Two or Three Things
I know when I started this blog I said that each week I was going to talk to about three things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to our church plant, but this week there’s really only two things I want to write about. And since it’s my blog I can change the rules whenever I want, so here we are, with two things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to church planting.
Is it Possible to be Authentic?
This week I asked this question on our Facebook page- “When you imagine the church at it’s best what sort of things do you think of?” Shout out to everyone who responded, we really value your input (also it’s not too late to respond). One theme that came through in almost every answer was authenticity. I love the idea of being authentic, of being real with people, not having to hide myself. I think most churches would hold authenticity as a core value, I’m sure most pastors have preached a sermon on taking off your mask and being real with each other and with God. I think deep down in our heart we’re all looking for those relationships where we can be open, honest and real.
The problem is, I believe there’s a big difference between holding authenticity as a value and creating environments where people can be authentic. Real authentic relationships need trust, they have to be able to hold the tension of differing thoughts and opinions. They don’t hide hurt and suffering, and they don’t hide success and happiness. Authenticity can’t be directed, it must be earned.
Here’s why I think this is hard to achieve in church.
Those that call themselves Christians follow Jesus, who says he is the way the truth and the life. We’re looking for churches who teach biblical truth. We believe we are holders of truth and teachers of truth but…. we don’t all agree on what truth is. I mean, most of us agree that Jesus is the son of God, he died and rose again and has made a way for us to be part of Gods family and his kingdom. But after that, the church holds all sorts of different opinions on biblical truth. If I’m really honest (and authentic) with you, 2020 Simon often doesn’t agree with 1997 Simon, 2005 Simon or 2017 Simon. Here lies a lot of the problem, people grow and mature and with that comes new knowledge and understanding. We’re all in the process of understanding God and the bible and trying to reconcile our own experiences with what we read and what we’re taught. The moment someone feels like their thoughts and opinions will be judged, they will most likely feel that they can’t be authentic.
Am I advocating for an elimination of truth, or to hold to many truths? No, what I hope is that a church where people feel safe to be authentic also builds relationships and trust. That we could discern together what God is saying to us through the bible, through teaching and through our own experiences. I hope that together we learn and grow. That we’re humble enough to not assume we have all the answers, real enough to say that we don’t, and diligent in the way we ask questions of theologians, Christians leaders and Church History. I hope that we could create spaces to disagree well and with safety to not be judged. That we see truth as something we are pursuing together.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that authenticity takes a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.
Are We All Dealing with Grief?
I’m writing this on the day that Chadwick Boseman passed away, and I found it hit me really hard. Of course I didn’t know him (although I’m a big fan of T’Challa the Black Panther) but his death took my surprise, another reminder of the fragility of life. These reminders are all too frequent at the moment, we’re all experiencing loss in some way right now. Some of that loss may feel small and insignificant in comparison to what other people may be going through, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I shouldn’t have been surprised that today’s news affected me with loss and suffering being so prevalent in the midst of the current pandemic. Grief is often present in our collective experience.
As we begin to share about the church we dream of, you might pick up that we hope it’s a community where people who have been hurt or frustrated by past church experiences might feel safe to belong. Of course, we would love for people to join us who are on a journey of discovery that leads them to Jesus, and for Christians who have a heart for what we are doing to join us too. As people join us in this church planting journey, we need to recognise that each person will hold their own grief- the pain of loss or broken relationships, dreams that have died, hopes left unfulfilled and so much more.
I’m not an expert on grief but I know we can’t ignore it. One thing we believe God has spoken over the church are planting is that it will be a place of healing. A place where we can recognise what we may have lost, be honest with our grief, and process it together in healthy ways. If this resonates with you we’d love for you to reach out to us.