Ghosted

Ghosted…

You know, that term “ghosted” is used quite a bit in relationships, mostly the casual ones, and it describes how one person just disappears from the relationship without so much as a goodbye, a reason, or a motive. Many times it’s commonly known what it was that happened or transpired, but remains unsaid. Sadly things don’t seem to be much different in Christianity, unfortunately this hits home, especially as it pertains to my beloved Reformed tradition.

What am I talking about? Well, if you know our story and have been following me or our church, you might know what I’m referring to. However, if this is the first time you’re hearing about this, let me put you up on game, in other words, allow me to bring you up to speed.

In January of this year, 2022, we made an official announcement that RCLA had left the Reformed Church in America and was endeavoring to transfer into another Reformed denomination/ federation. That didn’t work out and actually got super contentious with 2 specific churches and their leaders, then at the end of March I shared that we would instead seek to build our own table, one where churches like ours, with leaders who looked like us or ministered in contexts like ours, would be welcomed, encouraged, loved on, supported, and held accountable. Then in June I shared more specifics on our new denomination in hopes of getting the word out to others that might find themselves in similar situations or circumstances.

But getting back to being “ghosted,” you know… it’s not a good feeling. It’s not a good feeling in a casual romantic relationship when it involves unbelievers, and it’s an even worse feeling when it happens amongst believers whom you thought were for you, and proclaim the name of the same and only Savior, Jesus Christ, but also, when we share the same historic tradition and theological background. But what can we say or do? We keep it pushin’… why? Because the hood still needs the Gospel, the hood is still plagued by prosperity pushing pimps… the hood is a part of God’s remnant, and we will do our share to be used by God to reach His people. Amen?

For a while, it seemed like we were a hot item, folks couldn’t understand or get their heads wrapped around how there is a Latino led, confessionally Reformed, multicultural church plant, raising up other Latino church planters that will be focusing on the hood. And then from one day to the next… poof! Just like that… ghosted!

Obviously, we weren’t ghosted by everyone… but many who said were for us, are no longer for us. Many who’d promised us the moon and the stars just fell off. Folks had promised us that we needn’t worry about finances, or encouragement and accountability, which was a big deal for us because in leaving our previous denomination we walked away from financial support. So it wasn’t so much the lack of money we were promised, it was more of a huge let down in that some of the people we’d so looked up to, admired and respected so much, ended up showing their true colors, and it was sad. I felt like we were being courted and sought out for how different we could make an organization look, but they weren’t up for challenge to make things work. It was easier to try to discredit us than learn from us.

You see, although we’re covenantal, creedal, and confessionally Reformed, we don’t look like a typical Reformed church. We don’t dress the way most Reformed ministers do, our worship style is different than most Reformed churches, and our preaching is a bit different than most Reformed churches. Please hear this though, the elements of our worship at RCLA are the same as most Reformed churches, but our context is different than most Reformed churches, so the way it plays out looks differently, yet remains the same.

I say all this because God always comes through! He will never “ghost” us… He will never leave us nor forsake us! And Philippians 4:19 promises us that He will provide for all of our needs according to His glory in Christ Jesus! So as we’ve been ghosted by some folks, God’s providence has graciously brought others into our lives, or strengthened us with the type of support we need. Some of it is financial, much of it is fraternal… the love of brotherhood… the encouragement of a friend that truly cares… and believers who are not scared of speaking truth into our lives, despite feathers being potentially ruffled.

Myself along with Rev. Rob Novak and Rev. Brian White of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA.

God has gifted us with new relationships and strengthened existing relationships! These relationships help support our church by keeping me healthy, with men who take my calls when I need advice, men who encourage me, pray for me, and hear me out when my heart is heavy. Men with whom I can have deep theological conversations and wrestle with what that looks like practically in pastoral ministry. Men who are not too proud to learn from us because they think they know it all.

My son Diego and I got to hang out in San Diego with Rev. Adriel Sanchez and Frankie Sandoval Jr. of North Park Presbyterian Church.

I’m thankful that our Lord in His sovereignty always provides for our needs, I’m grateful for men who are doing ministry in the trenches and not just having theological conversations in ivory towers.

Fellow A29 church planters a couple weeks ago hanging out and encouraging each other in ministry.

Next time you think of a pastor, please take a moment to pray for him. Next time you think of a church planter, please take a moment to not just pray for him but also reach out and encourage him. The struggles of church planting are extremely heavy. We struggle with our own competitive spirits, trying hard not to judge our failures by others successes. There are expectations of reaching certain markers within certain time frames. Some of us are bi-vocational and STILL have to fundraise… so for someone to “ghost” me, it’s hard not to take it personal or be hurt by it.

As some people walk out of our lives, many others are walking in… it’s hard though to emotionally detach from some folks because you’ve grown to love them. But the Lord doth giveth and the Lord doth taketh away, and the Lord doth strengthen us when we’re weak. And above all, the Lord will persevere us unto the end, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings, that doesn’t mean we don’t get lonely… that doesn’t mean we got it all together.

An encouragement I give to you is this, “Don’t ghost folks!” Have grown and respectful conversations especially as it pertains to other believers.

Romans 15:7 says, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Can we truly say we’re followers of Jesus and yet not even extend the right hand of fellowship to other believers? It’s hard to think so, right? One thing that God has definitely shown me in the midst of this is my need to focus on those men I’m discipling, to make sure they never feel like they’ve been “ghosted” that they know they’re loved, and that they matter! To those folks that are high maintenance, they need love too.

Thanks for following our story, thanks for caring, and thanks for reading this and not pulling a “ghost”!

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