There’s something different about someone who acts on their deepest desire to impact lives, ultimately leaving them feeling both vulnerable and fulfilled in their own life.
That is the heart of a church planting pastor.
There is a certain level of uncertainty to planting something that is counter-cultural to the current state of society. As an urban church planter, there have been times of great joy and extreme lows. Church planting in any context is difficult because you are trying to introduce people to something that is greater than themselves. In the same breath, church planting is about being the mediator between hurt and hope. It is the ability to be in the midst of the vicissitudes of people’s lives, yet offer the solution to their problems. But at the core of this organization or organism, known as society, is the church planting pastors.
Urban church planting pastors, who are looking out for the proverbial Gotham City known as their communities, live to transform the lives of the people in their cities. In addition to that, there is something that is very telling about being a church planting pastor in the urban environment. As urban church pastors, there is this idea of being used by God that is beautiful in theory but then there is the reality of actually being in the community doing life with folks.
There is a certain level of fear that is part of planting a church for urban pastors. It is not what you might think either. It is not that urban pastors are fearful for their lives or scared to walk down the street in the community where their church lives. But it is fear of failure, the fear of not being able to fulfill the great commission of making disciples.
There is fear in the unknown. Will people show up to bible study? Will someone show up for Sunday service?
It is the fear of not having the budget to get outreach done or evening having enough to pay the monthly rent for facilities.
In the midst of societal race issues, there is the fear of stepping into the center of that tension to be the voice of reason, yet not lose your identity or your “cultural hood card” in the process.
There is fear of inadequacies, lack of resources, not having a large congregation, or not having the right words for the wrong situation. The fear of being urban church planting pastors can be enough to have the toughest person walk away, willing to simply go back into the fray of just being a participating member of the local church.
Despite these and a lot of other fears, there is hope. The hope in faith is the essence of what drives urban pastors who are planting a church in their community.
Faith is the safe place for urban church pastors. Fear is an ever presence, but faith is always there, calming the heart of urban pastors. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane due to the stress of his call, his assignment to save the world. His prayer was for God’s will to be done. It was in this moment that Jesus knew that his demise was at hand. This was a prayer that reflected faith in the will of God.
Urban pastors are constantly on the pendulum of operating within the divided, between fear and faith. The ability to balance between fear and faith is always a presence in the mind of the urban church planting pastor. It is that balance that keeps the urban pastor in the face of God, with the knowledge of knowing that things are truly working for the good of those that remain faithful. It is faith that enables urban pastors to not give up during those lean times of planting the church.
It is faith that lets urban pastors know that it is not about the number of people in a church service but the number of blessings. It is faith that lets the urban pastors know that they are transforming lives just by having coffee with the man or woman who is returning from prison. It is faith that lets the urban pastors smile knowing that what is not recorded in the offering plate, is being celebrated in heaven. It is faith that positions the urban pastors to stand whether there are two people or two hundred people. It is faith that urban pastors have to stand for the underpaid port worker, for the under-resourced community, the underrepresented youth, and the overly sexualized young girl.
It is that same faith that doesn’t keep track of every hurt, knowing that it should be charged to the head and not to the person’s heart.
Fear and faith are the bookends of this thing called ministry, which is where urban pastors learn to live.