I hear the voices and I hear the questions. Is this guy crazy? Has he gone over the edge? Some background; my family and a team of other crazies have gone for broke to plant a missional church in the heart of the city of Syracuse. We see the world through unique eyes – seeing visions of a community that could be, when most people look and see nothing. Church planters, in my experience, straddle that fine line between being legitimately crazy and unequivocally called by God. Craziness and calledness often times look remarkably similar. Whenever I meet or hear of a new church planter, my first response is to question whether or not they are crazy or called. And as I continue to follow Jesus down this road, I am beginning to realize that people now must be thinking the same thing of me, “Is this guy crazy? Or is God actually up to something out there in Syracuse?
I don’t know if it will make anyone feel any better, but I’m asking the same question of myself pretty regularly. I know that church plants are failing at an alarming rate – over 80%. For every success story, there are many more stories of failure that will cause you to lose sleep at night. Even the success stories can be frightening! It’s amazing what people have to go through and sacrifice in order to birth a vibrant Christian community. Knowing these things takes away the ’sex appeal’ of church planting pretty quickly and forces you to take honest inventory of the questions, “Am I called? or Am I crazy?” “Am I equipped or Am I arrogant?” And quite honestly the only answer I can come up with is that I think I’m crazy enough to respond to the calling.
On top of taking the plunge to plant a church in the middle of one the least Christian cities in the country, we’ve also decided to birth it quite differently. We are opting out of modern church growth strategies of marketing campaigns, critical mass methods, production oriented worship services and appeals to people already enamored with churchy stuff. True to what God has been doing deep within me for years, we are forging our church through some very odd means and even to some, odd theology. But we have faith.
For a couple of years, I’ve held off taking the plunge because there was no way I would ever believe that God was calling me. The looming potential of failure can quite possibly make me pee my pants. But I have since come to grips with the fact that God’s economy is a bit different from mine. Success will not be found in how fast and furious we grow numerically or whether we gain credibility amongst the Christian community. Success is found in an obedient heart and adaptability to God’s vision. So this whole thing is a Divine experiment in obedience and adaptability for me. You may think I’m crazy, but I think I’m getting used to it.