-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of when I first began this journey with God to create Fig Tree Christian. Ten years ago I would have imagined it would look much different than it actually does. By this point, I imagined there would be an actual team I'd be working with. You know, people with the creative desire to figure out what Church will look like in the future. I imagined I'd be planning out videos and Bible studies.
I guess the biggest thing I hoped was for "we" instead of just "me."
That being said, what I hoped would be a celebration ten years in, is not a good day for me today.
Understanding the lack of support.
I did not come back to Georgia at a good time.
The Regional Minister at the time called me to tell me he was retiring. He expressed sorrow that he wasn't going to be there to help me. I immediately knew that raised the difficulty. It was the first struggle of many.
The region was also in financial trouble. Churches were already dying, and some had flat out stopped giving.
The region also had a race problem. The biggest church in the region, Ray of Hope, had flat out stopped sending kids to the regional conference center.
That's why Georgia brought in Rev. Dr. Denise Bell. She was good with the finances, and could work specifically with the race issues Georgia needed to work on.
Her focus wasn't on new Church plants. Conversely, she wanted to focus on revitalizing the Churches that already existed over and beyond new Church plants.
We'd talk. I'd tell her Fig Tree needed assistance. She would offer prayer, but explain there was nothing she could give on a regional level.
If you want me to be mad about that, I'm not.
Others were though. My sister wanted me to seek out the Alabama region, which was only an hour from us. Anything but a region that was going to boldly express exclusion over possibility.
What it means to work from nothing.
One of the big ideas of the past decade came from the late Rev. Dr. Roger Sizemore. He believed in me. He wanted to get me going again. Working with Dr. Bell, they hatched a plan to plant Fig Tree Christian in First Christian Church of Marietta, (Disciples of Christ). Marietta was dying. What they didn't tell me, was the bigger plan was to have the dying church, devore Fig Tree, and I stay as a minister.
I was livid. The death of Fig Tree wasn't going to save Marietta. It was also completely ignoring real people who found real connection through everything Fig Tree had done up to that point.
We left Marietta, and started livecasting in a coffee house. We were one of the very first Churches in the nation to livecast a form of worship back in July of 2016! We were figuring out what online worship looked like when people were boldly telling me that wasn't worship.
I knew I was doing something that needed to be done, but no one could see the potential in it. We got nothing from the region the entire time we livecasted. Could you imagine what we'd be, if the Georgia region had trusted God enough to support Fig Tree in becoming online presence? Once again, I'm not angry.
That's why in 2019 Fig Tree left the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I prayed about it for years, and my prayer was answered with this thought, "Do it now when it holds power."
When 2020 hit, and everyone was home, I realized how much power that move made.
What the region did in return was horrible. They kept us as a church on the website, but didn't include us as an online presence during the pandemic. They had their cake and ate it too. That one I'm mad at. We were used. People who heard about Fig Tree looked for us, and found other congregations livecasting their worships.
So- for the most part, I'm sad.
I feel like, every single day, is a day people are being failed.
We are so caught up in saving dying relics of a bygone age, we are just ignoring the wailing cry of the broken.
I am not online because I think it's fun. It's not.
I'm not online because I want to be famous. That's just stupid, and no one should go into ministry for that.
I'm online because this is where the broken go, and we can't get our heads out of our asses to see we need to be more than copy/pasting our worships.
I'm sad, because no one wants to physically help me reach them.
There I am. I don't peddle beautiful lies; just hard truths. If you hear it from me, it's because I believe it. Know that. Maybe 2032 will be different...