When you start a journey, it’s always exciting.
The first few steps of a run, the first few miles of a road trip… there’s always a sense of wonder and expectation.
The same is true of the journey to plant a church.
It started with good dreams: helping people find a meaningful relationship with Jesus, seeing broken families healed and the lost being found.
I neglected to understand this important fact: to see all that happens we would have to gather a bunch of sinners together, build relationships with them, and watch Jesus move in their lives… since we are practically incapable of doing any of that in their lives!
I didn’t expect to get hurt when we started out on this journey, but planting a church is a journey filled with pain.
Here are a few observations on how it hurts…
#1 – Hurt people hurt people.
At a new church, you get a lot of “one more chance” people. These are people who have been hurt at other churches (often for very legitimate reasons), and they are willing to give a brand new church “one more chance”.
The church seems “different”, and at first that’s exciting. It’s not uncommon for the newness to provoke a new level of involvement and renewed communion with Jesus.
That newfound devotion also does something I didn’t anticipate… it opens them up to the past hurt from other church experiences.
At this point, these people have two choices: to deal with the past pain or they will inevitably start to displace the past hurt into their present context.
When they don’t deal with the past hurt, they’ll start to find reasons to be hurt at the new church, and when they’re hurt… they’ll hurt other people.
#2 – People don’t care as much about your feelings as they do about their opinions.
Culturally we’ve shifted how we approach those in authority.
Years ago Teachers, Coaches, Pastors, and Police Officers garnered an immense level of respect. You treated them well. You honored them. Not because they were perfect, but because of the honor of the position they held.
This is not the case in our present context.
Sadly, we live in a cultural context that seems to always be working hard to second guess those in positions of authority. This isn’t a simple truth, but it is the context we find ourselves in.
In our current context, those with informed and arbitrary opinions have platforms to spread their opinions without thought to the feelings of the people they are criticizing.
It’s a part modern-day leadership, but it is still painful.
#3 – Healthy always hurts.
One of the guys I work out with is somewhat of a freak. While in his mid-50s, he’s in incredible shape (essentially competition shape).
I remember working out with him one time and making this comment,
“Dude, I can’t wait to get to where I’m not sore anymore.” He replied, “Man, I’ve been sore for the last 30 years.”
That moment I learned something that continues to stay with me, and it’s a very uncomfortable truth…
Healthy always hurts.
During the process of planting Vortex, I’ve had to make decisions I didn’t want to because they were hard. They included having hard conversations with leaders, disciplining those in leadership for poor decisions, and even letting some people off the bus.
Those moments hurt deeply. Those moments also lead to health.
You cannot avoid pain, and if you attempt to avoid it… you’ll avoid being healthy.
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How has pain produced a healthier relationship with Jesus in your life?