First, please accept my apology for having been so overwhelmed that I haven’t blogged in about a month or so…forgive me! The life of a church planter can be hectic. . .
Second, please be forewarned that I will be venting here, and I’m sure that many of you will be able to identify w/ what I say.
When we stepped out in faith to plant RCLA…there were very few people that we expected to reach out to encourage us, that are actually doing so. Don’t get me wrong, God has provided some amazing people in our lives that check in on us, encourage us, ask how we’re doing and they do so because they really want to know…not because it’s kinda’ expected of them. There are many people we thought were cheerleading us on but we’ve yet to see a pom-pom. I say this to give you an idea of where church planters can be emotionally at times… feeling alone, feeling like no one cares, feeling like all the work we do is futile… like no one cares… but then something HUGE happens and God says, “There you go!” Thank you Jesus for always stepping in to remind us you’re ALWAYS with us… you said, “And behold, I am with you always…” This blog post is also not meant to throw any specific person(s) under the bus… but truth be told, we expected, or better said, I expected so much more encouragement and emotional support from people I thought were really friends. I’m a big boy, with my big boy pants on (actually bigger than they should be…stress eating has really hit home #truth) and we know that God has got our back… because what we’re doing is NOT for us… but for Him.
All this to say, it’s great to be able to hang out with other church planters to talk ministry, strategy, share info on victories, potential losses, what and where to be careful with… etc. you get the idea? The flip side is that not everyone in ministry can be that way! Some dudes see you as a threat, get super territorial, and miss dozens of opportunities to reach out and congratulate you on something. That’s horrible. . . It makes me think of Hebrews 13:3 that says, “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” Why is this not lived out more frequently? I mean… we’re supposed to be on the same team… all believers! But some folks are concerned about the kingdom of God only as it pertains to their church. . . so sad! That’s why this blog post is titled, “Thou shalt not hate…” not that someone like really hates you… but you can be “hated” on; “shade thrown” your way… all phrases to say, jealousy, envious, or just not happy with someone elses success.
So does that mean that anyone who doesn’t encourage us is a hater? By no means! One of the things I’ve had to apologize recently for, is that I’ve been so consumed with planting this church that I’ve neglected to connect with anyone outside of our church planting efforts… granted we told a lot of our friends that this would be so, there needed to be a healthy separation. BUT…one thing the seminary or church hasn’t been able to teach me, is how to read people… I learned that on the streets, and man, let me tell you… that Spidey-Sense is on point!!! So when I bump into someone who I used to be really cool with, and they get all jittery and start stuttering… they’re awkward in handshake or hug… they know all the stuff we’re doing, references every church update, and latest happening at our church… but never once clicked “Like” or left some encouraging remark on our social media posts, leads me to believe that they fall into one of the above referenced categories. If I like you, care about you, love you, or consider you my friend… I will like your posts, comment and encourage you, and always let you know I’m there…especially since that may be the only way I can do so… other church planters or established churches are not a threat to us, on the contrary… we’re on the same team…at least we should be, it’s #TeamJesus all day, erry’day. . .
So when you get connect with genuine dudes, that love Jesus, are down to meet up, drink coffee, break bread, and share stories about their church, their church planting experiences, be transparent with how great things are going, or ask for prayer when things aren’t going good…man, that’s so encouraging! There’s no competition, there’s no threat, just fellow brothers that are sincerely wanting to see each other succeed, wanting to pray for each other…that’s so uplifting and completely blots out the haterism I’ve been a recipient of. It’s encouraging to hear dudes be transparent and not fake the funk like everything is hunky dory… (I have no clue where that phrase came from)
Here’s a handful of solid dudes that the Lord has put in my life and that of our church plant. These dudes reach out to me just because… they don’t get paid for it, they don’t feel obligated to do it… they just do… they encourage me, they ask how I’m doing, they ask how my family and ministry are doing… no competition, no rivalry, same Savior, same team… I consider them my family. Please join me in praying for more pastors like this, more pastors who are truly concerned for the kingdom and not just their own churches. I’m grateful for Pastors: D.A. Horton of Reach Fellowship L.A. in Long Beach, Kyle Blake of The Gathering Lutheran Church in Long Beach, Jose Hernandez of Hope Central Watts in Watts, PJ Tibayan and John Lee of Bethany Baptist Church in Bellflower, Kris Brossett of Refuge LA in No. Hollywood, Tommy Forester of Epiphany LA in the Crenshaw area of LA, and Nisan Stewart of Greater Emmanuel Temple in Lynwood.
I’m grateful for so many other people and churches that are already a part of our lives, but today I wanted to take a moment and give God thanks for them, and ask you to pray for more dudes that are kingdom minded. . . I’ll be writing a bit more I hope (and probably a bit less to keep the posts, short, sweet, and to the point). The Lord bless ya’ll, thanks for taking the time to read this and remember… it doesn’t take but a second to reach out and encourage someone, click “like” on one of their posts, comment and encourage them… or reach out with a call or text to say, “Hey man, I’m proud of you!” or “Hey, how can we pray for you?” or sincerely ask “Hey, how are you doing? Really?”