About a week ago, I attended a panel presentation/discussion on church planting. Actually... I've been attending this fellowship of local ministry people called QueensConnexus that is trying to create a community from which to plant churches in Queens; I've been joining their meetings for a few months now. I was always weary of joining such groups because I've never seen myself as a planter (if you're wondering, I still don't) and I've never been that comfortable around really driven entrepreneur-types, especially in the church!
As a rule, I'm weary of authority. I'm weary of being used for someone else's personal agenda or to build someone's platform. As someone who has been in church plants for roughly two decades, I've felt this acutely over the years, been hurt by those in authority over the years, and have many damaged relationships as a result (For the record, I've generally had positive experiences in church; I'm merely acknowledging that the church plant experience is a mixed bag). Thus, I am cautious around ambitious people. But I've also come to realize that I have a kind of ambition as well.
Maybe it's the regular exposure to some driven ministry people (which in some ways is good for me as a foil to my usual complacent attitudes) at Queens Connexus, or maybe it's some form of mid-life crisis (I don't think? but could be!) I've actually entertained the idea of planting. It makes me very uneasy inside. Very uneasy. But with regular prompting to think about it, I do give it real consideration. Each time it ends with, "Nope!" but the thought exercise itself reveals my inner ambitions and idols.
Right now the biggest one is that of control. I am quick to judge; quick to evaluate systems and processes. That is probably the most alluring aspect of church planting to me at the moment: to be able to start from scratch and work at building a church community to my own specs. This needs to die.
Some part of me is tempted by a foolish internal monologue saying things like, "If a church you shape adapts [this practice or discipline], it'll be a better." Even if there's truth to it, it feeds an ego that wants to be God. That ego tries to hide behind statements like, "I don't need to be in the spotlight. I don't need to be seen. See! I'm not proud or ambitious. Look how selfless I am! Good things are happening and I'm not even known." But deep inside, there is a face that grins and says, "But I'm in control. Even if no one knows about me, I know I did it." This needs to die.
I still don't plan on planting. This hidden part of me that would emerge in a new church plant makes me weary of myself even as I'm in a younger church now. This is just one thought on the church planting enterprise I see all around me in the circles I'm in. More where this came from! Ask me if I would plant now, my answer is still, "Nope!"