Why me? Why this Church?
Being a part of Empty Church has been an experience like no other. We started out with podcasts and blogs, added a church gathering, and eventually started recording videos. We have worked together to do many things that larger groups struggle to achieve and I must certainly acknowledge the help of God throughout all of it.
In my darkest moments, I can think of every reason why I don't belong. Josh is brilliant in pretty much every way. He is so knowledgeable. He knows how to “be a pastor.” Sarah is so talented with our web design. What most of you don't know is that she's also talented with music. Plus with her recent blog series on teaching children she brings a very important perspective. (Although I do tease her about being a cliché “pastor’s wife” since she sings and can teach children.) Kristal is very interested in the sciences and asks the hard questions. I don’t want to peg her as the “nonbeliever” perspective, though she offers that perspective now, I know that with her background she will always have something to offer even if she “found God.”
Then there’s me…. Yeah, that’s about it. I honestly think that the other three offer anything that I could offer but better. You know the saying about where two people agree one is unnecessary. They need someone that’s a specialist in something else, not me.
How I got there
Perhaps I made a mistake when I went to college and I should have just spent the time working my way up in a company that would take me on. I didn't buy into pastoring as a job or corporate ladder and it just feels like I wasted my time since I didn’t. Sometimes I feel like everyone is waiting for me to stop “playing” church and to just get onboard with “how it’s done.” The implication being that if I can’t or won’t do it how it’s done then I truly did waste my time going to college for this. I even had a well-meaning pastor tell me this in so many words.
I have been told so many things about “callings” that I really don't know what to believe. Should I have the exactly time and place of what I should be doing for God? Is it an “I have called you to preach, Sean” at kid’s camp? Is it saying being presented with several choices from God and doing the one that you choose to do?
What’s even scarier is if I am making a mistake: There is “a church” I care about that I could be a part of and connected with. I don't feel like my place there is totally over, but I don't know what that means. I feel strongly connected with what we are doing here at Empty Church as well.
What led me here
I guess what is in my heart is that I’m making a “long play.” I have a belief about the future and I’m trying to do what is necessary to be ready for that change. I see a future in which the current church model is no longer viable. Whether it’s taxes on church buildings, government discrimination, or just the fact that every statistic says that people don't go to church anymore, I have a pessimistic (or realistic) view of what the future might hold. God calls us to tell people about Him and Empty Church is all about that. I really think that we are investing in a language that many churches have not learned to speak.
I think a portion of my struggle is that I don't understand why we have to be so segmented and competitive. We treat churches like they are competing franchises of fast food joints. Mainly because we often count success by the number of buildings, bodies, and bucks. That is still really engrained in me. “Oh you started a church, where do you meet? How many people come?” It’s hard not to say with a little shame that there is 4 of us. I hear stories of pastors being run out of areas that they felt they were supposed to minister in due to church politics. I have a little fear that when it comes time for us to “settle down” in an area we’ll run into the same thing and I certainly do not want to fall into that same kind of thinking.
Starting a church with friends has been great. I remember being at church planting panels where guys said that they planted with friends but it wasn't the way to do it… I never understood that. It’s not the box way to do it, I guess, but I’m not convinced that there is a “way” to do it. We are following the path that seems right. In fact, sometimes, it is almost like there is no another path to take.
So here I am. Potentially making a huge mistake or taking the right steps for a godly future. The guy who doesn't fit. The guy who might be useless. The guy who still pushes on despite the odds. I think that where ever I was serving I would probably feel about the same way. That is why I don't just switch churches or ministries.
I’m here because I believe that Empty Church is going to communicate to people the Gospel and if that was ever actually important to Christianity, then this is something I need to see to the end.
That is why me and why this church.