I've been in kind of a funk the past few months. I know there was a grieving process of leaving a ministry. I also realize that I am finishing my Master's (graduation is December 15th). But, I also feel as though I am having an awakening in my own life. For months I have tried to piece together exactly what I was thinking and feeling. I allowed my frustration with the institutional church come out. I have not been able to complete my final project because of everything I was feeling and thinking. I had an idea of what I wanted to say but did not know if it would be seen as a toddler throwing a fit or as a visionary who has a clear message. I am hoping for the latter, though depending on your view of me, it might come across as the former.
I do not know why it took me so long to figure any of this out. But, I know a turning point came a few weeks ago at our prayer/ launch team meeting. One of the ladies attending stopped me in my tracks and prayed over me. She prayed that I would be freed from the prescribed way of thinking about and doing church. I appreciated the prayers but still felt extreme confusion and fear.
It has been over a month since then and four months since my resignation and I still wrestle with God's will in all of this. However,I have been remembering what God has been doing in me since college. I grew extremely dissatisfied with the traditional church and quit going. I wanted to be a part of something that I felt was making a difference and not just fulfilling a duty. I looked at the multi-million dollar complexes and wondered what God thought of it all. I began attending a church plant that seemed to have the same heart. I then briefly went to seminary in Texas believing that is where I should be. I soon left because of the reliousness of the seminary. But, my journey began long before then.
Today, I began to be overwhelmed with our financial stress. I realize that I cut us off from the Wesleyan church, I chose not to work for a month and that I am driving a truck that has 216,000 miles on it. But, I "told God" that if He wanted me to plant this church then I would need to see His provision. If I could not take care of my family then I would not believe this is where I was being lead. A friend of ours pointed out that most people would look at me and think that I lost my mind. I sometimes agree with that sentiment.
I look around and see that really the only thing I am qualified for (and even care about) is church ministry. It is both frustrating and freeing. It is frustrating because I cannot get a job that will pay a decent salary so I have to settle for just anything. It is freeing because I "know"* that this is where God has me (*knowing in the sense that I have a desire to see the people in these communities reached out to and I do not feel a peace about going anywhere else). Now, admittedly I have always struggled with going between thinking too highly and too lowly of myself. I think that with my experience, education and leadership abilities that I could be working in a cushy church somewhere making a nice salary (and maybe someday I will). But, then I go back to why we started Restoration- there is a whole group of people that are being left out of the traditional, institutional churches- even the ones who claim to have "post-modern services". I see what has happened in just two services and am amazed. But, it is so challenging.
I remember when I told the pastor that I did not want to go through the Wesleyan church's process. I came home singing "I'm free" and wanted to download every song on freedom. I am so sick of committees, power players and politics in the church. I am sick of so called "accountability" (which is often nothing more than the "will to power" over another). Admittedly I do not like authoritarian authorities. I understand the need for accountability but accountability is not code for dehumanizing another and dissecting their every move. I like being trusted and given freedom to do what I feel called to do. I thrive on being creative, a visionary and seeing a "missional code" in a given community.
Last week I was talking with a local pastor and sharing my heart with him. He said "oh yeah, I've been reading a lot about the emergent church". That one statement set off so many lightbulbs. Yes, I am planting an emergent church. It is not something we are doing it is who I am. I don't know why it took me so long. I have been indoctrinated with postmodernism and the emergent church for the past five years. I have held these beliefs long before I knew any terminology or models. But, understanding this movement has put words to my thoughts and legitimized what I had been feeling.
The emergent church is more than I can explain in this little post. But, some common themes is that it is relational, a journey, leadership is from the bottom to the top, experiential, and missional. I am beginning to come out of this fog and find my footing. I have wondered if I would grow into this role or if I would look for a new position in a few months. The only thing I can say is that I am on a journey :) I don't have to have it all figured out. I see God moving and growing me up. I see people being drawn to him through this ministry. Our bills are being paid on time and we have food to eat. But, I also wonder if this area is open to a ministry that is so far out of the box as where I want to go. I feel that in some ways I outgrew my last position and was ready to move on. Now, I am trying to plant my roots and it feels like every breeze could knock me over and destroy me.
If you have read this far you must not have much else going on because I feel there is a lot of randomness in this post. Thank you for your time. I will continue thinking out loud (Thank you, Chris (my brother from another mother), for your vulnerability and giving me courage to stretch myself).