I am really excited about some conversations I have had with friends, neighbors, business-owners and ministers about this new church start. I have received many new ideas, unique perspectives and thoughtful advice. Because I love hearing stories and recognize the importance of hearing from a variety of perspectives, this has been a very exciting time. It's great to meet new people, to hear words of affirmation and to hear how this new faith community could be an asset to a community; however, I also recognize that those things can also become a distraction from the central mission of church planting.
One of my favorite people in the world used to preface what he would say with the words, "The truth of the matter is...". When he said this, you knew he was about to say something really important, kind of like "here's the bottom line, folks." I've been thinking about the truth of the matter as it relates to my calling to plant a new faith community. As much as I love fostering relationships, the compelling motivation for church planting is not forming a social network (although I believe Jesus did do this). As much as I love hearing stories of pioneering people who are revitalizing a neighborhood, the compelling motivation for church planting is not to affirm the renewal of a community (although I believe that Jesus was all about renewal). To use a line from my former pastor and friend, Dr. Jack Snell, "the truth of the matter" is my desire to participate in helping the gospel take root in people's lives through the formation of grace-filled community. It is my hope that as this faith community takes shape, it will not only help transform a neighborhood, but that it will be committed to making disciples who are passionate about loving and serving God and neighbor.