As many of our friends know, my wife and I have decided to enter the crazy world of church leadership in the form of a new church that will hopefully begin sometime in the fall of this year. (Read the previous post for the official announcement). In doing this, the one thing that is the most difficult for us, and especially for my wife, is the scrutiny and the criticisms that could possibly come our way.
One of the comments on the previous post was simply an anonymous link to a 7 minute video of a pastor criticizing people who plant churches in the area of their former church. In this video, he classifies these church planters as "Church Pirates". Although we have not determined where this new church will meet nor have we even done the things criticized in the video, I assume this link was designed to be a criticism of me and therefore I guess, to some, I am a Pirate.
My first response was to defend myself and fight back but I was reminded by my wife that this gets us nowhere and even takes us away from the important fights so instead allow me to share some other perspectives.
I used to criticize people who moved to Orange County to plant churches. I believed that we had enough churches and these people just wanted to live where the weather was nicer. I even worked at a church that saw a significant amount of people leave with one of the pastors to begin a new church in the area and my initial response was to be critical of this new gathering. About 3 years ago I had to recognize this judgmental attitude in myself and I needed to repent and become a supporter of these endeavors. Like the Rabbi Gamaliel says in Acts 5:38-39, "if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." Instead of questioning what very well could be genuine calls from God, I had to become a friend and an ally with those working for the same cause.
The second thing that happened after I realized how selfish I can be sometimes was I realized that there was no way Orange County could ever have too many churches. I did the math in my hometown one day and realized that if every person in our town wanted to go to church on the same day, each church would average over 1000 people. The fact that over 25 million people live in Southern California means that more people live in this region than in any other state in the country and it is more people than the 19 least populated states combined. In other words, the fact that this is the most populated and perhaps the most diverse part of the country means that we need many different churches to work together to bring the Good News of Jesus to our community.
I don't like that I had to "eat my words" and become the very person I used to criticize but it is a reminder that the measure we use to judge will be used against us. I may have learned my lesson this time but I know that to some I will always be a Church Pirate. (For added interest, read what I wrote about pirates two years ago Click Here ).