Allow me to give you a bit of insight into one of the barren places in the heart of someone who knows better... should know better... but struggles nonetheless.
I'm a church planter. A pastor. I love my community. I love my people. I love other communities... but not like I should, I think. Because if I did, I'm not sure I would feel like I do sometimes.
"It's kingdom, not competition."
How many times have I repeated that to myself? How many more times am I going to have to repeat that to myself before I get it?
I often don't have a problem with this. I'm usually able to keep a level head. In fact, just yesterday, I saw someone I hadn't seen at our gathering in a couple of weeks. As we chatted a bit, she told me she had visited another community the week previous and really liked it. In fact, she thought from now on, she might divide her time and her Sundays between us and them. When I heard that, I immediately told her "No! Don't do that! If evergreen isn't home for you, go be a part of that community. But pick one community and commit. Dig in, know them and be known by them. But don't split yourself..."
Like I said, I often don't have a problem with this.
But not always.
This feeling, this resurgance of the darker part of me was brought on by a comment someone made to me today that made me feel as though perhaps they were going to jump over to another community in town. The hard part is that
a. I have been excited about this person being a part of evergreen and
b. they were introduced to this other community through us sending a group of people there to feed the homeless teens they work with.
I try to hold our people with an open hand, knowing that ultimately they are God's, not "ours" and that some people will journey with us forever, some just for a short time. We're not the community for everyone. I know that.
But... this brings up the competitive feeling in me. The dark, rank part of my nature that sees church as a zero-sum game and people as units to be counted, added, listed... possessed.
Which is complete crap. I have less and less of a problem with the people who come to us from a certain very large, very well-known emergent-esque church here in town (I hear "Yeah... we used to go over there, but it was getting too big" at least once a week). So why worry when some people trickle down to a slightly smaller community we are serving?
Why would this affect me like this?
I don't know.
It just does.
Damn that dark, sticky place deep down in the corner of my soul...
"Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a right spirit within me."