I put my shirt on backwards this morning. That's all you really need to know in order to understand my current state of mind. Or perhaps one more detail; it took my, nearly blind without her contacts in, wife's observation to point it out to meets morning. Just one more piece of evidence in the mounting case against my own personal abilities to carry out this task laid before us. I'm referring to the launching, or planting .... Launching just sounds so much more forward motion like ... Of this new community dedicated to following and being Jesus in the city.
I'm very much ok with not knowing what I'm really doing ... In fact, I think that my awareness of this...my assessment says that I'm very "self aware"...is in fact brilliance in the making. It keeps me off my feet and desperately relying on Gods still small voice to propel us forward.
I am not ashamed to tell you, from the inside, that this church planting thing is not as cool and brave and entrepreneurial as it can be made out to be. Others in my field may be upset at my revelations, they still may want to be the "man behind the curtain" version of the Wizard, but I'm not one for smoke and mirrors. If done in a God, not self, honoring way, it becomes more stumbling, staggering, listening, waiting and then more stumbling and staggering. Repeat. The real stuff, in my opinion, comes from something known as "resilience". In my vocabulary, this is one of the most prominent qualities that enables someone who does what I do to be able to, in fact, do it. Resilience is a much desired quality to be discovered when you are going through an assessment to determine your chances of actually succeeding in establishing a new church community. In common, everyday language, it means that, when knocked down, you have the ability to get back up to fight another round. It sounded noble enough to me when I was told that my resilience was assessed to be fairly high. I saw all 22 of the Rocky movies. I once even ran up those iconic stairs in Philidephia with the theme playing loudly in my imagination.
I will tell you two things about this resilience in church planting thing. First of all, it is true, the need for it I mean. If you want to experience an intense engagement with "spiritual warfare", and I don't recommend it, take a turn at church planting. There is a decent bit of being knocked down along the journey. Sometimes it comes in expected adversarial places. Sometimes it comes from "friendly fire". Regardless of the source, one thing is consistent, it does in fact come. You can try to whitewash it and make it all "for the good of the cause" glorious and "rejoice when you suffer" bible quoting stuff, but the reality is that it doesn't make it less painful and it doesn't make it easier to get up. One thing I know is that getting up always means getting knocked down again. Resilience is crap and most days I kind of resent it being a quality of mine ... But make no mistake, it is what leads me ever forward...and it is necessary. Secondly, the best thing resilience does, in my opinion, is not enabling you to get up again, it is enabling you to rely on something beyond yourself to survive and succeed. What I mean is that, at some point along the way, you become dependent on the author of this bizarre journey to carry you along, to stand you up and dust you off and once again propel you forward. In fact, you become aware that its not about you at all. This thing I've been called into is not of my making and I am not propelling it forward. It is propelling me, propelling us. I have discovered that the greatest benefit to lying on the ground is that you have nowhere to look but up. And that is a very good thing.