Today I am off to speak to the Seventh Day Adventist Church Planters School – sharing the story of what we are doing here in Brighton.
Having heard a number of people share stories of their adventures with churches both established and newly planted, I have been really disturbed by how easy it is to ‘not let the truth get in the way of a good story’. A good communicator can spin a yarn that makes himself sound like the Apostle Paul re-incarnated. And yet reality is often quite different from the public story.
The tension occurs because nothing is ever ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’.
People ask me ‘How are things in Brighton?’ And now I just draw an imaginary normal curve.
‘Some is great, some is good, some is ok and some is difficult. It just depends which day you get me on as to what I am focussing on!’
In preparing for today I reflected on my own journey over the last 6 years or so as I moved from a team leader role in a church of 400 or so, to starting over as a missionary in a new place. I prepared a summary description of what had happened in each year and what the accompanying feeling was.
Here is 6 years of summary:
(As you read be aware that this is the ‘public information’ version and does not tell the whole story either. Thats because this is not my story only. This is just the bit I think it is fair to put in the public domain and that we would all agree on)
Pre- 2001: Team Leader at Lemurdie Baptist Church
Feeling = Dissatisfaction – why are we so poorly connected with our community? Why don’t I have time for people outside the church? Why am I embarrassed about what church looks like?
* God was at work preparing people for this
2002: January-Feb specific sense of calling to move on – bought land in Brighton and finished year at LBC as team leader
Feeling = Anticipation – This is the start of a wild new adventure. Yeeeha!
* Churches don’t always mean what they say!
* Drive slowly thru the fog
* Clarify expectations
2003: In transition – 6 months of long service leave – moved into Brighton in Sep
Feeling = Enthusiasm – Energy high and ready to roll
* Initiative initiative initiative
* Prayer prayer prayer
* 18 months lead is both too long and just right
2004: First year of having a whole team in Brighton – developing team and living in community
Feeling = Frustration – The team was not gelling well at all.
* Lead strong – fight for the DNA now
* We may be on the same page but not the same line on that page!
* Some won’t get into it and will leave – that’s ok
2005: Sorting out issues and bringing clarity of shared expectations
Feeling = Determination – ok so its harder than I thought to lead a missionary team – lets dig in
* You can (and must) confront and resolve issues
* Importance of balancing mission and meeting
* Foundations are not impressive, but they are essential
2006: Common dreams, increased buy in and relational development in team
Feeling = Hope – we might just make it after all…
* It just takes time”
* We are programmed to program
* Seamless living – if you leave me can I come too