The Sacred Duty of Glue
-Rev Melissa Fain-
When I knew Fig Tree was going to be a thing, I was pregnant with God's call. In the beginning there was no differentiation between the two. We were one in the same because I was birthing something into being. (Not language I made up. Paul connected new ministry with giving birth. I'm just a female that actually understands the pain involved in pregnancy and labor.) There came a point where that call was born and people had the opportunity to see it apart from me. Yet, like a mother caring for her infant, everything came through me. I was charged with getting that call through it's infancy.
New Church development has changed their language to plants, but something is lost in horticulture. We are growing the Body of Christ. That's an animal. Seeing new church starts as birthing and raising helps these new ministers understand why the early stages are so laborious. Just as you wouldn't put a baby on a high ropes course, you wouldn't put a new church start in big mission projects. They can't even digest things fully unless it's broken down first. That was me. Feeding and caring for something that I have always hoped and hope will be bigger than me.
Well, in July we turned 7. From conception to now, Fig Tree has existed in some form. She's old enough to give control over in some form, like sending your child to school. The person is strong enough to hear multiple voices and take it in. I'm far less worried about the dangers of the world. There is less of a chance she will be devoured by the stronger presences out there. I do need to tell you what she is. Fig Tree is glue.
Most Churches and organizations are not glue
The phrase "All are welcome," is not true. Now, before you brick and mortar churches get up in arms and call me heretic, hear me out.
No church is called to reach everyone. God includes everyone, but individual institutions meet needs differently. There is a prison ministry in Kentucky. You can't tell me the victims of the prisoners would be comfortable in that ministry. That's okay. To say you are something solidifies what you are for the people you are for. Prisoners need God just as much as anyone else. Most churches are called to be solid: to be something specific to a specific group of people. The more solid a church is with who they are, the better they meet the need of the people they are called to reach.
Churches don't like to hear this. They want to be everything to everyone because God calls all. Only, a single church is not God. A church is a piece of the whole. Just like individual body parts are called to specific tasks, so it is true of individual churches.
Why is that true?
Most glue today is synthetic. It's made in a lab. Natural glue is a beast all it's own- literally. Before we figured out how to fake glue, we did it through a process of breaking down collagen in an animal and condensing it. This required boiling connective tissue multiple times, and drying it out in sheets. Then, breaking the sheets into clumps and adding water back, but only just enough to make it usable. To make an animal into glue, everything animal like must be destroyed first.
Almost every church wants to be glue, especially when their numbers start to dwindle. They are asking themselves, "How can we bring in diversity?" when all they are really asking is, "How do we keep from dying?"
You can make a solid mission into a glue, but at the cost of everything. It all has to be ground down and boiled down until all there is, is glue. You can't have a solid mission and be glue. The purpose of glue is to bring missions and purposes together.
Glue doesn't get focus or adoration. You don't look at the finished product and go, "Wow, that glue holding it all together is the real winner. No, it disappears into the finished product. Most churches and organizations are too solid, to be defined as glue. That's right and good for them. They should clarify what makes them solid, not soften what is already working.
Fig Tree exists as glue
I was brainstorming great organizations that are glue-like, and I was failing. That's because, the internet is very uncomfortable with the make-up of glue. People want things that are solid. They want people to pick a side so they know whether they're supposed to hate or love them. The phrase, "If you're church isn't talking about [A], than you shouldn't be going to that church." is a very tweetable statement.
Fig Tree's mission is to the brokenness in the world. I, Melissa Fain, was personally chewed up, broken down, and made into something new. Seven years ago I personally had a choice. I could pour myself into a mold, and solidify myself into a "camp," or I could remain liquid to solidify others. For me, it was an easy choice. Because I was pregnant with the call of Fig Tree, my spiritual DNA as it was at that time, became Fig Tree's DNA.
My biggest fear, as we move into the childhood phase of this mission, are people who want us to solidify, or yell at us for what they think we might be. Right now, solid voices can come on and this is a place where they can be heard. I don't agree with all of them, and I couldn't. It's diverse. We've had writers from multiple denominational, political, and personal experience. I can only hope over the next seven years, we get more diverse, not less. We can do that, because we're glue. When it's all said and done, no one is going to see Fig Tree. They will see the organizations and people surrounding it. If that be the case, praise be to God.