When Dr. Raigan Miskelly first approached me about being a “church planter,” I thought to myself: me?
To be clear, its not as if I have never thought about it before. Over the years of faithfully serving Christ (and the UMC) I’ve often mused that if I could take the best parts and people of the two appointments I’ve served and merge them in to one dream church, where the sky is the limit, what would that church look like.
In just a few words, it would be . . .
Fear is the opposite of faith. People who are unafraid have a deep reservoir of faith. This means that faith and courage are indelibly bound as a single polarity that produces the spiritual and emotional energy to go . . . beyond. Beyond what? Conventional norms, status quos, the inner compulsion of the self to remain still, silent, and safe. Unafraid people unapologetically create movements that change lives, families, and entire communities.
Enter a mild-mannered MIT student named Tom Scholz who would go on to a successful engineering job at Polaroid in Waterton Massachusetts. As a fan of the British music scene, Scholz became interested in merging his musical and engineering skills. Unable to find the sound he was looking for in conventional music studios, Scholz decided to build his own studio in the basement of his apartment. Through the process he learned everything he could about sound engineering and the way the brain translates music as heard through the ear.
After a few years of working on this project at night while continuing his day job at Polaroid, the result was the song demos that would quickly become part of the band Boston’s first self-titled debut album, (including the single “More Than a Feeling”). The album went on to become the highest selling debut album of any band in history. Do you see? Different lenses create different results. I believe this to be a trait that Jesus possessed.
I love creative people. There is a kind of energy and vibe they give off that is infectious. Creative people see the world through a totally different set of lenses. In fact, they are adept at changing glasses as circumstances dictate. Think of the most successful people that come to mind, and I can guarantee that they are unafraid, and have a deep sense of creativity.
Here is a great example. I am a HUGE music buff. For me a day without music is a day without light. It is my “go-to” for escape. You may have heard of a band called “Boston.” In September of 1976 they released a song called “More than a Feeling.” There is a line from the song that goes: “. . .when I’m tired and thinking cold, I hide in my music, forget the day . . .”
That’s me. Music is my hiding place.
There is enough hate in the world. There is enough compromise with the power structures of the world who seek to keep us afraid and divided. It’s always been that way, and always will be until Jesus returns. But despite that truth, every human being deserves to be loved. And I don’t mean just loved, but radically and provocatively loved. Jesus models this type of love from the cross.
So, who cares that people are black, white, brown or rainbow colored. Who cares about who’s rich or who’s poor. Why be afraid of people who are different. I’m likely as foreign to that person I view as being different as they are to me. Our differences are gifts of varying perspectives, ideas, and realities. It is love that unites us as one.
Everyone Plays a Part
Along those lines, don’t forget what Paul said to the Corinthians in his first letter to that church:
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
The short version? Each body part serves a purpose, and no one part is any more or less than the sum-total of the body.
The Ideal Church
So, as I think about this ideal church it suddenly occurs to me . . .
I’m already there, with you, the people of NAUMC! And now? The people of LaMission! What a gift God has bestowed on us! I get excited when I think about the possibilities of what is to come. This is more than a feeling; it’s a reality of significant proportions. I’m sure Tom Scholz faced lots of challenges as he did the arduous work of learning about sound equipment, piecing it together, recording, and trying to publish his music. In fact, Scholz didn’t quit his “day job” until Boston’s first album climbed up the Billboard chart.
Of course, we will have our challenges. But what an opportunity! In our very first meeting we said we wanted to be a model of what the church is supposed to be. I think we are well on our way. Unafraid . . . Creative . . . Loving! Thank you Jesus for showing what this church can (and will) be!