We’re nine months into our church plant at Wynyard, in Sydney’s CBD. I’m developing a pretty good repertoire of answers to the type of questions our particular planting context asks. If I’ve had a decent amount of sleep and I’m on my game, I actually enjoy the back and forth of answering those questions.
But there’s one question that I really dread. In the past week my mum, my son-in-law, an old friend and one of the maths teachers at school have all asked it. My hairdresser even asked me yesterday while I was trapped under the plastic poncho, staring at myself in the mirror:
“How’s the church plant going?”
I don’t like talking to hairdressers at the best of times. I don’t like small-talk. I find it tiring. I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror. It makes me put off going to the hairdresser – it’s not a treat. I’m stressed out by listening to inane gossip and ill-formed social commentary in the salon. So, in the end, I answer that dreaded question by saying the first thing that pops into my head.
“Lots of people are sick ‘cause it’s the middle of winter. But I think it’s going ok.”
On the way home I think about all the other ways I could have answered him. I also think about why I dread that question.
Maybe I dread trying to answer it because, if I’m honest, my emotional response is to feel vaguely scared and worried. I think the answer I gave betrays my fear that our church plant is like a precariously balanced house of cards. Objectively I think it’s going OK, but it’s so raw and new, I don’t feel settled or confident yet that it’s got long-term legs.
Part of the problem is that it’s a huge question. “How’s the church plant going?” How do I measure it? According to what indicators? It’s as hard as answering, “How’s your marriage going?” Umm. Do you mean do I currently like him? Am I irritated by him? Am I being kind to him? Is the sex good? What do you mean?
Maybe the next time someone asks me how the church plant is going, I might try that. I might ask them what they mean. Get them to do some of the hard work of teasing out the question a bit. Open the door to a broader conversation that might even challenge them to think about what success means? At the very least, it’ll buy me some thinking time.
– By Cathy Tucker