jenny Jacobson (ordination candidate).

5.   Working Group to Plan Integration of Newcomers. What is the best structure, within a quarterly G-group structure, for getting newcomers connected in G-Groups? How do we teach Galileo 101 without insisting, “this is the way we've always done it”? How do we form new groups so that we’re not packing existing groups with more people? Kimberly Grogan (MLT), Astreia Yates (MLT), Corina Sosa (MLT), Ashley Dargai (ordination candidate).

What to do now

Galileo’s servant-leaders hope for three things – nope, four:

1.   That we will be engaged together in prayer for our church’s infrastructure, as it is the framework for all that we are called to do and be together, and we need God’s help and each other’s cooperation to make it work. Pray your thanksgiving for the G-Group leaders and hosts who have opened their hearts and their homes to so many for so long. Pray God’s help for our working groups, for future hosts and leaders, for G-groupers across our whole church who depend on this infrastructure for companionship on their journey.

2.   That all G-Groups (except the Open G-Groups as described above) will take a Sabbath rest in July and August of this year. In other words, don’t meet as a group. Invite each other to dinner, go bowling together, get ice cream with church friends, whatever… but let your group leaders and hosts, and all of our best intentions, relax and breathe for a while.

3.   That each Galileo person (G-person?) will prayerfully consider whether you might be a good leader or host for a G-Group – not forever, but for one quarter at a time, with plenty of training and support. If you’re wondering whether this might be a good fit for you, please let me know and I’ll talk and pray through it with you.

4.   That our church will be ready for a September G-Group Restart with new configurations, new hosts and leaders, and new expectations for how we can be Communities of Care and Learning for each other.

We continually give thanks that God has called us into community with each of you, and that the Spirit of the living Christ is helping us live into the future of God’s imagining. Please let us know what this letter means to you. May God lead us more and more deeply into Communities of Care and Learning, for God’s own sake, and for the sake of the world God loves, and for the sake of the people who are not here yet.

grace and peace,

Katie, with the Missional Logistics Team, the Care and Feeding Team, and the pastoral staff of Galileo Church

After Trump's Inauguration

Galileo Church
February 3, 2017

Dearly beloved,

Grace and peace to you in the name of God our Parent and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m writing this longish letter to communicate some things I’ve been thinking about the life, health, work, and care of our church. I’ve consulted with the church’s servant-leaders (the Missional Logistics Team and the Care and Feeding Team) for help with these thoughts, and I’m grateful for their discerning wisdom.

1. A pastoral observation

We observe that it’s been a grueling social-political season these past few months. Our families, our work places, our schools, and just about every public space are buzzing with conflict, negativity, and alarm. There is an onslaught of news every day, much of it truly frightening. Basic protections and kindnesses we thought we could take for granted, for ourselves and our neighbors, are jeopardized.

Many of us have reported feeling increased anxiety tending toward terror. Many of us convert fear into anger tending toward rage. These feelings can fuel productive action, but they can also lead to spiritual exhaustion, both personal and communal. Spiritual exhaustion often takes the form of overwhelming hopelessness. Negative changes seem sudden; working for positive change seems discouragingly slow.

2. The church’s dilemma

The church in every place and every season is called to be engaged with the world God loves, speaking out against injustice and working diligently to pull God’s future into this present moment, especially on behalf of neighbors who have less voice and more to lose. Galileo Church is committed to having a public voice in the cultural conversation about who has value (every human being!) and how our government demonstrates human value through public policy decisions. We are an activist church, and our voice has gotten stronger over our few years together, with the Spirit’s help.

At the exact same time, the church in every place and every season is called to provide sanctuary from the world’s brokenness. God intends that our communal life would produce peace in our hearts, and strengthen us for our individual lives. We are meant to multiply hope and joy for and with each other – not fake optimism or false cheer, but the deep-down hope and joy that come from remembering that God is in charge, despite all appearances to the contrary, even when we are in distress. This is our work for each other, and we’re pretty good at that, too, with the Spirit’s help.

The dilemma is, sometimes our call to prophecy (justice! engagement! protest!) and our call to pastoral care (kindness, sanctuary, caregiving) are in conflict with each other. Pastoral care can tend toward a kind of slothful escape from reality – not really our tendency. Prophetic engagement can tend toward a kind of alarmist frenzy – oops.

3. Recommendations

Keeping in mind that dilemma, and our collective preference for activism tending toward alarmism, we make the following recommendations.

a.   Be careful with yourself, for the sake of your mental and spiritual health. Absorb news and social media judiciously. Curate your feeds in Facebook, Twitter, etc., so that you’re not assaulted with content that scares or enrages you so often. Listen to or read enough news to stay current, but try not to obsess. Choose a reliable newspaper online and check those headlines, rather than letting social media curate all the news you receive. Try using the “Groups” app for Facebook to stay connected while avoiding the triggery stuff that steals your hope.

b.   Employ your personal social media voice with confidence. Use it to inform each other about things you’ve learned from good, reliable sources. Recommend good reading to your web of connection. Announce your own actions with clarity and pride: “Here’s what I’m reading; here’s the next action I’m taking; here’s what I’m praying for; here’s where I gave money.” Reveal yourself as an engaged Christian who actively loves this world God loves – whatever form that love takes for you.

c.   Let Galileo Church remain a haven from the chaotic urgency of every alarm. We do not mean that we are squelching political conversation at Galileo; we just mean that there are better and worse ways to have that conversation.

Please don’t:

--   Please don’t post each new Trumpian assault in the Galileo Facebook group. Not everybody agrees on everything all the time. (For example, in the case of the Uber CEO who was on the president’s economic council – some of us wanted to boycott Uber, while some of make our living driving for Uber. Another example: some people think all our energy should go toward getting one Cabinet appointment disapproved, while others are much more worried about a Supreme Court appointment. Priorities differ; positions differ; even as we find common ground in wanting to make the world a more just and generous place. Respect the difference.)

--   Please don’t post language that makes it sound like everyone should show their activism in the same way. Some people are energized by public protest; others are praying powerfully at home; others have money to share to shore up front-line justice work; others are powerfully engaged in social media activism. It’s easy to insist that “everybody” or “we all” should show up or write a letter or make a call or give money or retweet – but it’s almost never true or helpful.

--   Please don’t commandeer our weekly G-group conversations with litanies of political/social bad news, to the neglect of other kinds of conversation. People are still seeking work, coming out, grieving loss, celebrating change, loving their kids and dogs and cats; and all these things still need to be shared. Our G-groups are a great place to practice loving the neighbor who is sitting right in front of you. Some of our groups really enjoy political conversation, we know; perhaps they can consider setting aside a designated amount of time for it, then letting it go? We will not run out of bad news to share, it seems. But we can be the boss of how much of it we need on any given day.

Please do:

--   Please do continue diligently in the disciplines of prayer and communal study of the Bible. Our G-groups are a rare opportunity to consult with each other about God’s beautiful vision of the world God wants. Use your time together to do the things churches do – Bible study and prayer, shared over food and drink as a sign of God’s generous provision to us. Consider also whether your group might benefit from reading books that help inform the Christian way of life in the worst of times. Your church leaders have suggestions, if you need some.

--   Please do let your discipleship of Jesus call you into deeper engagement with the world God loves. Follow your passion into activism – protest, boycott, write letters, phone the reps, whatever works for you – and share your experiences through your personal social media, so your church friends can rejoice with you and pray for you.

--   Please do trust the missional priorities of Galileo Church to guide our communal action, developed over several years together, through the Spirit; derived from our strengths and gifts; and flexible enough to shift with our growing life in Christ.

--   Please do trust the theologian-in-residence (that’s me!) to continue to connect Biblical theology to the world as it is, always. The teaching and preaching we share is meant to show us each how to be the light of Christ in and for the world.

--   Please do trust the Missional Logistics Team to call us to communal action when the time is right. We are keeping alert concerning local, state, and national policy issues that connect with our missional priorities. We are seeking opportunities for Galileo Church to exercise its voice all together. If you have ideas about that, you can contact any of the MLT members: Aisling, Allison, Corina, Kaytee B, Malcolm, Nathan, or Susan.

--   Please do trust the Care and Feeding Team to care for you in your distress and to strengthen you for good work in the world. You can call on any of our shepherds for help: Aaron, Francine, Harmony, Jenny, Kyle M, Missy, Ros, or Travis.

4. Confession and benediction:

Your church leaders don’t know yet exactly what Galileo Church is called to do and be in this new season. Most of us have never lived through anything like this. So we are working on it, faithfully and prayerfully. Will you pray for us, as we pray for you?

Receive this blessing from the ancient church, still our promise and our hope:

May the God of peace, God’s own self, sanctify you entirely.
May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls us is faithful. God will do this.
(1 Thess. 5:23-24)

grace and peace,

Katie, in consultation with the Missional Logistics Team and the Care and Feeding Team

© 2013 Galileo Church