Every Monday afternoon I go into church planter mode. Last year, this consisted of trying to figure out where I was going to live in Annapolis, and trying to make sure the house in Indiana was sold.Now, every Monday consists of exploring neighborhoods around Baltimore, trying to find the place that God is leading our family to plant a church. Sometimes, this means read demographics, research, and making phone calls to people who live in the city and know what they’re doing (usually hoping that they’ll call or email back). Usually, it means getting out, walking around, seeing, smelling, and experiencing the city – it’s good, bad, and ugly (could it get uglier than that Ravens game yesterday?) Every now and then, I discover something awesome (example: Zeke’s coffee – amazing). Sometimes, I go to a place that I never want to visit again.
The process is exciting. This process has been like a puzzle. It’s exciting to see new places. Each week we tell Reese that we’re going “exploring.” Literally, this is what we get to do. I’ve been blown away. There are places in Baltimore where I’ve heard 3 or 4 different languages spoken. There are places with way too many Steeler flags and Yankee hats. Along the way, I’ve met amazing people all over the city who are contending for the gospel. I’ve seen little churches that are loving their neighborhoods well, despite the fact that no one outside that neighborhood will EVER know who they are. I’ve met amazing individuals who are trying to live out their faith in an urban context, even when their flesh makes them wonder if they’re missing out on something nicer in the ‘burbs.
The process is frightening. In this situation, I simply don’t want to be wrong. Where does God want us? What would he have us do? What does this mean for my girls? What does this mean for my wife? How much will this cost? How do I balance being a steward of my family, and sacrificing all for the gospel? What is too easy? What is too hard? While I know this is God’s Church, flesh can creep in easily.
The process is complex. Today, the contrast of Baltimore really stood out to me. I pass rows of beautiful houses in a quiet neighborhood that looks like the main street of an old farm town….then I pass a block of grit – literally, entire blocks that are vacant and boarded. Economies have failed. Governments have failed. There is fatherlessness, extreme poverty, few fair wage jobs to be hard, poor education, and, While I believe the answer is God work through the local church, this simply not as easy as it sounds. The processes for bringing change will move slowly.
The process is hope-giving. My hope is that there comes a day when we are part of movement of creating churches in neighborhoods all through Baltimore. Even if the doors slammed in my face, and this plant never materialized, it’s been amazing to see people pouring themselves our to see the name of Jesus made famous is Baltimore. There is hope for this city.
The process is still in process. No answers yet..We’ll keep you posted.