Uncomfortably Comfortable Comfort
All church planters and missionaries dread the break up text or email.
Subject: Can we grab coffee this week?
It’s rarely the case that a simple request for some artisan espresso or the casual invitation to sample the finest craft beer Chattanooga has to offer ends well for me. Typically, when I receive a text or email like the ones above it means that a key member is leaving the church and letting me down easy with an Ethiopian Pour-Over or Red IPA.
As a pastor people leaving the church is a tough pill to swallow - especially if you’re small and your survival depends rests with a few really dedicated members. It’s one of the inevitable realities of starting something from scratch. The scaffolding that made it possible for the structure to be built eventually goes away and moves on to another project. It happens. It is disheartening but eventual. It doesn’t make it any more palatable.
Tis this season - not for Christmas. Right now, at Bridge City t’s the season for the wonderful, beautiful, inextricable, scaffolding of BCC to begin coming down. I’ve received a few breakup texts and emails over the last month or so and each subsequent conversation has sucked. Any church planter or missionary who says otherwise is demonstrating a necessary humility we all must have when sending people off well and loved. It will be a tough day when the last of our founding members have moved on. However, it is also the sign of growth and movement forward in our urban mission.
I am expecting another break up invitation soon as one of our launch team members is pursuing a career change in another state. Realizing that filling out referral forms for job applications meant she was actually moving on I received the following email from her (abridged of course):
Bridge City Community has profoundly impacted my view of church in a lot of ways. For one, going to BCC is never a 100% comfortable feeling for me on Sunday mornings, but something I never want to miss. What I mean to explain to is how so many Americans flutter around to find a church that fits them best and makes them feel super comfortable. Not that enjoying the company and feeling comfortable is a completely bad thing, but I think I'm learning the value of not being comfortable... or at a place where things always come 'easy.' I guess I'm finding joy in the reminder that church is about Jesus, and not our own personal satisfactions, which change far too often because we're never going to be satisfied without Him. I mean, sure, try out the newest addition on the salsa shelf when the old kind tastes bland, but for some things in life--like worship and fellowship--our goal shouldn't constantly be a striving for what we get out of it (referenced from the article, “Chipotle Church & the Problem of Choice”).
Wasn’t expecting that one… You have to understand, this young woman is quiet, sincere in her faith, and firm in her commitment to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. Although she doesn’t speak out often I have always known her to have a clear understanding of the mission of Bridge City made possible only by her profound faith - as you can tell by the comment itself. She gets it. I mean, she really gets it. Not only does she understand but she vocalized an experience unique to BCC: uncomfortably comfortable comfort.
I can’t explain it, but she put her finger on it.
The Christian life should bring us discomfort. Jesus was an uncomfortable dude to be around - he said some crazy stuff. Yet, his disciples found great comfort in following him. The disciples were uncomfortably comfortable heeding the call to “Follow me.”
She is. I am. Are you?