I've heard Craig Groeschel say two incredible things about church planting that he was told by his mentor. 1) You will overestimate what you can accomplish in the short-term while underestimating what you can accomlish in the long term 2) God WILL break you!!!
I've found both of these to be dead-on. God has been breaking my pride into tiny little pieces, over and over. But he's also been showing me the amazing things he wants to do through this church. The longer we're at this church thing, the more results we're seeing.
One of the best things going at TF, as anyone remotely familiar with our church knows, is our Love Wins ministry. A few posts ago, I shared how I was frustrated about a church-group protesting strip clubs. Well, I sent in an email to Channel 9 to tell them about Love Wins and show them an opposite picture of Christians. I didn't expect much but was very suprised when Dan Weinbauhm, one of the lead reporters for Channel 9 called me to schedule an interview with Erin for the 10:00 news. I was so excited!! I was pumped about the publicity TF was going to receive, even thinking about how glad I was that we'd finally finished our new website, since it was sure to get a ton of hits after the news story.
But my sweet and wise wife was hesitant about the news story. So she called one of the main guys at one of the clubs to get his perspective. His response was a resounding no! He said nothing good, from their side, could come out of a news story on their club. So, the decision was easy, we wouldn't do the story. And while the whole time I'd been excited about how we could present a more Jesus-like picture of Christians through this story, when I emailed Dan Weinbauhm to tell him we weren't going to be able to do the story, I came face-to-face with the deeper motives from my own pride. While the publicity would've been nice, while my DS was going to call the guy who organized the protest and tell him to watch the story, while we may have gotten some big donations from people watching the story, the bottom line is that it would've hurt or destroyed our relationships with the clubs. You see, it isn't about me getting publicity as "super-pastor," it isn't about TF getting publicity as this wonderful church, it's about loving people!!!! That's ultimately what it's all about. If something is self-serving, it can't be loving.
Then the guy from the club talking with Erin went on to tell a lot of great stories about how Love Wins is building credibility within the club. He even told Erin he's read our blogs, so "hi!." This goes to show what can happen over the long-term.
I also realized later why it this story would've hurt the people in the clubs. The story would've been spun as these saintly church ladies loving these evil dancers. Not true at all!!! We're all sinners in need of a loving Savior. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we'll be able to share the love of Jesus.
Later that night, Erin and I read our devotional for the evening. We were both blown away by how timely the passage and reading were. The passage was Philippians 2:5-8. Here is a great line from that day's reading from Dennis Kinlaw's This Day with the Master. "It is surprising what healing and growth can occur in human relationships when we reach the place where we can bow to others and above all bow to Him."
Jesus, keep breaking my pride!