Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Been feeling a bit lonely lately. Been looking at what my life has looked like since jumping off of the "traditional church" ship back in '99 and there has been a common theme.....this twinge of loneliness. I was told it would be like this. I was told to hold on while this roller coaster slammed me through the good/bad, the successes/failures and that the movement between the two extremes would be jarring. Sometimes it just seems that between the two, the turbulence seems the same and who knows what is success and what isn't? I know I'm not the only one daring to do something for God in times like these. Sometimes I'd just like to know that I've connected to others in the same ministerial boat, but for two and one-half years, I still don't feel like I have. I seem to get close the water's edge, but my arm floaties don't measure up to everyone's inflatable dinghies. I've trudged my way through thus far in search of a mentor/friend who could guide me on this journey. However, there are possibilities on the horizon and new friends.

Most of the people in my denomination who are available to me either don't know about us or are skeptical about the kind of animal we are grooming here, so the attention is patronizing or absent altogether. I was supposed to find my own mentor when I landed on field, according to my denominational superiors. How do you do that when: 1) you know next to no one; 2) 80% of the churches in your association either have no idea you are here or are diametrically opposed to your mere presence and are plateaued or declining. From within and around our association, I've tried and seen the formation of groups of somewhat like-minded church planters and seen them fall down. I've entertained the conversations that point to nothing more than lofty, yet empty aspirations to create relational accountability. Then, poof........

I intuitively sense what the problem is and it's no one's fault. Everyone is just relationally maxed out. Everyone already has their inner circle and can only maintain so many relationships at one time. How hard it is for a stranger to infiltrate an established accountability network of good buddies. That's just the reality of being an unknown, yet forging ahead in relative obscurity does get wearisome. Have I missed something/someone along the way? Why does it seem like the very ones I could learn from the most- those who have been down this road a lot longer than I- can't slow down to pick up a vagabond? I know it's not their intention but it still feels lonely. Why is it no one has taught me how to reach out?

Perhaps I am a bit presumptuous. Mentorships and mutually accountable friendships and discipling networks don't happen spontaneously. I know what I see and sometimes envy in others is the product of much relational time and investment. Am I even willing to scrutinize my own woundedness here? What is it about church planting that taps into the fountains of loneliness so easily? Why do I need to be needed? Sometimes all it seems to be about is giving. There are some things I need to receive too but there just isn't a whole lot out there right now. I just don't want to be like the Voyager Probe of Church Planters, drifting further away while still beaming out fainter and fainter signals.

For you, my 5 faithful MunkeBites readers...........a glimspe into the foolishness of church planting from my vantage point.