Confessions of a Church Planter (Pt.1): The Optimistic Failure

This is the first in a series of transparent blogs I’ll be writing about the life cycle of my church plant, the Pursuit. 

The last three weeks have been some of the darkest of my life. I’ve tried my best to smile and be “like Adam” as best as I can, but the truth is, I’ve been a mess inside. Just ask my poor family. They’ve had to deal with a moody, depressed, and often very quiet person.

It’s because I’ve been in mourning.

When your vision dies it can very much be like an actual death. I’ve had several friends who have lost parents, spouses, and even children so I certainly don’t want to trivialize their loss I simply want to show that when a vision dies it is a bit more than what it feels like to have a failed lemonade stand as a kid.

Imagine that you see a need for a product or a service – something that you believe can change the quality of life for a lot of people. At this point though, it’s nothing more than a passing idea. It’s just a thing that you think could be special. Once everyone has this thing then not only will their lives be better but the lives of those in their lives.

Before long, you realize you’re spending a lot of time thinking about this idea. It’s consuming your thoughts. You Google everything you can about your idea to learn what’s out there, how others are taking care of their vision, how others are growing their vision. You read books about the vision. Your start filling notebooks with ideas about the vision. This thing is starting to grow inside of you. You realize it can’t stay there forever, it has to come out.

To give the vision life it’s going to take more than just notes on paper. It’s going to take resources, people, a plan. By this point you are so in love with this growing idea that you’ll do whatever it takes to nurture it and cultivate it so it can grow into the living thing you’ve been dreaming of.

You give everything you have to see this vision come to life. You forget what life was like before the vision. All you know is the vision.

After what feels like years of dreaming, planning, praying and preparing that day finally comes where you get to see your vision come to life! So much potential! So much excitement! The world is going to change starting now!

And for awhile, all is right with the world. Things are happening as you expected.

But then, something happens. A sickness falls on the vision. Maybe the product isn’t selling like you’d hoped. Maybe there are some who love and believe in the vision but not enough to help it grow as you’d always envisioned. There are any number of things that could happen that we never see coming. Things we’d never expect to interfere with our perfect dreams for the vision.

Before long, huge sacrifices have to be made in order to just keep the vision alive. It is less about seeing the vision become what you’d hoped and more about simply keeping it alive.

How did it get to this moment? How did it get so sick in front of me? Why couldn’t I protect it? Save it?

Eventually you realize this thing that you had loved, given so much of your time and resources to, has become too sick to stand on its own and its not going to last much longer.

That’s where I’ve been these last few months and more specifically the last few weeks. I still believe in the vision. I still believe that our community needs the kind of church we were.

But that doesn’t change the facts of what has happened.

We had to close our doors.

I had to watch the vision die.

And it hurts like hell.

One difference between losing a loved one and watching a vision die is that people don’t tend to say “see, I told you so.” when a human passes.

In a weird way, some enjoy piling on when a vision dies.

Our culture is obsessed with winning and those who do the winning. Know what it hates? Those who do the opposite of win.

So when a vision dies life can become lonely.

In some cases that’s ok because some who talk to you simply want to tell you (even with good intentions) where you screwed up and what went wrong.

There are those who never really believed in what we were doing and they take a perverse joy in seeing it fail. What can I say? In the words of one of our generation’s great thinkers:

“haters gonna hate, hate, hate.”

Shaking it off isn’t that easy though.

I feel lonely. Lost. Without my identity. Like a loser. A failure.

Perhaps it’s because I still have a pastor’s heart that in this moment I still hope to help others.

Despite this failure, I have a hope, excitement and optimism.

In my next blog, I hope to share with you all where this hope comes from and why, despite losing the church, I am more excited for what’s next than I’ve ever been.

Sorry that aside from a dated T.Swift reference there wasn’t much “typical” nerd pastor content in this post. I hope to mix some of that in with and in between these “Confessions” posts.

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5 thoughts on “Confessions of a Church Planter (Pt.1): The Optimistic Failure

  1. Cherrylove13 says:

    Chin up dear friend. I firmly believe this will soon feel less like a death, and more like the King removing a burden from your back, and the backs for your sweet family. You did what He asked, and proved yourself faithful. Who knows why He asked such a heavy burden of you and Carrie, but now that it’s gone, perhaps His next path will be lighter and will lead to an even better, more loved vision for you. I am believing and praying this for you because The Lockharts are amazing people that will do extraordinary things for the kingdom! Love you. We are, and will always be here for you. ❤️

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