The Colorado sunshine bathes red rock formations on the slopes surrounding Larry Crabb's house. Outside the living room window, shaggy deer nose sparse bits of grass. "Donkey deer," Crabb explains. "On the East coast, deer are very attractive. These are not the most attractive deer. They're probably eating my flowers right now."
One ugly deer peers in the window as the popular conference speaker, psychotherapist, and professor listens to a quote from one of his 16 books, a hopeful hypothesis about the church, The Safest Place on Earth:
"A spiritual community consists of people who have the integrity to come clean. It is comprised of those who own their shortcomings and failures because they hate them more than they hate the shortcomings and failures of others, who therefore discover that a well of pure water flows beneath their most fetid corruption."
Leadership: Have you seen such a place?
Larry Crabb: When Philip Yancey read the book, his comment to me was "It seems to me you've written about a place you've never seen but hope you will someday."
I've now seen it in a church we helped start back in Indiana. They are an incredible community of people who live in an ongoing brokenness with joy. And my wife and I are now in a spiritual formation group we started over two years ago with three other couples. We're close to it. I think in twenty years I'll still tell you we're close to it. Spiritual community is like a good marriage. It's good, but never ideal. We're getting closer to it.
Spiritual community as you describe it seems to be a place where we can be honest about our sins and open about our weakness. How does that include pastors?
I think the missing element in most pastors' lives is community. Pastors spend ...