The church planter looked down breaking eye contact, I think, to slightly shield revealing the pain in his heart. He and his wife have put themselves passionately, prayerfully and consistently into birthing a church.
And not just any church but a family of diverse ethnicities. And not just mulit-ethnic but reflecting a broad spectrum of socioeconomic levels of the urban transitional community where the people live. I picture a cross. This church is at the center of being a reconciling gathering horizontally (diverse peoples) but also vertically (economic levels).
Most churches I work with, even in very diverse communities, are more like a small circle than this cross effort. A small circle where economically and racially everyone looks pretty much alike. What this leader and his wife have been attempting is much more like ministry often pictured outside their passport country where one is required to learn language, cultures and especially values and expectations very different from their own. And these same elements are also very diverse right in the community. Just go stand in the grocery store and watch people struggling to understand and navigate when one can hear five different languages competing.
So why is the church plant at such a fragile place right now? The planter feels it is probably a combination of his failure to motivate and call out a commitment from the core that have gathered around the vision, and a lack of commitment by the core. Most of them, an ethnically diverse group, have enjoyed studying biblical themes of reconciliation and unity. They have enjoyed learning to appreciate the diversity God had brought together. They liked the idea of a church demonstrating the radical love of God. BUT (don’t you hate it when there is a ‘but’ in the paragraph), they have failed to step up to pay the price of actually becoming an incarnational witness in the community. The price is too high, competing with other legitimate values of — for example, finishing a graduate degree, getting a job, concern for the quality of schools for their children, resulting in a lack of margins because life is just too full. They are tackling a work often attempted by full time cross cultural workers with a less than part time offering. After all most middle class North American church volunteer leaders can do what is expected in ten hours or less a week (and that includes 3 or more hours just receiving services the paid staff shoulder).
The vision and calling for this urban work simply exact a higher price.
So what will happen? Well you pray… a lot… and keep doing what you can do and what you can challenge others to join you in doing and see what happens. You trust God is bearing fruit in individual hearts whether the picture of a church that is in the heart of the leader and his wife ever blossoms into reality. You seek to simply obey God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leave the results to God.
What do you think? What is God’s perspective?