On October 28, 2008, I wrote my first blogpost ever: http://oldmenplantingchurches.blogspot.com/2008/10/am-i-too-old-for-this.html . It was short and addressed the notion of an 59 year-old man thinking he could plant a church because it's a young man's game, and for good reasons. The inaugural post simply expressed where I was as I took the first steps of planting. I only knew what I knew which was not much other than what I'd read from guys like Frost, Hirsch, Cole and McManus. I was a church planting greenhorn for sure.
Be that as it was, I also wanted to take an extended foray into writing about what I was experiencing. It would help me sort things out and record what was happening, for me and for others. I had no assumptions about how illuminating my experience would be or whether I'd have much to write about. I just knew I
wanted to make a record of my perceptions and journey for however long I'd be engaged in the imagine/Northampton sojourn. Writing was also my way of saying I was here, and expressed how I interpreted what I lived. I wanted it for my family, friends, other imagineers on the way, and for folks considering planting a church, or just living their own journey with Jesus. I have zero visions of grandeur in this task; I just know I'm supposed to write my thoughts of this leg of my long trek home.
So I have written 250 with this post, and I'm glad I did. I've tried to be honest about the joys, sorrows, frustrations, surprises, challenges, and spiritual realities of being at this endeavor at my age, and in my peculiar skin. I've also tried to inspire others to go deeper and further out into the missional tasks our magnificent Lord has beckoned. Writing about the people I've met, walked with, lost, and shared Main Street Northampton with has been my attempt to shed light on what's like to live in this unique small city. I've also tried to reveal how much passion I've had to see Jesus glorified and his Kingdom displayed. Sprinkled in the mix are glimpses of how deeply broken I am ... and yet loved beyond my comprehending.
Writing Old Men Planting Churches has let me peer into my heart and see the widening of my spiritual sensibilities. I've glimpsed what matters most to me and seen the edges of my abilities. I have few illusions about what it takes to be a missional church and be a leader of one these days. At least for me, it's tougher than I ever imagined and occasionally bewilderingly so. My weaknesses glare at me sometimes, especially when I fail others. On the other hand, my strengths work in the background, and I get to see their evidence when someone feels loved or helped or motivated. Such evidence is a sea breeze for which I'm always grateful. Cool air in the fray lightens my spirit.
Writing this blog has taught me I can write. It's shown me the peculiarities and mannerisms of how I write, and what are my limits. I'm no virtuoso, but God's given me some chops. Writing OMPC has inspired me to write more, and consider tackling a longer piece of work in the next year. We'll see.
Writing this blog has taught me to be more reflective about what I'm experiencing and how to notice life situations, encounters, or experiences rich with spiritual meaning. Noticing is soooo important, and I'm grateful being able to write my blog has opened me beyond what I was able to see before.
Writing this blog has shone me I have deep passion for the Kingdom of God and relationship with Jesus. It's unlocked a strong longing in me to see him known and to see his wondrous Kingdom of true life come. I'm convinced more than ever His Kingdom is the only domain worthy of the heart's deepest allegiance and joy. There is nothing like it in the universe.
Writing OMPC has revealed how much I've grown to notice the sadness and struggle of the human condition, especially with folks on the street, the chronically addicted or mentally broken. I've counseled many people for many years but "the least of these" his brethren are more present to me than ever. I
Writing the blog has taught me how to celebrate what we have been able to do here in Northampton. While it is very modest compared to what others have been able to create and achieve for Christ's glory in this world, celebration is still much in order for the fact we've weathered many storms, setbacks and struggles, but we're still here, we've served, and are ready to serve more.
Writing my blog has taught me to be vulnerable about what I really think and feel. I'm an introvert and private by nature, But through writing about and living in this mission I've come to believe firmly that revealed vulnerability and brokenness can connect more deeply with others than protecting any the illusion of being together. Humility is precious freedom, and a wall-breaker.
Finally, writing the Old Men Planting Churches blog has helped me connect with a whole bunch of lovely people who take a bit of their time to consider what I have to say. I had no idea who'd, or if anyone would read it, but they have. I don't use this word a great deal because it's so overused in the Christian culture, but knowing people read my thoughts is a genuine blessing to me, whether they agree with my thoughts or not. It's just a happy thing to think people find it worthy of reading at all, and I'm not exaggerating!