The journey and process of starting a new church often feels like a maze. I know the end destination but there is no clear or easy way to get there. Most days I wonder if we at Second Chance are making a difference and if so, how do we keep moving forward to get the prize at the end of the maze. While many of my colleagues are celebrating church anniversaries and the moments of clarity when their congregation finally gets “it”, I have to search carefully for those moments that make it all make sense.
Recently I met with one of my clergy mentors and friends Mark at a time when things were moving very slowly for us as a church. Although we have an amazing launch team and a plan of what we want to happen, everything was put on hold as doors kept closing for funding sources, using space and moving into the next phase. Mark then asked me a really simple question, one he had asked of me several times; why are you starting a new church. This time my answer was different. It didn’t have nice theological language or a commitment to a denomination. My answer was rooted in my own story of I found by finding Jesus. I knew what it was like to have nothing and be lost. I knew what it was like to have so many questions about Church, faith and God but no place to ask it that didn’t tell me because the Bible said so. I knew what it was like to struggle and not care. As simple as the answer was, it was all because I had a relationship and connection to the one we call the Christ. I want others to know that same kind of love and grace and safe place. I want others to have a second chance regardless of how many tattoos they have or who they love. And sadly, too many churches don’t embody this kind of gospel. This is why I am starting a new church.
We sat in silence for a moment, me feeling like it was the dumbest answer I had ever given. And then Mark said it was the best sales pitch I’ve ever given. This is what has to become the story I tell as I look for new disciples and form new relationships. It took me being ready to quit to be able to finally tell people why I was starting a new church. Yes there are still challenges, and no I don’t have the answers or know how to get out this new church maze. But I at least have clarity over why I do what I do and a few people that believe in me.