I tend to get excited about new stuff, even new realities. Granted, they aren't all great, but there's something exciting about fresh starts. I've faced a few things that have given me lots of grief, but then, as Aerosmith says, "the moment arrives that you know you'll be alright." It's a weird moment when you have to grieve losses, but then have to move on and experience a sense of new freedom. When my mom died when I was a teenager, I felt almost guilty because even though I was still desperately heartbroken, I felt like there was a new beginning waiting for me. At first I was pissed off that the sun dared to rise, but then that rising shined on new paths and possibilities.
Starting a new concept like Connecting Road Church meant leaving behind some things so that something new can emerge. Picasso (a damn good artist, but also a pretty broken fellow, who sometimes imposed his brokenness on others) once said that every act of creation is also an act of destruction. I am excited about the wonderful people who I gather, laugh, and work with every week, but doing church the way we do it means leaving behind some old ways of doing church. There is a kind of grief that some of the old forms just don't work any more, or that, if I'm honest, I struggle to believe--but there is also the excitement of doing a new thing in a new way.
So we decided that we had to get centered on what matters most for a community of people who really think Jesus of Nazareth showed us the best way to live this life: love God, love everybody, and teach other people to do that, too. It is that simple, but we never could have gotten to that realization if we hadn't faced the grief that for some of us church is a horrible word that perhaps includes feeling judged or shamed, perhaps it includes physical or emotional and spiritual abuse, or perhaps "church" is a trigger that includes the feeling of being excluded because of sexuality, financial status, lifestyle choices, questions and doubts, perceived lack of holiness, ethnic background, or political differences. We don't think the Creator of the universe intended us to feel that exclusion and separation, nor do we believe that the Creator made us for taking advantage of others (sometime we can discuss whether or not selfishness is the most basic human sin). In order to embrace the new journey of connection, it means leaving behind some old ways that religion and faith have been selfishly used to dis-connect and divide.
Loving God, loving everybody, and teaching other people to do it is the oldest concept in the world, but over time it's gotten covered up in some well-intentioned, context-useful, and even context-effective practices and ideas. We might have to leave them behind to embrace the new thing that God might be doing, the new paths that Jesus might be challenging us to walk together.