As we progress on this journey to something different – the journey toward a different kind of church community, we continue to run across opposition. We are viewed as radicals, as complainers – discontent with our past church experiences. Christians we share our “what if the church was…..” questions with, don’t get it. Good friends, even family seem to feel as though our personal struggles in this journey demand that they too struggle with these issues.. I think some people I talk to even think I have “crossed the line” as I am open to new an innovative ways of thinking of church.
I have to be honest with you – It’s discouraging. I feel alone more than I feel supported. I find myself depressed more than I am excited.
I wish that people could only see things as I now see them: a church in America that seems to be quickly losing it’s credibility with young generations alongside a culture that more than ever is spiritually cuirious and aware. The stakes are too high to miss this one. If we truly believe that the world needs what Jesus offers, both in this life and the next – that through Jesus alone God offers redemption and completion to our Genesis state, then we have to up the ante in our lives.
For us there is no longer any excuse worthy of sitting on our hands and waiting. Not economic concerns, not financial pressures, not public acceptance, not “what will my friends think of me” mentalities, not comfortable living, not the America Dream, not the fear of death or worse of failure, not lonliness, not lack of proper education, not lack of enough funds, or anything else can keep us from seeing ourselves as missioanl agents of God in whatever context he leads us to. We are no longer pastors – we are missional leaders. We are no longer Christians (in a Christendom sense) – we are followers of Jesus. We are no longer citizens of a faith-based sub-culture – we are citizens of heaven who excitedly live amongst people who aren’t (at least not yet). We are no longer comfortable people – but people learning to cope with the tension of living missional lives. We are no longer “come-and-see” church leaders – but “love-and live-with” neighbors and friends. We are people “sent to be a blessing” to the people in Mesa, AZ. No one and no thing can convince us otherwise.
While I hope that this challenges you to rethink the role the God has called you to play in the world, I don’t expect you to come to all of the same conclusions we have. Let it be said loud and clear: we are making some bold claims regarding our life choices, but please don’t feel as though with this comesa judgement of your life choices – that couldn’t be further from our hearts.
With that said, we do acknowledge that there is at times tension that arises from these life choices. For example, I am tremendously in support of a new church plant just started in the Phoenix-area. I am praying for their success and an interested in tracking with their progress. I have however, chosen a method a church planting that is fundamentally different from their chosen method and that causes a tension in my thinking at times and in discussions about this new church. I have learned that not only is this okay, but it should be expected as we dream of new and untested ways of thinking of faith and the church.