Tuesday, June 16, 2009

too much, too little, too late

[with apologies to johnny mathis and deniece williams]

the last two weeks have been a blur. after an uplifting time of equipping at the covenant church plant training in late may, i returned to renton with a renewed sense of direction and hope. we learned a lot that may come in handy in the future. but for now, it will have to wait.

this past weekend, after a month of hard discussions, long special meetings, and behind-the-scenes conversations, our congregation formally decided to rejoin our mother church (lighthouse christian church) for the purposes of recuperating, re-tooling, and God-willing, eventually re-launching. that last part is not guaranteed, and if it does happen, it's not certain that we'd be the ones leading it. for now, the timeline for a re-launch is undetermined.

this is not the setting for recounting in detail all that's happened, but as you can imagine, it's been a difficult season. hurt feelings have finally been expressed. doubts have been shared about my giftedness and even my character. criticism has been given about my leadership. decisions (judgments?) have been made. the dust is still settling, but what we know for now is that the bridge has collapsed, at least in its current form and at least for now.

it'll take a while to untangle what went wrong. but there is some substance to the critiques, and i already know that there are many ways i want to grow from this experience. i am determined to work on personal weaknesses that have hindered my leadership and effectiveness. i am painfully aware of rookie church planter mistakes that i made, and hope that if we ever get the chance to do this again, i would at least be able to avoid some of those. and i have been recently reminded of the spiritual atmosphere in which we find ourselves -- and the need for focused, fervent prayer that breaks the strongholds. no doubt, there are issues that others need to work on as well, but i'll let them write their own blog posts on exactly what. :-)

even with our troubles and shortcomings, God has been gracious. some good things happened during our 16-month first run, including a couple of people who came to Christ, children who have been nurtured and encouraged to seek God in ways that make sense to them, and some very encouraging testimonies of the Spirit's transforming work. we had some wonderful moments; one of my recent favorites was our all-church retreat at camp berachah, where bruce hansen gave messages that people are still talking about and where we bonded in ways that were clearly supernatural.

still, it's hard to escape the feeling that this was a spiritual spanking. our final discussions were marked by more division than unity, more heat than light, and all too little grace. nothing is ever wasted in the economy of God, and so i know that somehow, he will redeem it all. now it's time to rest -- then back to the drawing board in prayer, in God's word, and in deeper partnership with one another. please pray for us. the battle is not done.

for our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
therefore, take up the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to resist in the evil day,
and having done everything,
to stand firm.
ephesians 6:12-13


marguerite said...

thanks for sharing, pastor barry. what a hard time. i vehemently disagree with any challenges to your giftedness and character. not sure what God has in this for you all but know that you (and your family) are much loved.

Sally said...

sorry to hear about the trials and challenges you guys have been facing... relationships can be so hard sometimes. I pray that God will keep uplifting you and bring hope and healing to all who need it - and hope the Wongs can have some good family time through all this!

Anonymous said...

We have grieved with you over the things we have read about the Bridge collaspe. My wife espically has neve rmet you but has been in prayer for you. We will continue to pray for you both. You and Michele are both GIFTED people and I know God will use you to HIS glory.

Love Jim and Mary Jane

Lilster said...

Thank you for sharing with such Candor, Barry. We are praying for you and would like to get together with you and Michelle soon. Lily & Joseph

Anonymous said...

Greeting Michele & Barry
We know that God's people are in a battle and you are on the FRONT lines so just remember that. God is in control. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your HEART. That is what we tell the girls. We LOVE you all very much it is to bad when the family can't get along and show the world we are different ,but we live in a fallen World. In Christ Gary Robin Megan Pam

Mary Medford said...

Hi Barry and Michelle,

Sounds like you've received persecution. Leadership equals rejection at times, even by those that you have loved and nurtured. Know that you are not alone in these type of experiences, my husband Jeff and I went through rejection and persecution at the hands of our church back in 2005-06. God is faithful, and He will promote you and Michelle; and He will bring you to a new level of anointing and strength as you lean and seek Him. I sense that you and Michelle are going into something powerful up ahead.