I served for years as the XP on a team of three pastors planting Terra Nova Church in New York. On my journey there, I made a three-year stop as Lead Pastor of a suburban church, a church with nice people and a pretty lawn. About a year into my tenure I began an intensive evaluation of my lifelong role in God’s Kingdom—which led me to two observations.
- I didn’t like preaching.
- I loved the day-to-day management of church life.
I wish I had realized this before taking the church, but in seminary, everybody wants to be the star, and in churches, the Lead Pastor is the star.
“What next,” I wondered. Was it time to clean up my resume? Resign? Over several months of prayer, I sensed God clearly saying a few things:
- Stay put for now.
- Forget the resume, you won’t need it.
- Your life’s mission is to come alongside of highly-gifted communicators who have the potential to make a generational impact, but who desperately need a right-hand man to make it all work.
So I stayed put—served, preached, counseled, etc. Then I got connected with a church planting organization (www.acts29network.org). I started helping their northeast director plan a training event bringing together planters from around the country. Soon, we were discussing his dreams for a new church. This guy seemed great. He was a gifted communicator and visionary; he spoke intelligently about the societal and cultural shifts that would force the church to adapt or die. You could tell that he wasn’t just parroting some dime-a-dozen “emergent church” book. Best of all, he was an organizational mess! I mean this guy couldn’t organize his way out of a paper bag if someone handed him a GPS and an Excel spread sheet!
I began meeting with the future pastors of Terra Nova over lattes and espressos, to strategize and dream about the church in our generation. God began to gather a core of about 75 people around our vision—then we began renting a 200-year-old factory turned concert venue/bar with a killer sound system! Sure, the place smelled like stale beer every Sunday—and we occasionally found the bartender asleep in the basement—but that was okay. We were growing and reaching the artistic crowd we felt called to. Our local arts and culture newspaper did an amazing cover story on us. Terra Nova, with its loud music, candles and eclectic crowd is a long way from my former comfortable suburban church, but I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was made to do!