Wendy and I have some big changes coming. To understand what we are headed, you need to understand where we have come from.
Putting Together the Crew
I could go into detail about what Hirsch wrote and how it effected us; but why, when you can just go read it yourself (just read the intro on Attractional Church and you will question everything you have ever done in church world…I did). So we will skip that step in the story.
After being affirmed by Bryan Doyle and having our butts kicked by Hirsch, we set our hearts on action. There were a few things we were certain of:
We knew things had to change about how we were living as the church. It was time for something different. Maintaining the status quo was no longer an option. Inspired by Doyle and Hirsch’s influence we planned to center the new around intentionally imitating the character of Christ. Our rough plan was to develope some core principles which would push us to live like Jesus and then live those our in the community. Simple right?
We knew that we couldn’t wait for someone else to make the changes. While we knew that God was probably calling a thousand people in the same way He was us, we were also sure that we could not sit in comfort and let them emerge before we jumped in. There was an urgency in our hearts. God was clearly saying, “Now.”
We knew this would cost us everything. The calling was to start with a clean slate, to erase our understanding of what it meant to be the church and start fresh. That wouldn’t have been so intimidating if my very identity wasn’t wrapped into the institution of church. God wasn’t just asking us for philosophic change. He was demanding we sacrifice everything: neighborhood, career, friends, our small group of 3+ years, our efforts in the community, all our comfort, and all our security. The crazy thing is, we didn’t even blink. I remember one night as Wendy and I talked coming to the revelation, “If we are going to start from scratch, that means no staff…which means no job.” And still, we had no hesitation. “Cool. No church job,” I thought. “I better get started on a resume then.”
We knew we had to leave no negative impact or hole at Streetlite. As much as possible, everything I did needed to be picked up by others before we left. We also decided we would refuse to be negative, that we would embrace the amazing influence they had on us, and that we would give them credit for leading us to where we were.
Finally, we knew we couldn’t do it alone. I’d like to say that picking the crew to ask to join us was tough, that we agonized over it until finally light lighting struck a rock and carved names on it detailing who should come with us; but that is not how it went down. We immediately eliminated anyone that was in leadership in our existing congregation. We put them on a do not touch list (which was hard because I spent a lot of time with those incredible leaders and loved them dearly…but we wanted to have no negative impact so it was necessary). We knew we wanted our best friends to come with us, so we asked them. Our sister-from-another-mother that had lived with us for years was also a given. And then there was a couple that was already doing it; jumping in with them seemed like common sense. Nothing spectacular.
I remember our first meeting. I was incredibly nervous. Fears ran wild in my mind, “What if this was all a big mistake? What if this is just a phase I’m going to come out of in a few months? What if we are wrong?” and the biggest one, “What if they say, ‘No!’? What then?” As we sat in Mike D’s living room we asked the crew for a five year commitment to each other (Bryan Doyle’s suggestion…thank you again Bryan!). We had no structure for them to join. We had no idea where all of it would lead. Everything was undefined. All we had were a bunch of wild ideas and a lot of passion.
Until that meeting I was plagued by doubts. Was leaving professional ministry and the attractional church (the team) a big mistake? I didn’t share this with anyone. I was affraid that if I spoke it out loud I would find out all my fears were right.
But that night, as we sat and talked all my fears melted away. Looking in the faces of the crew I knew, that was it. Even if in five years it was still just the seven of us sitting around that table, I wouldn’t care. It was right. That was where God had called us. That was exactly where we were supposed to be.