Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Much has happened since my last post in February. We here in the city were teased with beautiful weather at the end of February only to be confronted by the harsh realities of snow and sleet just a week ago. Ugh! John Kerry wrapped up the Democratic bid for the presidency (ABB!). The steroid scandal in baseball is slowly but surely being unveiled. And finally, my Yankees have acquired the most potent team (pun intended) in baseball history. It remains to be seen whether this All-Star, Hall of Fame bound team can bring home the trophy in November. Stay tuned!

Concerning the church plant much has happened since my last post as well. Laura, Sophia and I spent four intense days in mid-February with the Redeemer Church Planting Center. We spent these days being assessed by Redeemer's well trained staff. They were assessing our church planting skills. It was a stressful environment as everything said was analyzed and scrutinized by the assessors. We, along with 4 other couples and a single guy, participated in role-plays, case studies, preached sermons and talked about our call to church planting in New York City. At the end of the four days a final assessment was given that included a rating. NR = Not Recommended to plant a church (the lowest) and Q2 = Strongly Qualified to plant a church immediately (the highest). In between this low rating and this high rating are four other (NRAT, PQ1, PQ2, Q1) possible ratings. It was stressful to know that what you desired was the Q2 but what was likely was some other rating. We were told beforehand that very few were rated a Q2. For some, like me, it was stressful because we had already made major moves (physically, emotionally, etc.) to plant a church. I was afraid that I would get the NR or NRAT rating. It was evident at several times that I was not doing well. In my evangelism exercise I did poorly. There were certain case studies and role-plays I felt good about but others I felt uncomfortable. It was a weird four days.

In the end Laura and I were rated as PQ2, highly provisionally qualified. In other words, they think I would make a good church planter but need to work on some things before it actually happens. According to their assessment I need to work on my preaching. It, my preaching, speaks to insiders and/or believers. It needs to, in their opinion, speak to outsiders/non-believers too. I agree and agree with their assessment. I have no problem with this. Their second critique was about my evangelism. They wanted to see me do a certain thing in my role-play and when I didn’t, graded me harshly on my evangelism. I don’t disagree that I need to work on my evangelism but I do disagree that it should look and sound a certain way. Evangelism, in my experience, is multi-faceted. Finally, they said I need to be more cultural and know NYC better. I’m not sure where they pulled this critique out of being that they never asked about or probed my cultural awareness. Their suggestions were to see Broadway plays and read NYC periodicals. Wow. If it weren’t for the overall good experience, this critique and the suggestions made about it would have blown their credibility out of the water. Like I said, it was a good overall experience and we walked away pleased with our assessment and rating.

Laura and I took advantage of my mom being here a week ago and spent the afternoon on our own without Sophia. We went downtown where Laura said, “I like the pace of life down here. It’s much slower and less crowded.” I think we will really love living there. We also discovered a mall on Pier 17. A MALL! It felt like suburbia. Weird, huh? I really look forward to moving there this summer (2004) and planting the church.

The issues I’ve been thinking about lately are fourfold:
1) Teammates, teammates, teammates. I need ‘em.
2) A core team of members. “Who will join in the crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?” – Les Mis
3) Worship. What should we be about? Do we need to be like these Southern Baptist churches who are “purpose driven churches” who offer great music, great presentations, etc.? They are growing like wildflowers! Or should we offer something different altogether? Hmm….
4) I need to get together the vision of this church plant and it needs to happen fast. I have to get my act together.

Lord, may all this be in your hands. Thank you for the passion you keep growing inside me. Thank you for the love you continue to build up inside me for NYC and the downtown area. Please continue to grow it. Lord, this will all happen if there is less of me and more of you. Forgive me my selfishness and pride. In Jesus name, Amen.