“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” -Albert Einstein
Biblical education, international missions, parachurch ministries and megachurch pastorates—It all seemed to be leading somewhere and then it just...stopped.
When you get a long/hard look behind "the curtain" and see an unhealthy "people eating machine," it shakes you up a bit. No one gets into ministry with the intention of creating a consumeristic monster that runs willing hearts into the ground keeping it fed. You hear the statistics—40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, 80% of pastors believe their ministry negatively affects their families, 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month—the sobering stats just continue. But, you never think this will be you. (Read more on "Burnout & The Big Machine" HERE.)
So why is this often the story?
Every year, I (Joe) would invite a few young guys to join me in a group where I'd invest in their lives. This time, I got an answer I didn't expect.
"No thanks. We don't want what you have."
I didn't know what to say. They explained, "You're a great guy. We respect you. You just seem busy all the time and it doesn't really look like you and your family are enjoying life. We want something different."
My wife Sheena and I decided it was time to make a change. How could we be messengers of Jesus' good news if our life wasn't... well... good? We got honest. We "faced the music." We weren't healthy and we weren't living a life worth imitating.
It was time to begin living a message worth sharing.
We resigned from our pastoral position, sold our belongings, and moved to a "slow" part of the country to pursue health in our marriage, family, and relationships. Now, instead of facilitating televised religious experiences, our weekends were filled with moments around the kitchen table or taking road trip adventures into the Rocky Mountains with a car full of people. The misfits and the displaced found a place to call "home" and, in turn, we found family and healing. People were meeting Jesus in deep and powerful ways and it wasn't fading after the Sunday hype wore off. When we looked at the Scriptures, we found a name for this...THE CHURCH!
Does unlearning the new and relearning the old sound backwards? It isn't.
When we strip away the "progressive" additives and return to our roots, something (the thing) we crave is found. Scripture as a whole communicates the collective biography of God as a family (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) revealing Himself by relating to us. He brings us into His own family and whispers a mystery to us—we're included in a divine plan to restore the world.
The plan's method is counter-cultural.
Instead of haste we find rest. In place of the transactional we find the familial, an abundance of grace in place of striving, and acceptance that deflates performance. Yet, there are no consumers in a household. There are only participants. With your identity comes a natural and welcomed responsibility. We have been invited into a family that lives and works for a purpose higher than its own survival.
Our story is that we've been invited into a bigger story.
L24 Collective is a life-long experiment. Can we find our way forward by finding our way back to our beginning—to being a family on a mission?