A Few Things I've Learned
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
I know it’s been a bit since I’ve shared with you. I’ve been on a very long sabbatical, working through some spiritual and emotional things. As this is the week I’ve chosen to come back, I wanna share a few of the truths I’ve learned from my time away.
We need to normalize speaking honestly about our emotions- both good and bad.
I chose to be honest about my struggle with Fig Tree Christian. While not vocal about it, I knew what people wanted. They wanted me to be Osteen level gleeful in everything I do.
Okay, let me back that up just a little. Modern Evangelicism has made you believe you want a leader who always has their stuff together, and always sees the better side of life. If you shine a light into the light, guess what you’ll find? Light!
Only that’s not real. That’s only half of reality, which is why I chose honesty in all things here. I’m not called to be a mega-pastor, I’m called to be a shepherd. It is more important to me that I emulate the reality of being spiritually lost so it can be followed, than to hide away when those times happen.
If it made you uncomfortable, GOOD! Guess what? Working out our emotions is still working out, and working out, when you first start it is uncomfortable.
Fig Tree Christian is not a church.
It might do church kinda things, like have worship, but this ministry always fails when it gets shoehorned into being a church. I get why it happens. It’s difficult to understand how to interact with God when the only way we’ve ever known has been in a church.
I've found God more in the last six months in my creativity outside of Fig Tree because it is outside. God has given me the creative expression to play. How exciting is it that God has asked me to leave the building with the mandate, “Find me, and when you do help others see where I was, and then find me again!”?
Do you understand that all that is lost if Fig Tree is anchored into being a church?
Easter is still disheartening.
My biggest revelation is right below this one, but let me sum it up into one sentence: I was passively pushed into the pulpit in an attempt to understand what I was doing. It’s heartbreaking to be put in that position and then have the people who put me in that position not show support on Easter because they want the bigger production value on the biggest Christian day of the year.
That’s why the Easter livecast was only a couple of minutes long. I was passively pushed into a space, where those who were passively pushing had no intention to stay. That would hurt you too.
I’m called to seek mutuality.
Fig Tree kept being manipulated into being a church because the process wasn’t mutual.
In some cases, this fault was with me. I was very protective of this ministry, and didn’t want to cede control to someone who didn’t have a vision for what it could be. That simply makes sense. As a ministry it was a newborn, and needed constant supervision. There were a couple of times it could have been destroyed had I not stepped in and took it away.
In other cases, it was those who wanted to help.
Once again, I return to Modern Evangelicism. Since the 1950’s, churches were formed by a charismatic male, seeking congregants. Whenever people wanted to support Fig Tree they did it by following the formula: be a congregant. Only, the congregant/minister relationship is not mutual. It’s very much a follow the leader type of situation.
It is such a passive way to support, I didn’t realize how drastically it shifts the direction of a ministry. I just saw I was the only one talking/writing/designing. What I failed to see, was anyone who said they wanted to be supportive, was taking the congregant role and watching/listening. It created a pulpit when Fig Tree was never meant to have one.
It was this inability to see the stubborn nature of “help,” that kept me from finding true mutuality. I realized I needed to seek situations where people were not thinking about church. I recently found a couple, and they are situations where both parties are allowed to have creative agency, and neither side is more important than the other.
So don’t ask me what we’re doing mutually, because the answer will be nothing. That’s forcing me into a traditional pastor role, and I’m a shepherd.
In other words, I'm now ultra-aware when "help" means throwing all the work back at me, to leave me with all the creation. I won't be the Little Red Hen anymore. It's not fair to you. You can't partake of that communion, unless you help make the bread. To passively push me into the building, up at the pulpit, you are losing out where God has asked me to play. The building is stale. The gardens are outside. I want to play outside, and maybe it won't be with you, but it won't be alone.