A friend sent me a small note that said, among other things, "Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts" (2 Timothy 2:22). It meant a lot to me, especially today, and I'll tell you why.
People have left our community. Again. And I think more will leave. It's hard to take. I don't resent them. I'm not angry. People are free to choose what they want. I don't imagine I have everything everybody needs. But when new people come (and I hope new ones will) I always feel a little insecure. People are often drawn to the strong sense of community and the potential for friendship. Our music is passionate. People pray. The teaching, shared by many, is good and solid. Plus we have great parties. But I always wonder how long it's going to take new people to realize that there is nothing else. What you see is what you get. Period!
I remember quite a while ago someone complaining to me about our community and about the way I do leadership. Well, mainly the fact that I don't do leadership. I'm not a strong leader. The people of the community are great. There is authenticity. Worship's great. Teaching's great. But let's get a vision! We need a purpose! Let's organize and DO something! I asked this woman why it wasn't enough that we had worship, fellowship, teaching, prayer, and that people were helping others. She was drawn by all these things. She loved the authenticity, how real people were, how honest and sincere, how radical and rebellious against the machine they were. But she wanted more. She wanted the slick glamour that other churches have with all their programs and outreaches and ministries and appearance of health. I said that I didn't think that you could have both. It's one or the other. If you want genuine and authentic community, I think you have to neglect the pursuit of success. If you want success, you have to neglect authenticity. It's form or substance. Choose one. She chose. She left.
It is happening again and will happen again. I shared this with a friend this morning and he said that he had been praying for me and felt that there was a cross in my future. Lovely! But he also said that he prayed that God would give me companions for the journey. Sometimes I wonder if, like this painting I painted yesterday, it might come down to just me and a few friends at the end of the day. I hope not. I hope there will be a crowd. But I won't bet on it.