Water To Wine Gathering

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Two years ago I published Water To Wine — a memoir of my spiritual journey out of Americanized pop Christianity into a deeper, richer, more substantive Christian faith. This journey was both the best and most difficult thing I’ve done in over forty years of following Jesus. I describe it as being “born again again” and use the metaphor of water turning to wine. (You can read more about my water to wine journey in this blog post: Twenty-Two Days.)

I’ve honestly been surprised at how much interest there’s been in the story of my spiritual/theological transition. I think part of the interest is that I did it as a pastor while attempting to bring my congregation with me — a risky endeavor that I more or less succeeded in doing (though not without considerable cost and pain).

Since the publication of Water To Wine I’ve received messages from hundreds of pastors and Christian leaders from across America and from a dozen or more countries who personally resonate with my story. I find that so gratifying. These days I typically receive three or four of messages a week from pastors who are on what I call “the journey.” Many ask to come visit me and I always say yes, even though it can be a challenge to find the time. A few have even moved to St. Joseph to be a part of Word of Life. I find that so amazing!

Last fall after meeting with a pastor from Texas, I began thinking about hosting a gathering for people who are on their own “water to wine” journey; I want to tell these seekers what I wish someone had told me fourteen years ago. This will also be a great opportunity for people on the water to wine journey to connect with one another. When I floated the idea on social media, it generated an enthusiastic response.

So we’re doing it! The Water To Wine Gathering, June 28–30 at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri.

I’ve asked a few friends to help me with this. I’ve not invited “big name conference speakers,” but a close circle of friends who have been on the journey with me. Of course Peri — my wife and soulmate in the journey of faith — will host some of the sessions. Peri and I will be completely transparent and you can ask us whatever you like. Denver pastor Joe Beach, Canadian theologian Brad Jersak, and author and pastor Jonathan Martin have been my closest friends throughout almost all of this journey; I’m not sure I would have made it without their friendship and encouragement. So they’ll all be participating in the Water To Wine Gathering. I want to share these friends who have shared the journey with me.

We’ll talk some theology, we’ll talk about church, we’ll talk about deconstruction (and reconstruction), we’ll talk about the menace of religious nationalism, and we’ll share what we’ve learned about leading a church beyond “cotton-candy Christianity.” But most of all we’ll talk about JESUS! And we’ll do it in a forum where you can ask questions and in a setting where you can make some new friends. Some of the content will have pastors and Christian leaders in mind, but everyone is invited.

Is there faith after fundamentalism? Yes!

Is there something better than American grape juice Christianity? Yes!

Can water to turn to wine? Yes!

Is the journey worth the effort? Yes!

Do you have to go it alone? No!

That’s more or less what the Water To Wine Gathering is about. If you feel like this might be for you…it probably is. And we’d love to have you with us in June.

You can find out more and register here: Water to Wine Gathering

I hope to see you in June.


(The artwork is Trinity by Scott Erickson and is used by permission.)