Planting Mercy Church Week 5: Am I getting soft?

Planting Mercy Church Week 5: Am I getting soft?

By Spence Shelton

This is week 5 in a series of reflections on planting the greatest church you’ve never heard of: Mercy Church.

During my church planting residency I was warned: Church Planting has a tendency to make unemotional guys….well…emotional. Basically the intensity of the workload, your passion for the church, and your desperation for God’s grace, are a recipe for an intense emotional shockwave you’ve never experienced before. My assessments called me a “head and hands” guy. That is, I naturally think & do. I don’t naturally incorporate how I, or others, feel about things when going about my work. Anyone who knows me will probably chuckle a little that I needed assessments to finally see this about myself. At many points my fellow resident, who by God’s grace was a “heart” guy, lovingly encouraged me to get used to emotional things like…..crying. Bleh.

Then I got here. And things got, well…emotional. I started snapping at my kids. I started hugging more people. I started needing down time on Sundays (I’ve NEVER needed regular down time. ever.). And then this past week. At some of YOUR recommendations, I took my 2 boys to see Pixar’s newest film: Inside Out. Hey “friends” of mine: THE PLOT LINE! How bout a little heads up?!?! A girl is emotionally distraught because her parents move her to a new city. THINK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN RELEVANT TO ME! So I started off the movie mad at you. which I’m usually not. Then, I swear about halfway in…I started losing it. Over a dad-gum pixar movie. Phyllis and Leslie Knope (voices behind main characters) had me not just with a tear in the eye but with this half convulsing ugly faced grimace holding back from….crying. bleh.

WHAT THE CRAP! I look at my kids who I am terrified are going to see dad emoting all over the place. Because I’m a emotional neanderthal and don’t understand that’s not always bad. They are laughing at the movie. I’m ugo-faced tearing (not calling it crying. tried to hard to hold it back to give in now) and they are laughing at the funny characters. So I cough, wipe my eyes, fake a laugh, and move on.

Here’s what I’m seeing about, well about me. This Church Planting thing is big. Each week a small part of me wonders if we are going to be here next week. And we don’t even launch until Sept 13! What is my problem? Why do I feel so intense all the time? I’m not on steroids or anything.

Truth be told, my biggest comforts are 1) I was warned about this. so it’s normal. 2) The answer is the gospel. An older pastor once said to me: pastoral ministry is like a roller coaster. Highest Ups & Lowest Downs even in the same hour. How can I say off the roller coaster? The unchanging peace you have in christ…its your only hope for sanity in this role. I knew what he said was true then…I think i’m finally feeling it now.

To all my former staff teammates: yes. It turns out I have a heart. Its fragile. Be nice.