Two significant events happened this past week. On Thursday, 9.25, I went to an Alliance Meeting with other church planters at the Redeemer Church Planting Center. On Friday, 9.26, Brandon, who works at the NYSE, took me on a tour of the NYSE. This is what I wrote after attending that church planting meeting on Thursday:
(ACTUAL DATE THIS WAS WRITTEN: 9.29.03)
This morning I went to a church planting seminar put on by Redeemer Pres here in NYC. They have done incredible work and are church planting fools! Sitting in the room this morning were 20 church planters. We were all there to soak up any bits of wisdom the trainers/teachers might have to offer. It was a great seminar and I'll go to it once a month from now until May.
I was the only one in the room who hadn't already planted a church. Some in the room were a couple of years into their church plant, some a year and some just a few months. But again, I was the only one in the room who hadn't already planted a church. The teacher was excited that my sponsoring church (Manhattan Church of Christ) was allowing me to be here so early before we actually open the church plant doors on a Sunday. None of the others in the room were so fortunate. So on the one hand, I sat in that room and felt pretty good that God was allowing me this preparation time. Yeah, maybe I don't know much, but God is already teaching me much! I just need to keep soaking it all up! But on the other hand, I sat in that seminar and felt totally inadequate to fulfill this dream of Manhattan Church of Christ's to plant a church. Who am I? I know nothing about planting churches and furthermore, I'm not a natural evangelist in the traditional sense of that word! I was surrounded by men and women already in the trenches doing the work I can foresee myself doing in 15 months. Even though they looked tired and beat up, they were overjoyed to be in the room and looked like natural church planters. (I’m not sure I can explain what the look of a “natural church planter” is but they do have this look about them.) And as if I wasn’t feeling inadequate enough, they gave us the assignment to write out a vision statement for the Oct. session.
When I get asked to share my vision of the church plant I get a little uneasy and a little squirmy. Why is that? Why do I get so uneasy? I now know the answer.
I am afraid. Yes, that’s it, I am afraid! I am afraid to admit that I’m not exactly sure what the vision is yet. It has yet to be revealed. I am afraid to admit that I’m not exactly sure how it will all work out and how it will all come together because I want so badly to impress folks and hope that everything will work out great. I am afraid to start speaking about a vision that seems like “something” when in reality I’ve said nothing at all. In fact, if I’m truly honest, I’ve been afraid ever since I agreed to come here and plant a church. I’m just now realizing that fear has dictated most of my thoughts recently. In some ways it is good to fear but this fear has been overwhelming and unhealthy. I need to realize that I’m here for a reason and that God called me to this place. I need to give this fear of inadequacy over to the Lord and allow him to make my weakness, my strength.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that I’m not exactly sure what this thing will look like. I’m saying that I’m not exactly sure how it will happen and I have yet to stamp a fancy vision statement onto this church plant (although I better have something for my teacher by Oct. ;)).
I’ve had time to process this writing over the weekend and I’m glad God is so gracious in dealing with me. I’m admitting to everyone I know that I’m scared and full of fear hoping to solicit their prayers and thoughts. My confession has been well received. I’m thankful, too, for gracious brothers and sisters in Christ.
God is humbling me and making me aware of my need for him. The above confession concerning my fear has brought me to my knees and has made me realize that I can’t do this! It must be him!
Lord, forgive me of my pride and my selfishness. I give this fear over to you and ask that you take this weakness and make it your strength!
I took the tour of the NYSE on Friday and it was amazing. I first went to lunch with Brandon as the NYSE was busy with the arrival and visit of President Putin of Russia. Brandon and his co-workers were even asked to keep at a distance. I was hoping to eat in the NYSE cafeteria to get a feel for those who work there but got a feel for the area as we ate at a sandwich shop. Brandon and I were wearing nice suits but beside us sat a construction worker and on the other side of us was a mother and baby and at another table were young college aged looking kids. (I call them kids but I’m not much older than them, yeah right.) As usual, NYC is showing its diversity at this sandwich shop. Even the downtown area can’t be characterized as a bunch of “suits” who make big money. Diversity seems to be the rule of thumb for NYC.
At lunch, Brandon recounted several of the 9.11 moments he remembered. It was amazing to hear him share some of the thoughts that went through his head at the moment that all happened. What is even more amazing is his, and those who work with him, resolve to stay in the downtown area and continue on with life no matter what. I’m sure there were some who left the downtown area after 9.11 and have never stepped foot in that area again but many have a resolve like you wouldn’t believe.
Lunch ended and Brandon took me over to the NYSE. It was quite a maze going through all the security. We finally made it in and he took me to the NYSE floors. You know, the floors where all the trading takes place and the bell is rung every morning and finds its way into movies? Yeah, that floor. It was amazing! Actually, someone who had more knowledge of how the financial world works would be more amazed than me but still, I was in awe.
I still have much to learn about the financial world. Much of the world looks down upon the financial world as being a bunch of greedy folk or an “old boy’s club” who don’t have any regard for others. To some extent that is right but as I walked with Brandon, a Christian, through the NYSE, I recognized that those guys were in need of Christ too. All to often we blow those kind of folks off because we think, “they is no way they will buy into Christianity.”
Maybe they won’t but we won’t know until we give it a shot.
Lord, may you be with those who wear suits everyday and work in the financial district and think they have all they need but find they are searching for more. May they hear the calling within their hearts. May they come to know Jesus Christ. Amen